Creative force might defeat trashy residents

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 21, 2004

Downtown Ironton has me worried. It seems to be the focal point of our city and, consequently, the future.

Yet, despite its front-and-center position, it doesn't appear to be treated with the respect it deserves.

This became clear to me last week. First, after returning to my vehicle, parked on Fourth Street, some passing motorist or perhaps it was a pedestrian, deposited a flattened one-gallon milk container beside my parked ride.

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Looking at the trash, apparently tossed out without much thought, I couldn't help but be surprised a bit.

Would someone litter a block away from the Lawrence County Courthouse and two blocks from the county sheriff's office? Such an act seemed about as flagrant as throwing a lit match at the feet of Smokey the Bear.

After shaking my head for a minute, I grabbed the jug, tossed it in the back seat and promptly threw it away back at the office.

Then, later in the week, while making a purchase at a downtown hardware store, I saw clutter and trash filling the curb. Included among the pile were leaves, fast-food drink cups, cigarette butts and various paper wrappers.

"Who does this?" I thought.

And, more important, how can we stop them?

Ironton could, for example, get serious about the problem. If the city opted for the severe end of the spectrum, the city could take the lead from Singapore, arguably one of the cleanest cities in the world. Why? Because the people there have opted to deal with litterbugs with a serious hand.

The empty milk jug perpetrators, under Singapore law, could have faced a hefty fine (approximately $1,000 in U.S. currency) and community service time to help clean up public areas.

Each cigarette butt flicker would, under the severe laws, face more than $500 in fines.

While Singapore's iron-fisted application may seem a bit harsh, residents and visitors have no doubts about how serious the country takes its environment.

Imagine, what would even a little bit of prioritizing do to help the cause in Ironton?

What would happen if we eliminated the parking meters downtown, for example, and used the parking meter resources to police for litter and enforce city codes more?

Could we creatively use the resources we have to change our future?

Are we even considering such? Or, are we more worried about keeping everyone happy?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to