We in the KALB office often hear words of thanks for all that is accomplished through our organization each year. We really don’t deserve the thanks. It is our volunteers that answer our calls.

We recently called for volunteers to come out and help with our Elk River Cleanup on March 4th. As always, our call was answered and great work was accomplished. Fifty-seven volunteers braved the cold morning, which turned into a beautiful, sunny day, to pick up other people’s trash.

Throughout the year, we have dedicated groups and individuals who participate in the Adopt-A-Spot program by cleaning up a stretch of roadway in the city or county on a routine basis. You don’t always see these volunteers, but they are out there quietly working to make our communities better.

There are also people living in our communities who only think of themselves by asking these questions: Can I save the few dollars it would cost to take my trash to the transfer station by just tossing it down a ravine? Can I pocket the money I charged the homeowner to properly dispose of old roofing shingles if I just dump them under the bridge? It’s just too far to go to take my tires to the Limestone County district tool shed to be properly recycled; so should I just roll them down this hill into the river? Why shouldn’t I leave all these beer bottles in the woods after I’ve partied with my friends? Why would I want to properly dispose of all that tangled fishing line when I can just leave it on the river bank? Why should I trash my car when I can just toss this fast food bag and drink bottle out the window?

If any of the people who ask those questions had someone to answer them, they may or may not have changed their mind about how to proceed.

It is the duty of those of us who do know the answers to these questions to speak up. If you see someone dumping trash, report it. If you see someone litter from their vehicle, report it to us. We work with the Athens Police Department and the Limestone County Sheriff Department to help track down offenders.

The volunteers who came out to help clean up the Elk River removed 7,380 lbs. of trash and debris from the river and surrounding land areas. A portion was loose trash that washed up from the water. Most of it consisted of things like TV sets, tires, mattresses, carpet, bags of trash, dead animals and much more. These items ended up at the river as a result of someone’s laziness, ignorance, or just lack of pride.

On behalf of the KALB Commission, I thank those of you who came out to help with the river cleanup this year, and those who have adopted an area of their community to clean. Athens and Limestone County are filled with good people willing to do the dirty work of cleaning up after others. We thank you.

Be a voice. If you see something, say something. You can report littering and illegal dumping by using our online reporting, by email, or by phone. Visit our website at http://kalbcares.com to find the online report under the Litter Control tab.
Take a stand against a littered community. It truly matters.
By: Lynne Hart

As we begin the month of March, the KALB organization kicks off a very busy season. There are a few things taking place during this month. Read on to learn more about classroom presentations, free seedlings, volunteer opportunities, free dump day and recycling information. We invite you to march right up and participate in something that is of interest to you.

4-H Presentations

In November, we presented a program on recycling to more than 40 Limestone County 4th and 5th grade 4-H clubs/classes. Several more county classes will be visited in March as well as all 5th and 6th grade classes in the Athens City Schools. We are following Chloe Wilson, Foundation Regional Extension Agent with 4-H, and will present the same program using a competitive Jeopardy game. When all is said and done, we will have reached over 1,500 students with our message. It is a rigorous schedule, and I tip my hat to the 4-H agents who do this month after month during the school year. We appreciate the opportunity to join forces with the 4-H team.

Elk River Cleanup
This annual event will be held on Saturday, March 4th. We welcome volunteers to join us in our efforts. No particular skill or ability level is required. All you need is a desire to give back and protect the river which provides our drinking water and recreational opportunities.

Volunteers will meet at the Hatchery Rd. boat launch area at 8:00 a.m. Lunch will be provided at noon, as well as a drawing for lots of prizes. Contact us for information.

Free Tree Seedlings

KALB is grateful to have received 800 tree seedlings from the Alabama Forestry Commission to be given away to Limestone County residents. Members of KALB have first choice of trees and may reserve them via email or phone. All remaining trees will be given away at the Limestone County Home and Garden Show on March 10th and 11th taking place at the Event Center in Athens.

