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EDITORIAL: Spring forward and pick up the pace on anti-littering
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EDITORIAL: Spring forward and pick up the pace on anti-littering

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The shortest day of the year is upon us. You thought that was the winter solstice, which most recently fell on Dec. 21?

Wrong. This is the one day per year that includes only 23 hours. Daylight saving time has arrived. Did you forget to spring forward? If so, you might arrive at church just as others are departing.

Many people like daylight saving time, but most people don’t enjoy this particular day. We must function with one less hour of sleep, because we’re not smart enough to go to bed one hour earlier.

As he greeted people coming out of his church a week ago, one local pastor wondered aloud why we must spring forward one hour. “Why can’t we just fall back 23 hours?” he asked. Amen.

When the sun starts setting one hour later, it starts feeling more like spring, even though the first official day of the new season still is 11 days away. It also feels more like spring when the sun shines and the temperature rises at least to 70 degrees. Amen?

Are you as sick of winter as we are? The weather was miserable last week, although at least none of the precipitation was frozen.

Another thing we’re sick of is litter. Now that the weather is becoming more conducive to spending time outdoors, maybe we can do more than complain about it. Now is the time for some spring cleaning.

Litter is the ultimate eyesore. Litterbugs are a big problem. The blight they bring to roadsides, empty lots and neighborhoods is awful.

There are more dangerous criminals for city and county law enforcement officers to pursue, of course, but littering is a problem that needs more attention.

Nearly a year ago, it sounded as if talk was going to turn into action. Florence County Councilman Kent Caudle talked about cracking down on people who litter. Florence County Sheriff Kenny Boone talked about committing his deputies to zero tolerance.

But look around the city, county and region. Does anyone see results?

Two years ago, the staff for Florence County Environmental Services wrote only 97 citations for littering that resulted in approximately $18,000 in fines. That’s less than two citations per week. The average fine was only $185.

More litterbugs need to be caught in the act, and penalties need to be more severe. In addition to steeper fines, offenders should have to spend time picking up trash (more than the minimum of five hours imposed by the city of Florence). Make it hurt, so the next time litterbugs roll down a window in their vehicle, it’s just to catch a little fresh air.

What’s wrong with people who fling trash all over the place except for the bins where it is supposed to go? Laziness is inexcusable. Do these people have no community pride or respect for others?

Some littering is a result of carelessness. Trash that flies out of the back of a pickup truck shouldn’t be there in the first place unless it is secured. People who participate in curbside recycling have the best intentions, but sometimes paper, cardboard and/or plastic bottles are blown out of bins.

Keep Florence Beautiful does its part to tackle littering, but this fine organization needs more volunteers. Its next event is the Great American Cleanup, which will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday at Timrod Park in Florence. Participating in group cleanups is fulfilling, but it’s disheartening to come back to a site a week later and see litter all over the place, all over again.

This cleanup would be a good start for people who understand the impact litter can have on such things as economic development, but don’t stop there. Form a group to clean up your neighborhood or an empty lot that needs a little care. Or join an Adopt-A-Highway or Adopt-A-Street program. Call Palmetto Pride’s “litter hotline” (877-7-LITTER) to report an incident.

Let’s spring forward, pick up the anti-littering pace and make this a better place.

Unsigned editorials represent the views of this newspaper. Editorial board members are: Stephen Wade (regional publisher), Don Kausler Jr. (regional editor), Kimberly Ginfrida (online editor), Matt Tate (news editor) and David Johnson (regional circulation director).

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