County looks to squash litterbugs

Published 9:07 am Friday, April 29, 2011

COURTLAND—Trail cameras typically used for photographing wild game are going up in Southampton County in hopes of catching those dumping garbage illegally.

Beginning next week, up to four cameras will be hidden in areas where illegal dumping is common. Movement triggers a sensor in the camera, which snaps a picture. Photos will be turned over to Sheriff’s Deputy John Griggs, who investigates littering and illegal dumping.

Officials hope pictures will lead them to suspects and serve as evidence in court.

“They say a picture is (worth a thousand words),” said John Jenkins, litter control coordinator for the county Department of Community Development. “This is a large county, but it’s a small place. Everyone knows everybody.”

Officials also will search illegally dumped bags of garbage for anything with an address that would lead them to a suspect.

The county’s Board of Supervisors recently approved an ordinance that calls for litterbugs to spend up to 12 months in jail and pay fines ranging from $250 to $2,500. They also can be given community service.

Some of the top problem areas in the county for littering are along General Thomas Highway outside Franklin and Cypress Bridge Road off the Route 58 bypass in Courtland, Jenkins said. Rose Valley Road off General Thomas Highway near Franklin is another trouble area.

Once a week, Jenkins works with inmates from the Southampton County Jail Farm in Capron to pick up litter along roadways. It’s normally an eight-hour day.

“We just recently cleaned that up (Rose Valley Road) and got 30 bags of trash, a sofa and eight tires,” Jenkins said.

The cameras will be placed in areas after the sheriff’s department receives a complaint and in places where illegal dumping commonly occurs. Jenkins would not name the places.

“We will use every avenue we have to clean up Southampton County,” he said.