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Earth Day reflections in Cicero

After a long, cold and snow-filled winter, spring is finally here.

It's easy to romanticize the arrival of warmer days, greener landscapes and chirping robins. But spring has its somber and sad side, too. The melted snow has exposed a great amount of litter and trash along our roads.

Drive along South Bay, Island, Bull, Cicero Center, Ladd and dozens of other roads and you will see it. Cans, papers, bottles, trash bags, mattresses, construction debris and even discarded household appliances are illegally dumped. Even the town's Park and Ride lot near Cicero's Four Corners has become a popular dumping spot.

For many years, I and other town officials have observed Earth Day by joining hundreds of volunteers who pick up roadside litter in our town. It's backbreaking and frustrating work, but it's also a stark reminder that there are thoughtless people out there who sadly have no respect for our town and its environment.

Since Cicero provides town-wide trash removal services and regularly collects discarded metal and unwanted tires from its residents, I believe most of the illegal dumpers plaguing out town live outside Cicero. They see our home as a convenient place to unload their trash. This should infuriate everyone. Illegal dumping not only defiles our town, it cost tax dollars to remove and dispose of these items.

The town has a long standing policy of prosecuting those who toss their junk along our roadsides but catching these people is not easy. Last week I spoke with Police Chief Joseph Snell about this problem and he assured me that catching these thoughtless people is a police department priority. However, Chief Snell cautioned against directly confronting anyone seen dumping trash.

Instead, anyone observing someone dumping trash should call the non-emergency 911 telephone line at 425-2333 or e-mail the Cicero Police Department at epolicing@ciceropd.us. It's helpful, too, if you can provide a license plate number and description of the vehicle.

Once again, this Earth Day we will be out there cleaning our roadsides. But I have hope that one day illegal dumping will become rare in our town, and Earth Day will be a celebration rather than a time to clean up after the most thoughtless among us.

Jim Corl, Jr. is a councilor in the town of Cicero.

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