The following is a list of seedlings that will be available: bald cypress, crepe myrtle, river birch, black gum, redbud and Shumard oak.

Free Dump Day
Each year, Limestone County residents have an opportunity to take a pickup truck or trailer load of trash to the transfer station free of charge. On Saturday, March 25th from 7 a.m. until noon, residents will once again have the chance to dump their junk at no cost. Gates close promptly at noon. The transfer station is located at 16100 BFI Lane off Hwy. 72 just before 7-Mile Post Rd. (heading west).

RESTRICTIONS: Refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners must have compressors removed, or be accompanied by a receipt showing that the Freon has been professionally removed. No hazardous chemicals or medical waste. Limit of 4 automobile tires per load (please recycle – see below). You may be asked to show proof of residency; so be prepared with a utility bill. No contractors will be permitted to dump free.

Although the transfer station will accept up to 4 tires per household, we ask that you take all tires to the county shed in your district where they will be recycled. Sheds are located as follows:

  • District 1: 22555 Elkton Road (7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
  • District 2: 24795 Pepper Road (7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
  • District 3: 14119 Ripley Road (6 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
  • District 4: 22155 Section Line Road (7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)

Please also remember that books of all kinds, metals, paper, cardboard, plastic and glass bottles and jars, and electronics can be recycled at our Athens-Limestone Recycling Center on Lucas Ferry Rd. in Athens. If you are unsure whether something is recyclable, please call 256-233-8746 or 256-233-8000 for assistance.

Let’s make our communities better together.
By: Lynne Hart

Every morning I get out of bed and take water for granted. I flush, shower, brush, make coffee, and wash my breakfast dishes. Water. It’s just there.

Where does all the water that flows through our pipes and into our homes come from? Whether you live in the City of Athens or elsewhere in Limestone County, that water comes from the Elk River. Over 14 million gallons per day is drawn from the Elk River, purified, and sent to our homes and businesses.

That alone is a good reason for us to want to keep our river clean; however, there are many other reasons. The Elk River also provides opportunities for recreation, as our cleanup logo reflects. Picnics, fishing, boating, hiking, enjoying nature, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and bird watching are just a few of the activities that take place on or near the Elk River. It is a tremendous resource to Athens and Limestone County.


Volunteer Opportunities

We are looking for volunteers of all ages to join others in an effort to remove trash and debris from the Elk River. KALB’s annual Elk River Cleanup will take place on Saturday, March 4th at 8 a.m. All volunteers will meet at the Hatchery Rd. boat launch in West Limestone for supplies and instructions. KALB and TVA will provide trash bags, gloves, and litter grabbers. Volunteers are welcome to bring additional tools such as rakes, chains, etc. Boats, canoes and kayaks are also welcomed. Be aware of water levels and have all safety gear necessary. After a group photo is taken, volunteers will be disbursed to areas along the river.

No Trash Weighing! Everyone Can Win!
This year, there will be no team competitions. That means no hauling of trash back to the starting point! Instead of team prizes, all volunteers that work from 8 a.m. to noon will have their name entered into a drawing for several prizes. This gives all volunteers a chance to win.

A complimentary lunch will also be served at noon. Email or call to let us know you are coming so we can reserve your lunch. It helps us prepare if we have an idea of how many volunteers to expect. We will have extra food for those who decide to join at the last minute.

Everyone Is Responsible

We are all accountable for the condition of our river, and we should examine our behaviors that relate to either helping to keep the river healthy or polluting this precious water source. Here are some things we need to ask ourselves:

  • Am I careful about the type and amount of fertilizers I use?
  • Do I make the best choices when purchasing household chemicals?
  • Do I quickly repair oil and other fluid leaks? Do I recycle motor oil and transmission fluids? The Athens-Limestone Recycling Center accepts motor oil. Some transmission repair businesses will accept transmission fluid.
  • If applicable, do I inspect my septic system every 3 years and pump the tank as necessary? This will help prevent bacteria and viruses from leaking into storm water or ground water.
  • Do I dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks and toilets or flush old medicines without looking for alternative methods of disposal?
  • Do I toss loose trash in the bed of my truck? Do I cover loads to prevent unintentional littering?
  • Do I place all trash in a garbage bag before placing it in my trash can? Loose items in a trash can will easily become litter when the cans are dumped. Remember, litter from miles away can make its way to the river by way of wind, water, and wildlife.

