Letter: Sevier officials should work to curb littering

Feb. 13, 2014 @ 11:47 PM

Editor,

Let me begin by being blunt. The litter and trash situation along our county’s byways is unconscionable. In traveling along the spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge yesterday, I was appalled at the mess. Trash bags, fast food bags, paper cups, newspapers and more line the roadway. Middle Creek road near LeConte Medical Center is horrible with even the frontage along the hospital property and other medical office buildings littered with trash. Chapman Highway and Dolly Parton Parkway continue to be serious offenders as well. I have traveled throughout our country, to most of the major National Parks and surrounding municipalities, and I have never seen the level of litter that I see here in Sevier County.

To their credit, well meaning volunteers and municipalities regularly send crews out to pick up the mess, only to have it return again within only a few days. Recently, the City of Gatlinburg sent workers to pick up the litter along Glades Road. Today more litter has returned.

Sevier County, along with its various municipalities are making serious investments and working hard to grow our tourist base. All have recently upgraded their tourist development programs while hiring experts, expanding state-of-the-art web sites and launching new national media campaigns. The new LeConte Center, three new multi-use sports complexes, The Island at Pigeon Forge, Dollywood’s addition of new rides and their upcoming resort hotel all promise to bring renewed interest and all-important tourist dollars to our beautiful area.

So, when those new visitors arrive, they are greeted by that ever-present trash as they travel throughout our area. The beautiful tree-lined roads with mountain streams rushing along-side, and our scenic mountain vistas with wildlife sightings, all framed with litter. What kind of statement does that make to them? Do we not care about our area? Do they begin to think that we just advertise to bring them here so that we can collect their money? Something must be done.

I call upon the Sevier Board of County Commissioners as well as the city councils of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville to establish a county-wide ordinance that will impose a $1,000 fine for littering. In addition to that measure, and this is important, place signs at frequent intervals along all major traffic routes throughout the county that announce, “$1,000 fine for littering.” Then direct local police agencies to enforce it. I have seen such signs in my travels, and there is never any litter along those roadways.

Now is the time to act. Surely the cost my proposal is a small price to pay for the rewards in return.

Chip Veranth

Gatlinburg