Trashing East Texas: Community Service Bringing Means Of Cleaning Up Smith County

For months, KLTV has been across East Texas working with local law officials in a fight against those "Trashing East Texas."

The series has inspired some Smith County officials to put adults to work. They are cleaning up the county and cleaning up their act.

"Smith County is a beautiful place," said Cleo Pace. "I was getting tired of looking at the horrible things we do to our roadways."

Cleo coordinates community services for Smith County Community Supervision and Corrections. After watching several of our "Trashing East Texas" stories, Cleo got an idea.

"I started the project at the first of June this year," she said. "We decided we wanted to use our community workers from the probation department to help with the program. They're all on misdemeanor probation. We're doing trash on the sides of the roads as well as big dumps where people have dumped their household garbage."

Their sentence comes from three local judges who approved and supported Cleo's idea.
Smith County Environmental Investigator Danny Brasher is thankful. With over 900 square miles to keep clean, Danny is sometimes overwhelmed.

"I'm actually getting some help," Brasher said. "The county is very large and it's very hard for me to catch up with all of this. Her idea has been a godsend."

"It's not a cost," Cleo Pace said for Smith County taxpayers. "The labor is not a cost, the supervision is not a cost."

Cleo said it is reforming the crews in more ways than one. "I think they are going to care more about the area and making sure they're not the person who throws the litter out."

Cleo said she hopes their sweat and labor is an example to all of East Texas.

"It's so easy to roll the window down, but if you stop and think that so many people are doing it, we've got to do something to stop it," she said.

The county hopes to make the cleanup program permanent. Right now, the litter crews are scheduled to work throughout the county, every weekend, until the end of the year.

Maya Golden reporting,