The local Primrose Garden Club has continued its efforts to collect more information regarding the litter problem.

The local Primrose Garden Club has continued its efforts to collect more information regarding the litter problem.
Mark Camp, the state director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful (KAB) Commission, told Arnold, “Litter is illegal in the state of Arkansas with up to a $1000.00 fine for a first offense. Simply throwing a cigarette butt out of a car or on the ground is litter. We at Keep Arkansas Beautiful will continue to work on educating Arkansans about the social, economic and quality of life impact that litter has.”
Camp recently commented that the litter cost to Arkansas is approximately $5 million. Each year KAB conducts two major cleanup campaigns: ‘The Great American Cleanup” in the spring which will last through May, and the fall event “The Great Arkansas Cleanup”.
The latter includes the “Keep Degray Lake Beautiful” program, which Iron Mountain Marina manager Vickie Egleston has helped coordinate for many years with numerous volunteers. According to Egleston, 15 tons of litter were collected last fall at DeGray’s event.
Camp encourages citizens to report littering as it occurs by calling 1-866-811-1222. A license number has to be reported; the offender will be sent a warning letter and notified that the next offense can result in a fine. The hotline is a collaborative effort of Camp’s office and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (ASHTD).
ASHTD’s Adopt-a-Highway program currently has 11 groups from Clark County registered, which account for litter pickups on 12 miles of the county’s roadways. When groups or individuals sign their initial contracts for one, three or five years, they agree to pick up litter four times per year in their designated place.
Supplies are provided and road signs are placed giving credit to the groups. Holly Butler, state project director, notifies all enrolled groups when KAB is doing their spring and fall clean-ups and encourages pick-ups on those dates. Butler stressed that when registered groups have leadership changes, they must communicate the process to their new leaders; otherwise, the successful program can have undesirable results.
A recurrent question has surfaced in small-group conversations among the club members: “How do business and tourism driven destinations in northwest Arkansas control their own litter problems? Are we that different?”
A thoroughly researched answer would be beyond the scope and time restraints of the garden club. However, Mayor Bob McCaslin of Bentonville (one of the fastest growing and often declared cleanest cities in the state), was contacted by phone for the purpose of this article.
He admitted he’s a little obsessed with cleanliness, and that during his tenure, there has been a pointed effort directed toward two things regarding current code enforcement: 1) eliminating dilapidated, unsafe buildings, and 2) overall cleanliness of the city. Their parks maintenance teams make sure there are adequate trash receptacles and, more importantly, a discipline for keeping those emptied.
According to McCaslin, “We consider downtown a ‘park area’. You can have 99/100 things right when someone visits your area, but what they’ll notice is the one thing not right, whether it’s trash or unclean bathrooms. It’s not our goal to write citations, but to make people aware of where they’re falling short. The answer is through community pride, education and enforcement.
The end result is two-fold: a better looking city and an increase in property values.” He added that the most often heard comment from Bentonville visitors is how clean the city is. The mayor concluded, “Keeping it clean is one of the least expensive returns on our investment. But it takes a concerted, community effort.”
Primrose member Claudia Speights has contacted some local elementary schools about educational programs available and reports they are receptive to participating with garden club members before the end of the current school year.
Other club members who are also retired educators offered these comments:
“I feel the litter problem is more prevalent in the rural areas of Arkadelphia (Clark County. We continue to pick up litter on a regular basis around our community (Joan) and within the next day or two, the litter is back! The same basic items (cigarette containers and cigarette butts, deer corn and dog food bags are thrown out, especially around deer season, beer bottles/cans and cardboard containers, plastic sacks, Styrofoam cups and plastic cups and plastic paper products from fast food and someone continues to throw out dirty diapers)! We take pride in our community and want others to do likewise.” (Dr. Pamela Davis)
“Arkadelphia and Arkansas has a roadside litter problem of which we are all aware. Various groups are engaged in picking up roadside litter and are disappointed to see more trash thrown out of vehicles immediately after the litter has been picked up.
It is plain to see that a generation of people have not been trained to keep their trash and dispose of it properly. Arkadelphia needs a workable year long plan that includes the city officials, the public schools and the two colleges to get behind a strong push of “Do Not Litter” that will keep the focus on “Community Beautification”.
The training should start with elementary age students. A very important part of the plan is retraining high school and college age students as a target group. These students are the ones most frequently observed pitching out food containers. A strong workable plan would soon get the whole community involved. To make this work, everyone needs to be conscious of the effort to control the ugliness of what could become a beautiful landscape.” (Farrell Ford)
The garden club urges other groups to get involved in bringing attention to the issue. Loe offered this statement in urging the all citizens to rally behind the efforts:
“Since the announcement of Sun Bio, we have received a significant increase in business inquiries and site visits from all sectors of business and industry. The public may not be aware that these interested parties research Arkadelphia/Clark County prior to visiting our area. To have a site visit means the business has done their research and we are still in the running. The Arkadelphia Alliance website is an excellent resource of data companies look for, but also shows the attributes Clark County has to offer. It is troubling that when site visits occur, we are faced with trash on the roadsides, parking lots, around empty buildings, etc. We live in a naturally beautiful location; as we compete globally for business and industry, this does not show our best. Last year I had the pleasure showcasing parts of Arkadelphia/Clark County to a tour bus filled with tourism staff. This tour was to give them an opportunity to direct tourists to uniqueness of our area. I was saddened when we reached DeSoto Bluff Trail and the entrance had cans and food trash. I hurried to pick up the trash, but the bus full of guests had all seen the trash. I know that people in Clark County are proud to live and work here. I just ask that we all pay extra attention to how we dispose of trash and not look to our city and county employees, prisoners and volunteers to take care of the issue. We all win as individuals and businesses visit. Whether they relocate here or not we want them to tell others how special and beautiful our home is.”