It could be a beautiful drive on the new highway to the hospital and Bert T. Combs Lake.  The new bridge and freshly paved road look great.  Millions of dollars have been spent on the highway, but one thing is making it and nearly all roads in Clay County look horrible right now—roadside litter.

Plastic bottles, restaurant bags, pizza boxes daunt the new Memorial Drive taking away from its natural beauty.

I’m sure you’ve seen it on your road, the ditch lines are full and overgrown grass is hiding some of it.

As you travel the state highway past AdventHealth to Bert T. Combs campground and lake you find rolling pastures and beautiful scenery.  It’s one of the most beautiful drives in Clay County some will tell you.  Once you get to the lake you will find a beautiful dock leading out in the water.  It’s a beautiful scene.  Then you’ll turn your head to the right and see more garbage and the new overflow wall completely covered with profanity laced graffiti.

Another beautiful spot in our county degraded by a select few.

Many people visit the lake right now to fish and kayak.  The lake could be a beautiful place, but some chose to make bad decisions on public property.

During my drive Monday I personally counted over 30 campers at the Bert T. Combs campground.  Obviously, I don’t know how many of those belong to people visiting our town and county, but they all had to drive past the garbage that littered the road and that garbage leaves a horrible impression of our hometown.

We have a beautiful county; except we have one serious problem and that’s garbage.

It’s not just on this road, it’s on all roads and the problem has noticeably gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

You ask what does the pandemic have to do with garbage?  More than you may realize.

State government is not allowing jails to utilize inmates to pick up trash along our roadways due to the possible spread of the virus.

Since early April Jailer Linda Smallwood has not been allowed to use inmates to pick up garbage per the state mandate.  I don’t know if we realized how much work the inmate crews were performing, but I think the lack of having them is glaring along our roads now.

So why don’t local government entities pick up the garbage?  Neither the state road crews, city or county have the manpower to pick up trash from the roads.

How do we fix this problem?

We can all look squarely in the mirror on this one.  Nobody is coming to bail us out.  Nobody is going to throw money at us to solve this problem.  It’s up to you and me to keep our county clean.  This issue starts at home, it starts with us.

A few months ago, a social media firestorm emerged over the graffiti at the lake.  Many volunteered to help paint the retaining wall.  But that enthusiasm has went away now.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has appropriated $500 worth of paint and supplies for the wall, yet no one has utilized it.

Is someone to blame?  No.  We’re all to blame actually.  Unless we take a stance and volunteer our time nothing will change.

A small group of citizens is not going to solve this problem.  Organizations like Project Hope and Stay in Clay can only do so much.  We, as citizens, can’t expect others to solve our issues.

Like the old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  It’s going to take a village to clean up our roads.

You may ask why we chose to do this story—because we love our town and county.  Hopefully drawing attention to this issue will spur the momentum needed to help solve this problem.

We need your support

We’ve been there for you, now we’re asking that you be there for us. While we will continue to share COVID-19 and urgent health news for free, we will be requiring a subscription for most of our news and sports content. Please click on SUBSCRIBE or call your local newspaper office.

Recommended for you