Lamar County Spring Trash-Off this Saturday
It’s that time of year once again! Step away from your calendar, you didn’t forget a holiday (though, just in case you did, Easter is on Sunday!). Rather, it’s time to get up, get dressed and help make Lamar County a little more beautiful. How, you may ask? This Saturday, April 19th, “Keep Paris Beautiful-Make Lamar County Shine” will once again sponsor its annual Spring Trash-Off. Everyone is invited to participate.
The event (held in the spring and fall) has been a part of Lamar County for over a decade, but many may still not be aware of its existence or even its purpose. To explain, let’s briefly go back a few years, to 1985. Seeking to combat littering on Texas roadways, the Texas Department of Transportation launched a statewide anti-litter campaign known as “Don’t mess with Texas.” This slogan has become well-known in Texas throughout the years, appearing on bumper stickers, highway signs, and even in celebrity-endorsed television ads. Since its inception, the campaign has helped to significantly reduce the amount of litter and debris on Texas roadways.
Each year, as part of this campaign, TxDOT hosts the “Don’t mess with Texas Trash-Off.” Anyone and everyone who is willing and able can participate in this program. The official date for this spring’s event was April 4th, but the dates vary across the state, depending on the individual communities.
Jimmy Don Nicholson is the Community Service Coordinator for the Adult Probation Office. According to him, each year, the office receives a letter signed by all four Lamar County judiciaries. This letter requests that all probationers ordered to perform community supervision restitution be required to report to the Trash-Off. As an incentive, they are offered double community service hours’ credit- “two for one,” Nicholson said.
Court-ordered community service workers will sign in at 7 a.m. and will work either until noon or until all of the assignments are completed in a satisfactory manner. Everyone involved will leave with a feeling of accomplishment.
“It has been my experience that probationers leave feeling that they had made a difference in the appearance of our roadsides and community trails,” Nicholson said. “This is a service that we are glad to provide for the entire county.”
“However, even though the majority of those cleaning up the roads and streets will be probationers, everyone can play their part in this cleanup event. Volunteers are still needed and very much appreciated!
“Everyone is invited to come and participate. Some civic volunteers may want to carry a group of probationers out to a roadside cleanup site and this assistance is welcomed,” Nicholson said. “Roadside cleanup locations are not limited to those being offered by [‘Keep Paris Beautiful-Make Lamar County Shine’].”
Those wishing to participate and volunteer their assistance can’t expect to sleep in. Volunteers can arrive and sign in at 7:30 a.m. at the KPB/MLCS table, in the Home Depot parking lot. Here, they will receive assignment folders and trash bags. They may be picking up trash, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun doing it.
“Persons should pick a trashy roadside and come to [a] gathering point and team up with a group and go have fun cleaning it up!” Nicholson said.
Naturally, safety is a top priority to everyone involved, so safety meetings for both probationers and crew members will occur prior to departure.
“Everyone is urged to bring and wear gloves and to wear long legged pants and closed-toed shoes,” Nicholson said. “Be prepared for inclement weather and follow safety instructions.”
From 8 a.m. until noon, the collected trash can be brought back to the Home Depot parking lot for disposal. Here, soft drinks, hot dogs and water will also be available to the volunteers.
“…As the volunteers come back from cleaning up their assigned roadside they can stop by the refreshment stand,” Nicholson said.
According to Nicholson, there will also be an electronic recycling event for those who wish to discard used or unwanted electronic devices that cannot be collected during the Trash-Off. This event, known as “E-Cycle,” will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.
Although there has been a slight decline in civic leadership since previous years, Nicholson does not anticipate an end in the near future.
“The civil leaders from our county know the importance of trash abatement. We will be there to help out with the event regardless,” he said. “It would really help out if more civic minded citizens would come out to help with the event. I think it’s a matter of getting the word out to the public about the event.”
So, whether you wish to help clean up the streets with the Spring Trash-Off or simply recycle your old computer or monitor, any assistance, no matter the capacity, is invaluable.
“’Keep Paris Beautiful-Make Lamar County Shine’ encourages all citizens of the county to get involved in a beautification project on the 19th and help make a difference where they live,” Nicholson said.
Keeping Paris beautiful: a reward in itself.
According to Nicholson, the timeline for the Trash-Off will be as follows:
7 a.m. – Court-ordered community service worker sign-in
7:30 a.m. – Safety meeting for probationers
7:45 a.m. – Safety meeting for crew leaders
8 a.m. – Assignment folders and trash bags are handed out to volunteers
8 a.m. to noon- Bagged and loose debris are brought back to the Home Depot and put into the collection container
Noon – Court-ordered community service workers can sign out after gaining permission to do so.
For more information about anything listed in this article, contact Jimmy Don Nicholson at 903.517.2394, Edwin Pickle at 903.785.6320 or the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce.
For more information about E-Cycle, contact Robert Talley at Paris Code Enforcement at 903.784.9219.
For more information about “Don’t mess with Texas” and its efforts statewide, visit www.dontmesswithtexas.org/.
By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra