The City of Winchester is right protective of its entrances, or gateways, as well it should be. Sometime the vigilance and due diligence extends too far in its enforcement.

For example, earlier this year, the city hauled before the bar owners of a new Mexican eatery in Ward Plaza for having the temerity to make its window murals too colorful. First of all, the owners did not know of the city’s proscriptions when they hired a muralist to paint a number of tasteful, even beautiful Southwestern-type scenes in the old window wells. Their grievous and egregious penalty: The painter used four colors in the mural, not the city-mandated three.

Fortunately, the case seems to have been resolved to the betterment of all. Now all we need to hope for is for common sense and a strong notion of taste to become a bit more prevalent on the city’s planning boards.

Speaking of entrances and gateways, one unfortunate constant about which there should be a uniformity of opinion is trash. It’s everywhere, largely due to people wantonly releasing it from their cars, or drivers of huge trucks, whether public or private, allowing litter to escape their deep and supposedly airtight conveyances.

The reason for the latter is that state code is ignored — not just by the teamsters but, most alarmingly, by the those charged with “keeping the riverbanks clean” (from the long-ago movie “Ladies in Retirement”). That is, local officials whose job is to attend to these tasks.

Just a recent ride toward Winchester along U.S. 50 reveals a more than unhealthy supply of rubbish and refuse, largely courtesy of trucks headed toward the regional landfill along Sulphur Spring Road. What we have is an eyesore.

But then, we are talking about two localities here — Frederick County and Winchester. The entrance we just referenced — and “entrance” it most certainly is — is located in Frederick County, whose public works department has 416 square miles to oversee. This is more an explanation than an excuse, we admit. The fact is, it should be neither. Winchester is a beautiful city that merits gateways that set a tone. U.S. 50, with the FBI complex going up and the Harley Davidson outlet, with its carefully manicured landscape, do — or will, in tandem — lend that tone. But only if the county gets a better grip — and becomes a bit more persnickety, as the city has (when it opts not to go overboard) — will this concern (not a problem yet) find resolution.

State code knows no boundaries when dealing with the actual miscreants. The legal language (§ 33.2-802. Dumping trash, penalty) reads thus:

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to dump or otherwise dispose of trash, garbage, refuse, litter, a companion animal as defined in § 3.2-6500 for the purpose of disposal, or other unsightly matter on public property, including a public highway, right-of-way, or property adjacent to such highway or right-of-way, or on private property without the written consent of the owner or his agent.

B. ... When a violation of the provisions of this section has been observed by any person, and the matter illegally dumped or disposed of has been ejected or removed from a motor vehicle, the owner or operator of the motor vehicle shall be presumed to be the person ejecting or disposing of the matter. However, such presumption shall be rebuttable by competent evidence.

C. Any person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not less than $250 or more than $2,500, either or both ...

(3) comments

Tomsorchard

So, we have two problems, one is the absolute disrespect for our land and nature and the other is miss allocation of law enforcement priorities.

To solve both, we need more definitive litter signs with the maximum penalties posted and then we need law enforcement to station those corners which are at our gateways. And before someone says we don't have the manpower, take a look around the county at the number of cars giving out tickets for driving over speed limits such as 25, 30 and even 35 mph. These limits date back when pedestrians walked the streets. Other than Old Town, those days have vanished.

P.S., Our schools (if they don't already) teach respect for our land.

Eredmon

When I moved to this beautiful Shenandoah Valley 35 years ago, I couldn’t believe the trash and cigarette butts thrown from cars that litter the roads in every direction. It has not improved since. Growing up in Louisiana, I was around 10 years old sitting in the back of a neighbors car at a stoplight. When I finished my drink I threw the cup out the back window. My friends father turned around to me and said, “Eric, who is going to come behind you and pick that cup up?” I have not littered since.

Tomsorchard

Where are the people serving community service? No, this dosen't solve the problem but it certainly minimizes the impact.

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