Everyday Heroes

Published 12:08 am Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ray Mitchell is fed up with litter and he is doing something about it.

The retired IT manager for and aerospace company over manufacturing at Lockheed Martin, says he had a career spent commuting through the Irish Bayou of La. and being disgusted by the way fellow commuters thoughtlessly littered the roadside.

“Our company would adopt a part of the highway and we would devote a day to cleaning it up. Within two days it was as bad or worse than it was before we cleaned. I am tired of the mentality that some will clean up for other’s consistent inconsideration and disregard for the laws we have in place,” Mitchell says.

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With encouragement from City Manager Jim Luke to organize an effort to eradicate the problem, Mitchell introduced the need for a committee at a Team Picayune meeting. Before the meeting was over, he had a committee comprised of city officials and business leaders to address the problem.

Committee members are Ray Mitchell, Bill Edwards, Wayne Gouguet, Buddy McDonald, April Lovelace, Lori Stockstill, Christy Goss and Kris Landrum.

Mitchell says, “I want us to look beyond just cleaning up litter to preventing litter and beautifying not only Picayune, but the county and hopefully even influence the state. I also want our anti-litter project to complement and support the goals and objectives of the city, Team Picayune, Main Street and other organizations and/or current campaigns.

“The whole point is I don’t want to organize a movement to just clean up our city; I don’t want the litter to happen in the first place. I want to see people take pride in our city and state.”

The committee has a series of goals which include getting businesses to be responsible for the area directly in front of their business to the curb, education of small children through schools and contests which involve them getting involved, outreach to local clubs and organizations, and public brochures encouraging people to abstain from littering and report others that do.

In a letter to State Representatives, Mitchell writes, “Of major concern is that Mississippi has probably one of the worst records and weakest penalties for littering in the United States. Research has shown that the threat of being caught and punished for littering is a powerful deterrent, logically, the tougher the punishment, the more powerful the deterrent.”

Mitchell believes that tough penalties balanced with education is the key to turning the local litter issue around.

Mitchell says, “I am hoping to make a difference. I believe that a committed group of people can make a big difference.”