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From January to Monday, the Roanoke Rapids Public Works Department has collected 390 55-gallon bags of trash, Director Larry Chalker told council this  evening.

It will be a continual effort and the trash problem in the city could lead to stiffer fines for littering as administration continues to study potential code and ordinance changes.

“Parts of town look trashy,” Councilwoman Suetta Scarbrough said before the meeting was adjourned. “People throw out trash. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do. We can encourage people to take pride in our town.”

Chalker told council as the cleanup effort led by Assistant Director Doug Love continues, “Some areas remain clean today. Some areas within days it doesn’t look like we’ve been there.”

It’s not only public works leading in the effort, it’s parks and recreation and planning and development, Chalker said. “All of the departments are working together.”

The problems not only include trash thrown on streets, but appliances left in yards and the issue of noxious weeds and grass. “We give (the public) 10 days to cut the grass.”

If grass isn’t cut within that time, the city does the job. With a $250 fee plus labor the bill averages around $330, Chalker said. “Our job is to try to abate the situation. From unmaintained fences, the list goes on and on. We continue to try to get the litter up. If we can get people to not throw trash out of (car) windows that would help a lot.”

Scarbrough said some owners of nuisance property don’t live in the state.

Councilman Wayne Smith asked City Manager Joseph Scherer where staff is with updating ordinances.

The city manager said a first draft has been received and staff is reviewing for any issues and concerns.

Said Smith: “I’d like to see fines increased.”

He said he would also like to see business owners with vacant buildings have to install glass back in windows rather than covering them with plywood.

Interim police Chief Bobby Martin said after the meeting, “We’ve got to see it (littering).”

If people are caught littering, Martin said, the fine could be up to $500 or more depending on how much trash there is. “One way to help clean up is taking trash to a trash can. That’s one of the issues we have.”