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A fine way to clean up

South Boston News
Del. James Edmunds (at left, next to sign) was successful in the recent session of the General Assembly in doubling Virginia’s minimum penalty for littering from $250 to $500. Edmunds was joined by local leaders for a recognition event Tuesday at Edmunds Park where he announced plans to hold a design contest for new signs to herald the law raising litter fines, which goes in effect June 1.
SoVaNow.com / April 01, 2021


On the heels of his anti-littering bill in the General Assembly becoming state law, Del. James Edmunds was joined Tuesday by local government, farm and civic leaders to raise awareness of trash-strewn roadways and land in Halifax County — and the potential consequences of littering if you’re caught.

Edmunds’ bill, signed into law this month by Gov. Ralph Northam, increases Virginia’s minimum fine for littering from $250 to $500, first offense. The maximum penalty for repeat offenders is $2,500 plus a requirement to spend 10 hours of community service picking up roadside litter.

“My goal is not to penalize people $500 every time [they litter], my goal is to stop littering. I’m hoping this bill will do that,” said Edmunds. But fines and stepped-up citations aren’t enough on their own to solve the problem, he acknowledged — that can only come with heightened public awareness.

Tuesday’s bill signing celebration, held at Edmunds Park, brought together citizens around the hope that “people will become more aware and less prone to toss their trash by the roadside and into others’ yards,” said Edmunds.

His legislation, House Bill 1801, attracted the support of Halifax County Farm Bureau and Virginia Farm Bureau, which have discussed paying for roadside signs to warn motorists of steeper fines for littering. Trash can be particularly problematic for farmers when animals eat it or it gets picked up into machines along with crops.

“Not only is it harmful to livestock and farm equipment, litter makes the county look bad to potential businesses and potential residents. Also, it takes a lot of money away from VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] budget that could go to help fixing roads and maintaining right of ways,” said Halifax Farm Bureau Board President Garland Comer.

Edmunds is asking for help to develop anti-littering signage for the county, and he looking into a phone app that would allow the public to quickly report offenders when they see someone littering. Edmunds said it is difficult for police to prove someone is guilty of littering in court. Virginia Wildlife Conservation officers produce the most tickets for littering, he explained.

“These officers are in or along the lake, it’s easy for them to see someone finish a beverage and wait to see if they drop it in the river or toss the empty container in the woods.

“Roadside litter is the worst it’s ever been and I’m in hopes with signage and community support, we can encourage people from throwing trash out while motivating residents to pick up what’s on the road,” said Edmunds.

About 75 percent of all roadside litter is intentionally thrown on the ground, while the remaining 25 percent blows out of vehicles. Littering is an eyesore and a reflection of the lack of pride in a community. In developing anti-littering signs, Edmunds suggested that groups and individuals develop entries that are specific to Halifax County. Other points: Littering harms the environment. Littering affects the quality of life, safety, economic development, and recruitment of business and families to the area.

Edmunds is setting up a contest to choose an anti-littering message to place on signs around Halifax County. Sign entries may include artwork, but it is not necessary. One design will be chosen to display around the county in hopes the signs will help to deter littering. Edmunds’ office is offering $200 for the winning entry. The winner will be picked by a committee on Earth Day, April 22. There is no age limit to enter.

The deadline for entries is Friday, April 16. To submit an entry, send an email to Edmunds at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by mail to Delegate James Edmunds, P.O. Box 1115, Halifax VA 24558.



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