Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2007

In case you haven’t heard, the recent Renew Our Rivers and Earth Day programs were smashing successes. During the program 78,900 pounds of trash were removed from the Demopolis River system, 1,999 volunteer hours were logged and 368 people volunteered their time for this widespread cleanup effort. The numbers are impressive and inspiring.

Unfortunately, they are not inspiring to everyone. Most afternoons when the weather cooperates and there are no meetings to attend I like to walk down to the North city landing to see my good friends the ducks. They are usually happy to see me and vice versa.

Monday something was different. On this afternoon I met a handful of the ducks around the Civic Center instead of their usual location by the park benches near the boat ramp. I didn’t really think much of it and continued my leisurely stroll.

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The closer I got to the landing the more I wished I had turned the other way and followed them. As I got near the pavilion I had to weave through a pile of dirty diapers, condom wrappers and other rubbish.

As much as I hate to relive the specifics of the awful litter I encountered it is important to stress just how much some people do not care. One short month ago people swept through the area on a mission and saw tremendous success. They felt a lot of pride over their accomplishments and they should have. The work of 368 people made Demopolis and the North City landing a pleasant, beautiful place to be.

On the other hand, the work of a few careless, negligent people who have no interest in improving the city has already put a dent in their hard work. Ironically, there were several candy bar wrappers and empty bottles strewn all around a sign asking visitors to take pride in their community and refrain from littering. The sign was only yards away from a trash- can.

Here is a tip litter bugs…dropping a wrapper or bottle onto the fertile Demopolis river soil is not going to produce a candy or soda tree. No matter how much it rains, no matter what the farmers almanac says, it is never going to happen. In saying this, it would be a nice gesture for you to either throw these items away or plant them in your own yard.

The problems didn’t end there. I decided to walk around and check the damage further. I walked through the grass where the ducks like to relax and before I knew it I had cut my big toe on a broken beer bottle. This was partly my own fault for wearing flip-flops on my walk, but I didn’t really see it that way at the time and hurled a few choice words at the mystery Miller man.

Of course, the damage was not life threatening and I will be fine, but I am not sure I can say the same about one of the city’s most relaxing, peaceful places. The litter will continue to pile up as long as there are people who just don’t care. It is a shame that it takes a widespread effort to keep up with those who refuse to play by the rules.

The best part of Renew Our Rivers was because of their hard work the numbers for future cleanups would be lower. Unfortunately, if people continue to pollute the river and drop their waste wherever they please they will likely be right back where they started in April.

If you don’t have pride in yourself that is your business. If you are going out of your way to put a dent in the pride of an entire city you have problems. It should not be difficult to simply drop your garbage into a wastebasket rather than the grounds of a park or the waters we all enjoy.

The litter at the landing has already started to turn people away from the park. If you don’t believe me just ask the ducks.