Local News

Tuesday, Jul 23 2013 09:06 AM

'First Look': Litter, and get yourself a ticket

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    City solid waste superintendent Sal Moretti talks about litter removal initiatives on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    James Dorton says he has been picking up trash in Bakersfield for the past four years including Friday after the Kick Off Freeway Litter Program event put on by Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall and several other organizations. Dorton is part of the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter clean-up crew, but he is not homeless.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Tom and Gail Burch find some interesting things on the roadways while picking up trash after the Kick Off the Freeway Litter Program on Stockdale Highway in this May 2013 file photo.

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Toss litter and get caught -- and you can expect a ticket.

The Kern Council of Governments has allocated funding to partner with the Kern County Sheriff's Department to have deputies dedicate some time to catching those who litter in the act, city solid waste superintendent Sal Moretti said Tuesday.

Moretti talked about litter reduction efforts on "First Look with Scott Cox."

Simulcast host Scott Cox said of litter: "There's no excuse for it to exist in the known universe."

Moretti said he was glad to see Cox called litter a pet peeve in a feature in Bakersfield Life.

"That's my pet peeve too. It's more than a pet peeve. It's an obsession," Moretti said.

But there's hope -- both in the tickets that can be handed out to people caught in the act, and in the new crews of people picking up trash along the highways.

With a ticket, Moretti said, those who trash Kern will "start thinking about it a little more."

Moretti also said Caltrans is supporting the crews from the Bakersfield Homeless Center who are picking up litter on the freeways. Twenty-six Homeless Center clients are working part-time, minimum wage jobs picking up trash.

"They work hard. They have a great story to tell. This is a stepping stone for them," Moretti said. The workers build their resumes and their ability to secure housing, and the public benefits from less trash.

Two crews are picking up litter daily, and a third one is about to start. There's also a sheriff's work crew.

The private sector can help too, both by cleaning up areas or sponsoring a mile for clean-up for $6,700 a year.

Despite all the efforts, there's another piece -- prevention through education.

"There is still a lot more work to be done," Moretti said. If litter disappears, people could move on to pulling weeds and improving landscaping.

Scott expressed optimism about spreading the word.

"You are putting shame on people who may not have thought about it before," Moretti told Cox, adding, "Some in the community need to learn that pride."

To get involved, call 326-3539 or 326-3136.


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