Let’s take personal responsibility for our part in keeping our river healthy. Participating in the Elk River Cleanup will be an eye-opening experience. Please join us.
By: Lynne Hart

Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful is so proud to be a part of the Scout House project in Athens.

Through a $20,000 grant provided by Lowe’s through Keep America Beautiful, KALB has helped kick start the renovations needed to turn the Scout House, also known as the Little Red Schoolhouse, into a place that will bring musical arts in a variety of formats.

The Scout House, located on the corner of Washington and East Streets, was built in 1938 as a place for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to meet and have recreation. The building has since been used for other purposes, including housing the Athens City Schools administrative office. Over the years, the Scout House has seen deterioration and is now vacant; however, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form and is significant to Athens and Limestone County.
KALB’s grant money was used to complete Phase 1 of the project. This included complete repair and repainting of the front façade, and the addition of xeriscaping to the front of the property.

Xeriscape is a type of landscape that uses plants that will easily tolerate the water conditions in the location chosen. It was also important that the plants used be native and reflect the period in which the Scout House was built. When working with our landscaper, Distinctive Landscaping, Inc., we also asked for plants that would attract pollinators, including butterflies.

Plants selected include wintergreen boxwoods and, low and behold, butterfly bushes, which are varieties that will remain small. Also included are azaleas, endless summer hydrangeas, and a variety of spring bulbs. It should be beautiful once the plants are established.

We at KALB are so grateful to Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s for providing the grant opportunity, and Scott Brannan of Distinctive Landscaping, Inc. for donating a portion of services to this project.

It has been so exciting to see the work being done and seeing the difference being made. Friends of the Scout House are working to secure additional grants and donations to complete the remaining work on the exterior, as well as improvements to the interior of the building.

KALB is in the business of promoting pride. People who take pride in their country, their state, and their community are more likely to take ownership and work toward a clean, healthy, more beautiful and culturally-rich city and county. We look forward to the day when this building will bring our musical history and opportunities to engage in many forms of music to all who wish to partake.

For information and ongoing progress of this project, visit the Friends of the Scout House Facebook page.
By: Lynne Hart

KALB and our recycling center receive numerous phone calls every month asking how to dispose of leftover paint. Although we have addressed this on our Facebook page, on our website, and here in Athens Now, we feel it’s important that we address it again.

How you dispose of leftover paint depends on the type of paint you have. Some paint is considered household hazardous waste (HHW) and some is not.

If any of the following is true of your paint, then it cannot be placed in your trash under any conditions. It must be disposed of at a proper household hazardous waste collection.

  • The paint is oil based.
  • The paint is listed as mildew resistant or a preservative.
  • The paint is more than 20 years old (it may contain lead).

Athens and Limestone County residents have not had access to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection since 2008. Other items considered as HHW include automobile fluids, pesticides, garden chemicals, some household cleaners, and more. KALB and our recycling center have attempted several times to find funding so that we can hold another collection, but have been unsuccessful.

Although this is discouraging, it is illegal and dangerous to dispose of any household hazardous waste in any other manner. Also to be considered is the presence of many of these hazardous items could be dangerous in the event of a fire. If this is of concern to you, please address this with your city councilman and/or your county commissioner who may help find a solution to this problem.

Latex Paint

Latex paint, or water-based paint, is NOT considered a household hazardous waste; however, it CANNOT be placed in your trash in liquid form. Much damage can occur to roadways and trash collection trucks from liquid paints.

Never pour paint down a drain. It can be harmful to your pipes and is not good for the water supply. It is also harmful to pour paint onto the ground.

