A trashy trend has caught Longview leaders’ eyes.
City, school and quasi-government representatives are launching “Love Longview,” a campaign meant to raise awareness and take action against litter.
Led by District 5 City Councilman David Wright and Keep Longview Beautiful Executive Director Kim Casey Droege, the Love Longview campaign is in response to the city’s most recent survey of roadsides and public places that showed the highest amount of litter around Longview in at least five years.
Their overall goal is to develop a community mindset of reducing litter and illegal dumping.
“That’s why Longview is so littered,” Droege said, “because we do have that mindset to walk past trash and not pick it up.”
To fight back, the city has teamed with the East Texas Council of Governments to secure grant money to begin a litter abatement program, including hiring an abatement officer.
The campaign also has focused on a citywide cleanup tentatively scheduled for April 23-26.
Police Chief Mike Bishop and Pine Tree ISD Volunteer Coordinator Donna Pruitt also are involved in the campaign.
Where’s the love?
A previous cleanup event called Longview Green and Clean has been renamed to Love Longview, as its focus turns more toward educating residents on the ways and benefits of clearing litter from the city.
A team of volunteer surveyors determined earlier this year that Longview had a litter index of 1.92, meaning that the city had more litter on its public spaces than the previous four years, when scores ranged from 1.75 in 2015 down to last year’s score of 1.33.
“In 2019, we experienced a considerable increase in our litter index, and a noticeable increase in illegal dumping,” Public Works Assistant Director Dwayne Archer said on Oct. 10 when he made the grant request to the City Council.
On Oct. 10, the City Council agreed to a regional solid waste grant through ETCOG to hire a litter abatement officer in hopes of making a more significant impact to litter reduction in Longview.
Yearly salary and benefits for the officer will cost $58,765, according to the city.
The grant offsets that cost by $30,000 this year, $20,000 next year and $10,000 in the third year. The remaining balance will come from the city’s Sanitation Fund, Archer said.
He expects to have someone hired before April.
Meanwhile, administrators are determining parameters for the job, Droege said.
The person hired for the job must not be a current city employee, ETCOG Community Services Manager Julie Burnfield said. Also, the city is required to continue the program into a fourth year.
Once hired, the officer will be part of the Code Compliance Division of the city, Development Services Assistant Director Ingrid Self said.
During a monthly meeting Tuesday in Longview, committee members discussed the various ways that residents can report littering.
The city already uses its CitySend app, which allows smartphone users to notify city employees when they see litter, illegal dumping, potholes or other municipal issues.
ETCOG has a free phone app to report illegal dumping, Burnfield said. Information collected from the app is kept confidential and is used for investigation, prosecution and cleanup of illegally dumped items.
“Ours automatically does location and date” of the alleged offense, she said. “Most people are attaching pictures.”
Droege said the city can lean on larger litter control campaigns such as Don’t Mess With Texas from the state transportation division or Keep Texas Beautiful’s Report a Litterer campaign.
She also mentioned litterati.org , a crowd-sourcing site that uses geo-data to track and measure litter worldwide for more effective cleanup and abatement.
Wright noted one thing to remember — if a police officer sees someone litter, it’s a $250 fine.