The highway as a giant trash can? One community fights back against the litterbugs amongst us.

Volunteers with the Poinciana Residents for Smart Change Adopt-A-Road cleanup program take tires collected on the Poinciana roads to a recycling center.

POINCIANA – As Keith Laytham is quick to point out, one of the things that Poinciana homeowners get from their association dues is a program that cleans up the local streets.
“It’s one of the things that the APV (Association of Poinciana Villages) does not get credit for,” he said. “They have crews out there every day, picking up trash, and that’s paid for by the homeowners association fees.”
And, as Laytham is equally quick to note, what the APV gives, the motorists who drive through Poinciana are ready to take away.
“It’s an endless job,” he said. “No sooner have you cleaned up a road, then a few hours later there’s all these McDonald’s bags on the ground again.”
If litterbugs and those who are not environmentally conscious are a constant problem, Laytham said there are two ways to combat the issue. One is to have a program like Keep Polk Beautiful handy, and the other is to find some hard working high school students.
Laytham lives in the Solivita development on the Polk County side of Poinciana, and he’s also the president of Poinciana Residents for Smart Change, a civic group working to improve the community of 10 villages that cut across Polk and Osceola counties.
One of their missions has been to keep Poinciana clean and appealing, Laytham said, which is why PRSC got involved in an adopt-a-road program in Polk County.
“We sponsor some roads on the Polk County side of Poinciana that we keep clean, and we do it through Keep Polk Beautiful,” Laytham said.
Keep Polk Beautiful is a program that recruits volunteers for its Adopt-A-Road efforts, which send residents out to Polk County’s roads and highways to remove trash, litter and debris.
“They contacted us and we said, ‘Yes, that’s an excellent thing for PRSC to sponsor,’ and the APV said they would work with us on it,” Laytham said.
Many of the PRSC members are seniors and retirees, Laytham said, so they turned to several Poinciana area high schools – including Liberty High School in Poinciana and Haines City High School — to recruit the volunteers they needed to hit the roads.
“What we really do is we get some volunteers from the group, and they go out and work with high school kids on this project,” Laytham said. “We supervise, and the kids do the work, and they get community service hours for it. It’s a win-win for them, and they get credit from the school for the work they do.”
PRSC decided to do the program as part of the Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest community improvement program, which takes place annually from March 1 through May 31. On the first weekend in May, PRSC sent its students out to Halibut Road and Allegheny Road in Poinciana’s Village 7 to remove any trash they found there.
“We said, ‘Tell us the dirtiest roads you’ve got,’ “ Laytham said. “Then we went to the high schools and said, ‘Give us the kids to do the work for credit hours, and we’ll go out for a day and clean up the roads.’ “
The students were walking the roads from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, May 5. There were 41 students and 14 adults working together for those four hours, and more than 32 bags of trash got collected and dropped off into local dumpsters. The kids also hauled away 41 tires that were later dropped off at a tire recycling center.
Among the items collected that day: abandoned furniture, appliances, and even a toilet.
“This is a once a year deal that we do,” Laytham said, although he added that PRSC monitors some of Poinciana’s roads on a regular basis.
“PRSC has certain roads that we’ve adopted,” he said.
To learn more about Keep Polk Beautiful, call 863-205-2761.

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