Roanoke County sees less litter during first year of campaign

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS) - "You name it, we've seen it," Mike Gusler said as he walks along Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke County in front of his office complex Titan Park.

The "it" he's referring to is trash. Gusler's dealt with plenty of it in the past.

"It's a real big headache. Owning multiple properties, homes and a business there's definitely a lot of other things we could be doing than picking up trash every day," he said.

But once was a daily chore is now more of a minor inconvenience. 

Gusler said now he only picks up trash every three days. It's a significant drop that he in part attributes to Roanoke County's ongoing anti-littering campaign, which is entering its second year.

It's the vision of Roanoke County Supervisor Charlotte Moore, who worked to find a way to cut down on litter, specifically cigarette butts.

That includes billboards, warning letters from police and the possibility of a small fine.

"It's nothing against smokers, it's all about litter and cleaning up the communities, keeping our street and valleys clean and free of litter and our storm drains clean of litter," she said.

In the first year, 100 warnings were sent by Roanoke County Police, along with three citations and nearly 300 tips from the public. That's a big improvement compared to only 25 citations being written by police from 2008 through mid-2013.

But most importantly, its creating a cleaner community.

It's still not perfect for Gusler, but he said the improvements are obvious.

"Even things such as running over trash with our mowers. It costs us money to get those fixed," he said. "But our time has definitely been saved with this campaign."

Moore's next goal is to spread this throughout the Roanoke Valley. She's talking with leaders in Roanoke City, Salem and Vinton.

This is also now an award winning campaign.

Last week the Public Relations Society of America, Blue Ridge Chapter honored Roanoke County's anti-littering campaign with its Summit Award for best green effort in the modest budget category.

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