Here are safe ways to get rid of leftover latex paint:

  • Use it up or donate it: Mix light colors together and use as primer on your next paint job, or offer it to someone else with a painting project.
  • If you have full or nearly full cans: Check with the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they will accept it for resale.
  • Dry it up: Once latex paint is completely dry, it is no longer a danger to trash trucks or roadways. Cans that are ¼ full or less can be placed in a safe location away from children and pets with lids off and allowed to dry. Once the paint is completely dry, you can place the can in with recycling or in your trash container. Larger amounts: Line a cardboard box with a trash bag and place it in a safe location away from children and pets. Pour paint into the box and add a drying agent such as kitty litter, sand, or shredded paper. You can also purchase paint hardener from Lowe’s or other DIY or hardware store that will work quickly and easily. Once the paint is completely dry, you may place the garbage bag of paint into you regular trash.

The number of phone calls we receive tells us that this information needs to be shared. Please help us do that by passing along this article to others who might be interested. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, visit our website, and let us know if you’d like to receive our monthly eNewsletter. We never share email address and won’t spam you. Encourage others to do the same.

Let’s make our community better together.
By: Lynne Hart

2017 will be the year that KALB celebrates our 40th anniversary. Our organization, originally known as Athens-Limestone Clean Community, was established in 1977 as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, with a concern for litter education and abatement.

Our organization has certainly evolved since that time, adding recycling and beautification to our efforts. But the original purpose of this organization has not changed. We are still working to educate our community on the dangers of litter and instilling community pride so that the littering will stop.

It is a difficult challenge because KALB cannot do this by ourselves. Our mission is to empower citizens of Athens and Limestone County to take greater responsibility for enhancing their community environment. This is not a one-man job. It requires government leadership and participation by businesses and individuals throughout Athens and Limestone County.

As I was looking through historical data reflecting on the history of KALB, I came across an article written for a Clean Community newsletter in 1982, author unknown. It spoke loudly and clearly as to the role of KALB and the role of the community in keeping our city and county roadsides, rivers, and parks clean and beautiful. Here are some excerpts from that article.

“What do you perceive as the role of the Clean Community Commission in Athens and Limestone County? Because of some comments heard recently, the Commission feels there are many mistaken ideas about the role of the Clean Community Commission (now known as the KALB Commission).

Commission (sic) members are not supposed to meet every Saturday morning on Hwy. 31 to pick up the median so everyone can ride by and wave and tell us ‘Hey, you are doing a great job – how about picking up the off-ramp from 31 to 72!’ Our job is not to call people with uncut lots and demand that they have them cut. Our job is not to demand that businesses ‘clean up their act’ in order to get a pat on the back from Sparky. Our job is not to purchase flowers and shrubs to plant all over town for your enjoyment. Our job is not to organize mass cleanups once a year to clean up Athens-Limestone County ‘once and for all.’ Our job is not to spend every day at the recycling center sorting cans, newspapers and office papers.

So, what is Clean Community? What do they do? Why do we need a paid coordinator if they don’t do anything?”

The article continues to share information about the Commission, which currently consists of 18 of some of the best volunteers Limestone County has to offer. The Commission’s task is to develop programs that offer YOU the opportunity to help improve YOUR community by learning more about the sources of litter and the many ways it affects us, how recycling makes a difference, and why beautification efforts can increase property values and decrease crime.

Working toward a clean community is an education process. KALB constantly tackles that in classroom across the county, at events such as our Elk River Cleanup, Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO, and litter-free Fiddlers Convention. KALB’s Facebook page, our website, and articles such as those in Athens Now contribute to this education process. Becoming a litter-free community will happen when enough people make lifestyle changes that will make a difference.

As stated in the 1982 article, “Clean Community is YOU doing YOUR part wherever you live and work to make sure the sources of litter dry up. It is only when each and every citizen does his part that Clean Community will be successful. We need your ideas and volunteer hours, so call us. The Clean Community System is YOUR volunteer program for a litter-free community.”

