March 1 marks the city’s launch of an intensified, multi-faceted litter control campaign through a simple but powerful idea: asking each resident to help “Knock Out Litter.”
With city beautification as one of the Hot Springs Board of Directors’ current top priorities, Atkinson’s goal is to engage many residents as possible in keeping the community green and clean. “There’s power in numbers,” Atkinson said. “We begin by raising awareness of why litter control’s so important. It affects many aspects of our community: visual beauty, public health, our land and water, taxpayer dollars spent in cleanups, even tourism. The more people are aware of litter’s vast impact, the more will be less likely to toss that trash in the wrong place. Increased awareness builds a sense of ownership and community pride.”
Community-wide awareness begins with signage. The existing slogan, “Knock Out Litter,” accompanied by a trash can figure with big eyes and red boxing gloves, can be seen on bumper stickers and Solid Waste vehicles as well signs all over town, said Randy Atkinson, director of the Hot Springs Solid Waste Department. “We also appreciate the fact that the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record has used our slogan and logo as a filler ad at least a couple of times a week since 1992,” Atkinson added. “There’s no telling how many people have been reminded that way.”
The litter control campaign’s focus is to educate the public about existing programs, services and events. “Our city has a lot of tools to combat litter,” Atkinson said. Services include Solid Waste’s sanitation and curbside recycling pickup; two free pickups per year of heavy or bulky items or brush through the Clean, Attractive Property Service (CAPS) Program; the 24/7 Recycling Drop-off Center at the corner of Valley and Runyon streets; the Regional Recycling Center, where items like electronics, office paper, corrugated cardboard and more can be dropped off during the workday in drive-through fashion; and the city’s compost facility, accepting limbs and brush. Neighborhood Services also issues citations for junk cars and littered properties.
Related events include Clean Sweep, a three-week, multi-agency target cleanup of a target neighborhood conducted at least twice a year; the annual Spring Fling citywide cleanup event, scheduled for April 29 and 30; the semi-annual Household Hazardous Waste disposal event (including tires), slated for May 13 and October 14; the annual drive-through e-Waste Collection Event, held on August 11 and 12 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
Downtown is kept clean these days not only by multiple Solid Waste trash pickups per day, but also by a specialized litter crew that walks from block to block seven days a week, ensuring that decorative receptacles are emptied and trash is picked up from the sidewalks.
Interested groups can adopt a street by contacting Solid Waste and conducting litter pickup in a designated area two to four times a year for a minimum of two years. The adopted area may be anywhere from two blocks to a mile in length, and the group is recognized for their contributions through a sign erected by the city.
Using the city’s 24-hour Action Line to report those who litter city streets from their vehicles is good way to call attention to the serious problem of roadside litter, Atkinson added. “When you call 321-6808 any time of day or night, you can report any littering you’ve observed happen from a vehicle,” he said. “Leave a message including the make, model and license plate number as well as the date, time, location and type of littering. Your message will be transcribed and sent to the police department. This generates a letter they will send to the alleged violator, letting them know they were observed littering. The letter also reminds them of the consequences of littering and asks them to do their part to help keep our city beautiful in the future.”
Many main streets within the city, including Central, Park and Malvern avenues and Albert Pike Road, are actually maintained by the state highway system. “In that case, you can report the same details to their toll-free litter hotline at 866-811-1222,” Atkinson explained.
What everyday actions on the part of individuals and families can help make Hot Springs more beautiful? “Set an example for your kids by the way you dispose of items, either at home or when you’re out and about,” Atkinson said. “Keep your trash can lid securely on your container, carry a litter bag in your car, and report areas where illegal dumping is happening. The more we all get involved in keeping our town beautiful, the easier it will be.” To adopt a street, begin curbside recycling or to learn more, call 321-6911.