Many local residents have expressed the opinion that the amount of trash along county roadways has increased during the last few years. Snow melts in early spring always reveal a large amount of litter accumulated over winter. But the volume of refuse revealed this season, in places like Route 39 along Knapps Creek, is truly shocking.
Last weekend, a group of nine volunteers dedicated their Saturday to clean up a seven-mile stretch of Edray Road. The group included Bob and Tina Runyon, Jennifer and George Snyder, Tom and Cyndy Epling, Judy and Dwight Perry, Earl Tollman and Lacy, the Runyon’s Collie.
Bob Runyon, of Stony Bottom, saw an article in The Pocahontas Times about a Greenbrier River Watershed Association clean-up project and decided to organize his own team to clean up the road.
“We’ve been doing it, but not on this large a scale, for the past two years,” he said. “This is the first time this group got together.”
Runyon said good organization helped the team get the job done.
“We went from Clover Lick to Route 66, a seven-mile stretch,” he said. “We just divided it up. We took two-people teams and started on either end and it worked pretty well. Each team had a little over a mile apiece.”
Nine motivated people can pick up a huge volume of trash in just one morning.
“I would say we have about 80 bags,” said Runyon. “Televisions, several tires – the political signs are the most troubling – they need to pick those things up after the elections. Most of what we found was beer cans. Beer cans and Mountain Dew – the typical drink here is Bud Light.”
Runyon is more generous than most people who hate litter.
“It’s disheartening, of course, but I would never disparage the neighbors or anyone that does it,” he said. “We got together and had a little picnic last night and everyone said, ‘tell the newspaper guy just to tell people to throw it closer to the ditch, not over the hill. You’re not going to stop them, so just make it easier on us.’”
An iconic 1971 television commercial featured a Native American crying as he overlooked a litter strewn landscape. Runyon thinks better education could discourage people from littering.
“I can’t wrap my mind around why they do it, but education’s the key to keep them from it,” he said.
Like other area residents, Runyon sees more litter than in years past.
“We’ve lived here, this will be 13 years, and yes, it has gotten worse,” he said.
Lacy stepped on a copperhead during the cleanup, but fortunately the snake was lethargic and did not bite the dog. The Runyons previously lost a Collie to a rattlesnake bite.
The four clean-up teams finished their assigned sections of road by noon. Runyon described how team members felt.
“Tired,” he said. “Everyone was satisfied that we had done a good job and the effort was worth it.”