Please do your part each and every day. Learn why litter is harmful so you can make personal changes and teach others not to litter. Recycle all you can. Add your spot of beauty to the community by planting flowers and keeping your property clean.
I have been in Athens since 1999. I have seen Clean Community evolve into Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful with added programs, classroom presentation, and educational community events. I have seen change take place and KALB didn’t do it. We only provided the tools for YOU to make it happen.
By: Lynne Hart

Every single Saturday, Sunday and holiday, our plant manager, Ruby McCartney, and assistant manager, Keri Chalmers, come to work to dump the collection bins in front of the Recycling Center on Lucas Ferry Rd. These dedicated employees work 6 or 7 day weeks nearly all year long.

This year we would like to give these employees a full holiday weekend to enjoy their families. In order for us to give this gift to them, your help is needed.

On Friday, December 23rd, all of the drop-off bins in front of the recycling center will be removed. There will be no recycling drop off from noon that Friday through 7:00 a.m. on Monday, December 26th.

It is amazing how many people drop off their recycling on Christmas Day! Maybe they are on their way to Grandma’s for Christmas dinner and the center is on the way. Maybe some people just like to get rid of the clutter as quickly as possible.

This year we are asking everyone to hold on to their recycling until Monday, December 26th. We want our employees to enjoy an uninterrupted Christmas weekend. They work awfully hard all year long and we’d like you to help us give them this gift of time.

The Fourth R
We talk about the three Rs all the time. You know them: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. When we visit classrooms, we often share with them the fourth R – RESPECT.
When we have a job to do, it is so important to do it well. A good job reflects well on us; however, the other part of the equation is consideration of the person who must handle our work next. That might be someone painting a wall we’ve primed, adding the next part on an assembly line, or editing an article we’ve written. It might also be the person who handles the recycling we’ve dropped off at the center. We are respecting the next person who must handle our work by doing the very best we can with our part of a process.

Please remember that all our materials are sorted by hand. In order to receive the best prices for materials, they have to be as free of contaminants as possible. We are always amazed at some of the things we find mixed in with the recycling. I’ll just leave it to your imagination!

Here are a few things each of us can do to help streamline the work being done at the recycling center, saving time and expense. I know that I am probably preaching to the choir here. If you read these articles, you already care. Here they are to be shared as needed:

• Remove all Styrofoam, ribbons, bows, peanuts and other items before recycling boxes. These items are not recyclable and must be removed by hand.
• Flatten boxes. This saves room in collection containers and reduces the need for them to be emptied – especially on the weekends.
• Rinse milk jugs before recycling. Soured milk does not make for pleasant working conditions, especially during warm weather.
• Separate recyclables from your garbage.
• Follow the signs that indicate things we DO NOT accept, such as household hazardous waste, tires, and paint. Tires can be taken to one of the four Limestone County Garages for recycling.

A gift you can give all through the year is to just keep recycling! It is good for the environment, good for our community, and it keeps your neighbors employed. Every effort you make is greatly appreciated!
By: Lynne Hart

12-2-2016-9-14-26-amIf you’ve been past Big Spring Memorial Park, or the duck pond as locals know it, you’ve probably seen the Christmas trees lined up and ready for decorations. This is all in preparation for the 2nd annual North Pole Stroll that will kick off on Saturday, December 3rd and continue through the holidays. It’s not too late to adopt a tree! Just give the Tourism office a call at 256-232-5411.

KALB always strives to be different, so our “tired” snowman family will once again make an appearance at this year’s North Pole Stroll. Last year, they were “tired” tourists exhausted from visiting all of the great destinations in Limestone County. This year, they will be “tired” of waiting for Santa. It just makes perfect sense that an organization such as ours that advocates recycling would reuse something for our display. We are all about the 3 Rs!

