My Turn, Whitey Harwood: Since when did park enforce litter rules?

Published 9:25 pm Monday, August 17, 2015

Did you hear about the meat cutter who backed into the meat grinder? He got a little behind in his work.

Well, we (Hillbilly Hikers Club) got behind in filing this report, but after watching the Rowan County “bored” meeting for the third time we thought it was about time. The meeting was about the Carolina Thread Trail.

First off, we would like to comment on Craig Pierce’s concern about trash and the burden it could cause taxpayers.

Back in June we went to Lake Norman State Park. There is a very nice five-mile loop trail there that skirts the lake. No signs are posted about littering or about fines for littering anywhere on the entire trail. When we exit the short bus for a hike, each of us puts a plastic bag in a pocket. If we see trash, we pick it up — no rules, no laws, no signs, no burdens and no problems. It is just common sense. On this five-mile hike, we found only one piece of litter and it wasn’t even on the ground. It was stuck between two branches on a tree. It was an aluminum beer can, which we recycled.

Also on this trail, we passed 47 people — men, women and children — and 14 dogs. Remember, it’s a loop trail, so they were all going the other way. So we figured there were at least that many people going the same way we were, for a total of about 100 folks on the same trail at the same time. And just one empty beer can stuck in a tree. That’s amazing, ain’t it, Craig?

The next week we went to Dan Nicholas Park. What a difference a week makes! Upon entering this park you’re met with a bunch of signs that undoubtedly no one reads or pays any attention to. Or maybe they don’t understand them. On the bottom board of one worn out and outdated sign it states, “It is unlawful to litter.” Are you kidding me?

The trail we took at Dan Nicholas to the right of the lake, with the blue markers, is maybe a mile loop. We met no one on that trail, but we did pick up 37 different pieces of trash. Most of it was just the usual litter you expect. Three pieces were unique. Two we will name —a washcloth and a pair of panties. The third piece we won’t mention.

When you finish that walk and head for the concession stand, you will see the second posted sign about litter. It is on the side of the building, with the fishing rules. It states there is a $50 fine for littering. Thirty-seven times $50 – that’s $1,850! Who gets the money? Who writes the tickets? Where is the ticket book? How many tickets have been written there in 40 years? Now, you want to talk about a burden on taxpayers?

The next time you call Mr. Don Bringle (county parks director), ask him how many butt-cans are placed in the park. How much sand does the park use each week to fill the butt-cans? How many workers does he hire to empty the cans and refill with sand? Do the workers ride on a Gator, or do they walk? Does the Gator run on gas, or is it solar powered? How much has it cost the taxpayer so far to have all those different and ridiculous signs about dipping snuff and smoking cig-a-butts posted all over the place?

Now please ask him the same question we asked him several years ago and then again just last week. It is about the first of the way-too-many signs he has now posted. It is the one that states, “No smoking or pets allowed in the playground for the health and safety of the children.” See if you get the same answer we did. Here’s the question: Why is the children’s health and safety more of a concern in the playground than at the train ride or at the carousel?

Here’s his answer: “I don’t know.”

Whitey Harwood lives in Rowan County. Other members of the Hillbilly Hiking Club are Jeff Harwood and Dick Brisbin.

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