Scout project targets city litter problems

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 25, 2002

“Just because you don’t throw it down doesn’t mean you can’tpick it up.”

Boy Scout Eric Shackelford put action behind those wordsrecently when he organized a Brookway Boulevard clean-up effort ashis project to become an Eagle Scout. His goal was to raiseawareness of litter and the problems it causes for the city.

“It makes the city not look as good as it could,” saidShackelford, a sophomore at Brookhaven High School. “It makes thecity look dirty and disorganized.”

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Shackelford, the son of John and Kathy Shackelford, organizedthe clean-up campaign over two weekends in September. He and fellowmembers of Boy Scout Troop 119 focused their efforts on a sectionof Brookway Boulevard between Interstate 55 and Highway 51.

“We thought that really needed to look clean,” Shackelford said,referring to the heavily-traveled area as one of the first imagesBrookhaven visitors see when they come to the city.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, nine scouts picked up 22 bags of litterin a little under three hours. Items picked up included plywood,pipe, articles of clothing, a tire and even a mud flap from atruck.

The following weekend, five scouts collected 10 more bags ofgarbage. That raised the garbage bag total to 32 for the twoweekends.

“People had thrown out more, lots of trash,” Shackelford said,adding that recent rain prior to the second weekend had made sometrash more visible than it was before.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 12, Shackelford checked the area againand took photographs.

“There was a little less (trash), but I saw where people hadthrown out more trash,” Shackelford said. “But we made a littledent.”

Shackeford documented his project and made a presentation duringa recent board of aldermen meeting.

“The cost to our government to send employees out to collect thetrash is expensive and costs the taxpayers of our community,”Shackelford said during the city board presentation. “It is aneyesore to all who travel our roads. In some cases, it isdangerous.”

Following a review by local scout officials, Shackelford wasapproved for Eagle Scout status. He is awaiting a final designationof the status from the national organization, a process that takesseveral weeks.

Shackelford plans to continue in scouting and hopefully becomean assistant junior scout master.

“I’d like to help other scouts become eagle scouts, or get asfar as they can,” Shackelford said.

Shackelford said he would also like to stay active in thecommunity, possibly volunteering to help with Habitat for Humanityor another oganization.

As far as the trash and litter problem, Shackelford would liketo see volunteer clean-up efforts formed through churches or otherorganizations. Another way to address the litter problem is forpeople to simply clean up after themselves and put litter in thetrash can.

“That would make the city look a whole lot nicer,” Shackelfordsaid.