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Most of us probably don’t give much thought to the fact that millions of tires are discarded each year. Tire mountains used to be a common sight, and I have personally seen one in Cleveland, Ohio that caught fire. Tire fires are difficult to put out, often take weeks or months to extinguish, and create large amounts of noxious fumes. Scrap tires can cause huge environmental problems.
Over the years, changes have been made to the way tires are handled. In our state, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has taken measures to assist with proper handling of old tires. Our state generates about 5 million scrap tires annually and an additional 4 million are brought into Alabama from other states.

According to the ADEM website, since the Alabama Scrap Tire Program was instituted, approximately 7,092,000 scrap tires from all sources are beneficially reused annually. About 96.5% are utilized as fuel or substitute raw material and 3.5% are reused through engineered and other uses. Of course, the steel belts are also recycled.

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The Limestone County Commission has secured a grant through ADEM that allows them to accept tires for recycling from Limestone County residents through September 30, 2018. Our recycling center is NOT equipped to accept tires; however, you may take them to any of the four Limestone County District Tool Sheds where collection trailers are located.

12-2-2016-9-14-51-amHere is where you can help. If you have old tires on your property, you have the perfect opportunity to dispose of them free of charge and ensure they are recycled. Only you have the power to gather and recycle tires located on your property.

There is never an excuse for tossing tires in the river, over banks, or on roadsides. Disposal is FREE and the hazards of discarded tires include mosquito and rodent breeding, water pollution, and more. If you see them, consider picking them up if you are able, or at least let your commissioner know where they are located.

It was at one of the county tool sheds that KALB found the size and number of tires needed to put our snowman family together.
Be sure to schedule time during the holiday season to visit the North Pole Stroll and the “tired” snowman family at Big Spring Memorial Park. When Santa visits, be sure to let him know that you recycle!
By: Lynne Hart

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11-18-2016-2-49-02-pmIt is that time of year when we turn our focus to the holidays. For most of us, that means lots of family time, cooking, baking and, of course, eating! The first thing that comes to my mind is the wonderful smell of a roasting turkey. I’m obviously not the only one. Forty-five million others in the United States will be enjoying turkey, too – although our cooking methods may be different.

Some love to grill their turkey and others will deep fry it in peanut oil. I prefer a turkey roasted in the oven. No matter how the turkey is cooked, there will be grease. When our plates are clean and the leftovers stored, there will be a lot of kitchen fats, oils and grease (FOG) to be handled.

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FOG can originate from vegetable or animal sources, such as dairy products, vegetable oil, olive oil, or fats from cooking meats. Fats, oils and grease poured into the wastewater system (sewers) will cool and become a sticky layer on sewer pipes. The sticky mess then attracts and holds other food particles and debris that flows through the drains causing blockages or clogs. These clogs can then cause overflows. Removing these blockages is very costly, both financially and to the health of the environment.

The Athens Wastewater Department spends tens of thousands of dollars removing these clogs, the cost of which is passed on to the consumer. We all know who that is!

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In 2012, the Wastewater Department, in cooperation with Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, developed the FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) Collection and Recycling Program to help reduce the occurrence of clogs. This program provides an easy way to recycle household FOGs. KALB continues to work with the Wastewater Department educating residents about the dangers of improper disposal of fats, oils and grease because there is still so much that is not being captured.

In our haste to get things done, we often think that “just a little bit” of grease down the drain won’t hurt. With a hot water chaser, it will be ok. That is false thinking. Eventually that small amount of oil or grease will cool and attach itself to the pipe. All those little fatty party animals will get together and invite everything else you let slip down the drain to join them. That could become a costly plumbing repair bill for Joe Homeowner. If you don’t create enough fats, oils or grease to collect for recycling, let the fats cool, then wipe the pan and discard the fats into your trash.

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How To Participate
FOG Collection and Recycling containers are available free of charge to Athens and Limestone County residents. Just pick one up from the white FOG cages located at the following locations:
• Athens-Limestone Recycling Center – 15896 Lucas Ferry Rd.
• KALB Office – 125 East Street
• Utility Building – 1806 Wilkinson St.
• Various apartment complexes in Athens (check with apartment management)

Once the container is full, return it to the bottom shelf of any of the collection cages. The contents will be processed and used in a variety of products.

