Hardin Valley’s roadside litter problem was tackled head on last week by local business owner Jackson Sutton.
“I saw on social media where people were upset about the trash situation, and my customers have complained about it,” said the Hardin Valley Academy Class of 2019 graduate who has owned and operated Sutt’s Landscaping since 2018. “But I also noticed how a lot of people complaining weren’t really doing anything about it.
“I did find a litter group that goes out twice a year, but I thought if we could maybe do it monthly, it would really make a difference. Plus, we have all the equipment, and I realized a lot of people don’t have great access to be able to do roadside clean-up in a larger scale, or can’t do it safely.”
Sutton decided to lead by example, announcing on Facebook he would lead a collection effort “to restore some areas,” starting Wednesday, Feb. 10, and encouraged residents to post roads that needed the most attention.
He and co-workers Eric Branner and Zane Cantinella picked up supplies and worked for seven hours that day, collecting 40 bags of garbage along Solway Road, starting at the Ken-Jo Market and ending at the U.S. Cellular soccer fields.
Sutton said he picked that particular stretch of roadway “because I have a lot of customers (among the neighborhoods) back that way, and they complained a lot about the trash. I was aware of it, and was also hoping to not only make the people I work for happy and give them a reason to smile, but also thought we could make even more people happy that way.
“We were very careful to do it safely, but there were some places we just couldn’t get to or were private property, and we didn’t want to trespass,” he added. “... It was a really great feeling when we could see how much better everything looked as we were going along.”
They also got inspiration from drivers as they worked.
“We had a lot of people slow down and thank us and tell us what a good job we were doing, or just wave. It was really encouraging to us when we were working,” Sutton said.
He is hoping the effort will become a monthly endeavor and include other volunteers.
“I know of several troubled areas, like Campbell Station, from Hardin Valley into Farragut,” he said, indicating that stretch is on his radar. “Several areas were mentioned on Facebook needing some trash pickup.
“We had some folks indicate they wanted to volunteer last week; but really, there wasn’t time to involve others in the cleanup ...,” he added. “We may end up doing our own Facebook page for the cleanup, but right now if people want to get involved they can call me or text me (865-304-3230).
“I really just want to make people smile everywhere they go in our Valley.”