The color photos of packing materials and other debris left scattered behind Athens business establishments made a nearly full courtroom of spectators gasp audibly.

City of Athens Sanitation Manager Earl Glaze showed a PowerPoint presentation to the City Council Monday night as the latest round in a city crackdown on litter.

“The business sector is the major contributor to the litter problem in Athens,” said Glaze.

The council said it’s time for law enforcement to stop issuing warnings and to cite offenders.

The council recently appropriated funds to Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful to use as cash incentives for non-profit groups to “Adopt-A-Spot” to keep clean. Councilman Ronnie Marks commented in a recent council meeting that at least one industrial prospect turned down Athens as a new location because he said the litter problem showed that the citizens of Athens do not care about their city.

Glaze showed slide after slide of both downtown and major highway businesses that leave wire-sided cardboard collection containers uncovered. The contents of the heaping containers blow across residential neighborhoods.

He also showed improperly bagged or un-bagged garbage spilling out of city rollout containers in front of residences, left for garbage collectors to clean up.

“It’s time we started really cleaning up Athens or put in on the back burner,” said Glaze. “It starts at home. We need a code enforcement person just devoted to litter, who would report back to the council.”

Presently, former animal control officer Ron Ultz is the sole code enforcement officer. Glaze said the job is too big for one person.

Glaze said he is asking all city department heads to instruct their employees to keep their premises cleaned up. As an illustration, he showed slides of the old Recycling Center on Stewart Drive and the old Street and Sanitation headquarters on Armory Drive where peeling metal buildings and debris litter the grounds.

“We also expect each business to keep their places cleaned up,” said Glaze.

Glaze said that citing business owners and residents is just the beginning. He said Municipal Court should hand down stiffer sentences, such as community service, and fines to those who violate existing litter ordinances.

“They’ve got to know it’s against the city ordinances,” said Council President Harold Wales. “That’s just terrible.”

Councilwoman Milly Caudle said city officers should do away with repeated warnings and cite a business or person after just one warning.

“I don’t think you need to warn someone over and over,” said Caudle. “You decide on how many times and then apply is equitably. We need to get the police department and the courts working together on this. I started my career as an educator in the public schools. I told them once…”

Councilman Johnny Crutcher called for “serious action. Warn them once and that’s enough.”

Police Chief Wayne Harper said that his officers are business owners and individuals for abandoned cars.

“It’s better than it used to be when it would drag on for six months,” said Harper. “It’s been a frustrating battle for years.”

Councilman Jimmy Gill asked why abandoned car ordinances laws are not being enforced.

Councilman Ronnie Marks suggested doing a “spread sheet” of abandoned cars and “checking them off like we do on abandoned houses.”

“If we need another code enforcement officer, I’ll introduce it,” said Marks.

Resident Quentin Anderson suggested that the city put a display advertisement in the newspaper warning people that the city is cracking down.

“I’ll do it, ” said Wales. “We’ll let them know: ‘You’d better get it cleaned up, because here we come.”

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