The debate over an anti-litter sign in the “Don’t Trash Laurens” campaign brought television cameras to last night’s Laurens City County Meeting. A local TV station was in town to record reaction to the controversial sign showing the face of a donkey and saying, “Don’t litter Jack - – this means you.”
County resident Heather Sipes presented City Council with a petition that contained 205 signatures of people she says agree with her stand. She noted the comments came from people who live in and outside town, but that all agree with her opposition to the sign and want it removed. She said “What kind of message are we teaching our impressionable children when we result to vulgarity to get a point across?” Sipes went on to say, “I not only request that these signs be removed but that you will also be more considerate of Christians and our moral values in the future. We will no longer be silent and will gladly stand up against things that we feel are not pleasing to our Lord.”
Mayor Sharon Brownlee responded, saying “I appreciate another point of view, but this sign brings on much conversation.” She said “Laurens has a huge problem with economic development and this litter problem adds to it. I have been willing to put my name to these signs.” The Mayor added that there are many folks who are overwhelmingly pleased with the signs.
Brownlee asked Streets and Sanitation Director Irwin Tribble about the success of the campaign. He said that along the East Farley Avenue roadside crews were picking up “four to five bags of trash every two weeks, but now it is down to one and a half bags.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Griffin said “We did not want the signs to be offensive but we wanted them to be effective and it is working.”
Jim Furman of Furman Ford also spoke in defense of the signs, saying that he and his employees have worked to clean up parts of the intersection near his dealership; even purchasing a machine to pick up cigarette butts. He said he appreciates the controversial signs.
Mayor Brownlee noted that the sign at that intersection of the Clinton Highway and the By-Pass did not stay there long due to an issue with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. She said she’s working with SC-DOT to resolve that objection.
The Mayor added “The whole city is becoming cleaner. The reduction in trash says that it is working, and I can definitely say -thanks to that sign – that we are having conversation, we want that conversation, and without it and its exposure in the media we would not be talking about this.”