Originally published in the Oologah Lake Leader on April 13, 1987.
That wonderful invention of the mind of Walt Kelly, Pogo Possum, once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I met the enemy this morning and she is one of us. Dear pretty lady in the shiny black car, we all know that you care for your car. You keep it all shiny clean on the outside and drive it all so carefully to prevent dents and dings. You must be a safety-conscious person, too, because I could see your shoulder harness in place as you sat properly at the traffic light and politely waited your turn.
With all your thoughtfulness, how did you ever become such a thoughtless creature as a scatterpillar? Opening your door at Lynn Riggs and Will Rogers, the number one intersection of the largest city in the county, you dumped an ashtray filled with filtered cigarette butts, wiped the container with a tissue and drove away, leaving the filth and clutter beneath the sign that directs people to the Will Rogers Memorial.
Litter multiplies. A single box or bag of trash dropped by the road, either by accident or design, will attract other trash. Our county commissioner will readily attest to the fact that a bag of trash becomes a pile of litter that quickly grows into an unsightly dump of junk tires, discarded furniture, and rusting appliances.
Recently the City of Claremore sought funding for a Main Street facelift project. Plans are afoot for upgrading downtown utility lines, storm drains, and street refurbishing. Something will even be done about the beautiful but misplaced pear trees. But what is to be done about public attitude? If the home folks can thoughtlessly dump trash at high noon on the busiest intersection in the county, is there any hope for our highways and scenic backroads? Without a change in attitude, I have little hope.
One man in a position to help bring about a change in our mental attitude has taken the first brave step. He needs our support and encouragement. District Judge Steve Adams recently had a defendant before the court charged with littering. A plea of guilty was entered and the usual court watchers expected the usual ten-dollar fine. The judge instead imposed the maximum fine of $100. It is safe to assume that there is now one more person in the county who will never, never, never litter again.
A few more such well-deserved fines and a lot of publicity in the local media should go far in curbing the urge to litter. A little more green left at the bar of justice by thoughtless and uncaring people will of far in the fight to uncluttered Green Country.
Thanks, Judge Adams. Now, how about a few hours of community service with a garbage bag to go along with the fine? Sort of returning to the scene of the crime.