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Commissioners initiating community clean-up project

Photo by Curt Yeomans
An empty egg carton sits abandoned in an unfinished neighborhood in Jonesboro.

Photo by Curt Yeomans An empty egg carton sits abandoned in an unfinished neighborhood in Jonesboro.

Clayton County commissioners are asking residents to help them take out the trash, and clean up their communities, through a new “Pick Up Paper,” or “PUP,” Campaign, which kicked off this week.

The campaign was the brainchild of County Manager Wade Starr, who wanted to improve the county’s physical image, according to his assistant, Tamara W. Patridge.

“When Mr. Starr became county manager, one of his concerns was the way the county looked, in terms of litter on the road,” Patridge said. “He wanted to make Clayton County a clean place to live, work, play, visit and shop in.”

County officials, although officially kicking off the initiative on Tuesday, are planning to make a major push to clean up the county with a “PUP” Day, on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m., to noon. Teams of volunteers, who sign up to participate, will be given a pair of gloves, and a trash bag, and asked to go into their communities, to pick up trash they find lying on the side of the road, on that day, Patridge said.

She said Southern Regional Medical Center, in Riverdale, is donating 2,000 trash bags, and 2,000 pairs of gloves for the clean-up day. She added that Home Depot has donated tool kits to be given away as prizes for the teams that fill the most bags of trash. County leaders are asking other businesses to donate additional items, such as food gift certificates, to be given away as prizes.

“We’ve got four [commission] districts in the county, and so our goal is to get 25 teams of 10 volunteers, in each district, to help pick up trash on that day,” Patridge said. “That totals up to about 1,000 volunteers, which sounds like a lot, but we’re a county of approximately 260,000 residents, so I figured 1,000 volunteers is a number we can work with.”

Patridge said county leaders wanted to kick the campaign off now, because the holidays are around the corner, and visitors are expected to pass through the area, to visit family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But, Clayton County is home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, which means large numbers of visitors are passing through the county at any given time of the year. Patridge said the county is not planning on this being a holidays-only initiative. The idea, she said, is to encourage residents to keep the county litter-free throughout the year.

Patridge said more “PUP” Days will be held in the future, likely on a quarterly basis. She added that county officials are hoping to form a partnership with residents, so people will regularly alert leaders to trash problems in their neighborhoods.

Clayton County Commission Vice Chairman Wole Ralph said the campaign will compliment other initiatives. Those, he said, include the use of inmate labor to pick up trash, and perform “force cleans” of vacant properties that are in disrepair, and mowing the grass at rights-of-way on major roads.

“While we can’t stop people from dropping litter on the ground, as a community, we can pick it up,” Ralph said. “This is one more effort the county can do to clean up our neighborhoods, by having members of the community help us pick up trash, and demonstrate how much we value a clean Clayton County.”

People and groups interested in participating can sign up online, at www.claytoncountyga.gov/claytoncountypup/, or by calling (770) 477-3208. They can also send an e-mail to pickuppaper@claytoncountyga.gov, or go to http://www.facebook.com/claytoncountypup/, for more information.

The county announced, in a news release, that it will post pick-up locations for trash bags and gloves for the first “PUP” Day, and drop-off locations for any trash collected on that day, on the campaign’s Facebook page.