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Mission continues to clean up the streets - Odessa American: Local News

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Mission continues to clean up the streets

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Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019 5:45 pm

Keep Odessa Beautiful will continue to clean up the streets.

However, the nonprofit organization hopes to set new habits for the citizens of Odessa.

Claudia Ortega, executive director of Keep Odessa Beautiful, said for the first time in the organization’s history the spring cleaning effort is going to last a full month.

Don’t Mess with Texas spring sweep will begin March 22 and last until April 22. Registration for the month-long event starts March 18.

“We became flexible with the timing,” Ortega said. “It used to be just one Saturday, but we are trying to encourage it to be a habit. We want people picking up every day, so we are encouraging them to do the whole month.

“We have businesses that have 50 to 100 volunteers. It’s easier for them to pick their own day instead of the day that we choose.”

Ortega has served as the executive director for Keep Odessa Beautiful and throughout that time she has seen many improvements in the community, but she knows there are plenty of changes that still need to happen.

In 2018, Keep Odessa Beautiful collected 509 bags of litter and 35 bags of recyclables during its spring and fall sweeps. The nonprofit organization also saw a total of 2,657 volunteers in those cleaning efforts. Ortega said it’s important to utilize reusable bags.

“We’ve seen a big impact on how the community wants to make a difference,” Ortega said. “They have come together and I have seen changes in the community. We still have many areas that we need to work on, but I have seen improvements in the seven years that I have been here.”

Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Gene Powell said the amount of litter that lines barbed wire fences or lays in gutters or ditches is upsetting.

Each year TxDOT spends more than $800,000 for cleanup efforts in Ector and Midland counties. Powell explained that money doesn’t include the Adopt-a-Highway groups that go out two or three times a year, the maintenance employees who go out every couple of weeks or so, Keep Odessa Beautiful, Keep Midland Beautiful or their adopt-a-spot groups.

“It’s embarrassing,” Powell said. “It’s embarrassing for the community. It’s embarrassing for TxDOT.”

Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said it’s disheartening to see trash litter the roadway.

“It’s really sad that people can’t wait to get to a proper place that has a trash receptacle or trash can,” Griffis said. “For myself, I gather up trash and save it up until I get to my stopping point and then I’ll throw it in the trash can. Our world is ugly enough without trash being thrown all over the place. We have places in West Odessa that are unbelievably trashed. It’s ugly out there.”

There are four penalties for illegal dumping that range from misdemeanors to felonies.

  • A class C misdemeanor is waste weighing five points or less or a volume five gallons or less.
  • A class B misdemeanor is more than five points but less than 500 pounds or a volume more than five gallon, but less than 100 cubic feet (about 748 gallons).
  • A class A misdemeanor is more than 500 pounds but less than 1,000 pounds or a volume 100 cubic feet, but less than 200 cubic feet or five pounds, but less than 200 pounds if dumped for a commercial reason.
  • The state jail felony for illegal dumping is 1,000 pounds or more or has a volume of 200 cubic feet or more, or 200 pounds or more and dumped for a commercial purpose or is contained in a closed barrel or drum.

Odessa, TX

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