Patrick Taylor – Highlands Mayor
I want to thank the more than 80 volunteers that participated in last weekend’s Highlands Plateau Cleanup. We collected more than 18 cubic yards of road trash and litter. The corridors to the town look great.
I also want to thank the Highlands Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring and coordinating the event. Beverly Wichman and Bob Kieltyka did a great job in making this event run smoothly. Steve Mehder, a great volunteer at the chamber, always lends his assistance before and during the event. The Town of Highlands Sanitation Department under the guidance of Larry Holt and the U.S. Forest Service staff under the direction of Richard McClure are critical to making sure the more than 150 bags of trash are transported to the proper location for disposal.
I appreciate the Highlands Police Department and the Macon County Sheriff’s Department’s efforts to slow motorists down while the cleanup was under way. As a side note, many volunteers on the roads realized a lot of folks drive too fast for these mountain conditions.
Businesses on the plateau also helped. Old Edwards Inn had a bus load of employees that participated in the cleanup. Under the guidance of George Powell of Highlands Aerial Park, the cleanup of NC 106 extended from Highlands all the way to the state line. Tate Landscaping and the Mountain Retreat also had workers that cleaned parts of NC106. Julianna’s has adopted a portion of 106 and routinely does a pickup. I hope other business will follow Julianna Stoddlemyer’s example and adopt sections of the corridors.
Fred Motz and the Methodist Men’s Club have adopted a portion of US 64 going north to Cashiers. They were out on Saturday picking up litter well beyond their adopted area. David Young organized a group that picked up US 64 well into Jackson County.
This cleanup was a joint effort with the volunteers from Franklin also cleaning up US 64 and meeting us around the Gorge. It was great to meet with Krash Gooder and his group from Franklin at the picnic celebration at Founders Park.
While the roads look so good immediately after the cleanup, conditions a few day later can be disheartening. On Monday around the curve at the Buck Creek intersection was a half filled plastic bag of peat moss that had fallen off a truck. The truck was probably leaving a job in Highlands when the unsecured bag fell into the roadway. Volunteers on Saturday collected similar materials like insulation and sheetrock scraps. Bud Light must be the most popular beer in town based on the number of cans collected. While many of us do not litter, we hire other folks who do. There are those who directly choose to litter and others who do it by not securing loads being transported to and from our worksites.
While this one day event was a great success, we all need to address this roadway litter problem with a more comprehensive, year-long strategy. I will be discussing ideas with my friends at the Highlands Chamber of Commerce about developing an education program and a system of periodic sweeps for litter. I believe the business community has a tremendous stake in making Highlands a beautiful and attractive place for our residents and visitors.