Since the program started in 2012, nearly 4,000 gallons of fats, oils and grease have been recycled. If you produce fats, oils or grease in your kitchen, then this program is designed for you. Please take the time to keep these harmful materials out of the wastewater system and allow them to be useful again.

Pick up your FOG container now so you have it ready for your holiday cooking, then continue to keep grease out of the sewer lines by using the program throughout the year.
Call KALB or the Athens Wastewater Department if you have questions about this program.
By: Lynne Hart

11-4-2016-10-23-59-amI am told that fall has arrived, but the temperatures make it difficult to tell! Although we are experiencing cooler nights, our daytime temperatures have frequently felt more like summer.

The biggest problem we are experiencing in North Alabama is lack of rain. Limestone County is under extreme drought conditions, which is the second-highest intensity level. It will take over 10 to 14 inches of rain to take our area out of drought conditions. Climatologists are saying that this is the worst drought we’ve experienced in nearly 10 years.

Vegetation is drying up due to lack of water as you can tell by the crunching sound you hear when you walk across the grass. This creates a very dangerous situation. The simplest spark can cause the dried vegetation to catch fire. According to the Alabama Forestry Commission website, from October 1st through October 28th there were 1,028 wildfires in the state destroying 11,232 acres.

Currently there is little rain in sight.

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“No Burn Order” in effect
Governor Robert Bentley has signed a Drought Emergency Declaration, or a No Burn Order, into effect which includes Limestone County. So what does that mean?
Due to extreme risk of wildfires, it is illegal to do any of the following while a No Burn Order is in effect:
• Set fire to plants, trees, or grass.
• Build a campfire or bon fire
• Burn trash or debris
• Any other type of open burning
Failure to comply could cost the offender up to a $500 fine or 6 months in jail.

Cigarette Litter
As I drove to work earlier this week, I saw a cigarette butt in the middle of a road which was still smoking. All it would have taken was a bit of wind to blow that smoldering filter to the grass and start a fire. These drought conditions have led to a high number of grass fires in our area. I know that there are many causes for this such as farming equipment hitting a rock, vehicles dragging chains, etc. That does not negate the dangers of cigarette butts causing fires, especially in this serious drought situation.
KALB has pocket ashtrays which allow smokers to safely store cigarette butts until they can be properly discarded. PLEASE, if you are a smoker, be a responsible one. Do not toss your butts into the environment where they can cause fires and leach dangerous chemicals into the environment. KALB is not interested in lecturing anyone about the act of smoking; however, we do feel a responsibility to remind those who do smoke to choose not to pollute the environment or take a chance on starting a wildfire.

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Once No Burn Order Lifted
Once the drought conditions have improved and the No Burn Order has been lifted, there are still things we need to remember about open burning. The following information is taken from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management regulations under section 335-3-3-.01.

Open burning authorized by this paragraph shall comply with the following conditions:

• The burning must take place on the property on which the combustible fuel originates;
• The location of the burning must be at least 500 feet from the nearest occupied dwelling, other than a dwelling located on the property on which the burning is conducted;
• The burning must be controlled so as to avoid creating a traffic hazard on any public road, street, or highway as a result of the air contaminants emitted;
• Only vegetation and untreated wood may be burned. It is unauthorized to open burn heavy oils, asphalt products, plastics, vinyl materials, insulation, paper, cardboard, natural or synthetic rubber, salvage or scrap materials, chemicals, garbage, treated or painted wood, or any trash;
• Initial burning may be commenced only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. No combustible material is to be added to the fire between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day;
• Burning shall be conducted only when there is good ventilation and when the prevailing wind direction is away from any built-up area in the vicinity. No burning shall be conducted in areas under a current air stagnation advisory issued by the National Weather Service or during a “Drought Emergency” declared by the Governor;
• The fire shall be attended at all times.

Let’s work together to keep our community safe.
By: Lynne Hart

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