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Steve Novotney Says ... "Litterbugs An Issue in Wheeling"

A few inches of snow covered the ground here in the Wheeling area for a couple of days, but now that the flakes have melted, the streams, creeks, and the Ohio River are swollen, and the litter is visible once again.

And there's a lot of it.

People around here litter.

A lot.

It's not just along the two federal interstates either. Downtown Wheeling, especially along Main and Market streets, are filthy with paper products from local businesses because patrons purchase their beverages and hot dogs and pizza slices and then just toss the wrappers and cups in bushes, tree beds, alleys, and parking lots. Granted, I believe the city of Wheeling needs to place more waste cans around the downtown district, but there are a few that are seldom full.

The crime is committed in our neighborhoods, too, so much so that city employees have had to clear sewers of the discarded debris to avoid flooding. People dump garbage, too, in the alleys and that practice attracts rodents in areas that are more rented residential than where families own homes. The trails along the Ohio River and from East Wheeling to Elm Grove have attracted the litterbugs, as well, so it appears no ground is sacred.

The first time I visited the land where Grow Ohio Valley constructed a high-tunnel greenhouse farm, I saw several tube TVs, mattresses, and ripped-open-by-rodents garbage bags full of trash along the old roadway that once led to the Lincoln Homes complex.

I know people litter everywhere, and it makes that Native American on the national commercial cry, and I agree with the man's tears because it's sadly ugly and truly damaging to the one and only planet we have.

OK, back to the interstates … are you kidding me? The last time I was sitting at the stop light at the end of the exit ramp for the Perkins/Mount de Chantal area, I was disgusted with the amount of cigarette butts along the roadway. I didn't see a sign designating the path as a smoking or ash-tray-dumping area so I'm not 100 percent sure why people apparently believe it's OK.

And yes, I do smoke, and when smoking was permitted in my vehicles, there was always a plastic water bottle with a little bit of aqua left in the auto for disposal. That's not something we permit now as a small part of the cut-back-and-quit process, but it avoided L-I-T-T-E-R-I-N-G, an act of convenient selfishness that is against on-the-books ordinances.


No person shall throw or deposit litter in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public place within the City except in public receptacles, in authorized private receptacles for collection, or in official City dumps.

(Ord. 2814. Passed 4-4-61.)


No person, while a driver or passenger in a vehicle, shall throw or deposit litter upon any street or other public place within the City, or upon private property.
(Ord. 2814. Passed 4-4-61.)


No person shall throw or deposit litter in any park within the City except in public receptacles and in such a manner that the litter will be prevented from being carried or deposited by the elements upon any part of the park or upon any street or other public place. Where public receptacles are not provided, all such litter shall be carried away from the park by the person responsible for its presence and properly disposed of elsewhere as provided herein.
(Ord. 2814. Passed 4-4-61.)


No person shall place, deposit, dump or throw, or cause to be placed, deposited, dumped or thrown, any litter, garbage, refuse, trash, cans, bottles, papers, ashes, carcass of any dead animal or any part thereof, offal or any other offensive or unsightly matter, dirt, gravel, minerals or other material into any river, stream, creek, branch, brook, lake or pond, or upon the surface of any land within 100 yards thereof, or in such location that high water or normal drainage conditions will cause any such materials or substances to be washed into any river, stream, creek, branch, brook, lake or pond within the City.
(Ord. 5341. Passed 5-22-73.)

And if you get caught?

1103.99 PENALTY.

Whoever violates any provision of this article shall be fined not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned not more than thirty days, and may be required, in the discretion of the court, to pick up and remove from any public highway, road, street, alley or any other public park or public property in the City as designated by the court any and all litter for a total of not less than thirty hours under the supervision of the Director of Public Works or his designated agent.

(Ord. 10410. Passed 10-19-93.)

Granted, the littering law is a tough one to enforce and usually only has been when people have been busted for outright dumping with cooperating witnesses involved. These days Wheeling's police officers are far too taxed with the drug crimes and all others connected to this epidemic, so expecting law enforcement to push the improvement is unreasonable right now.

So, quite frankly, that means it comes down to us.