Photos: Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel
“Little things add up, said Ramil Celestin as he plucked a beer carton, a plastic grocery bag and a french fry box off the center lane of Pine Hills Road.
He chucked the trash into the back of a county van stacked with illegal road-side signs that shouted: ‘JUNK CARS’ and ‘DELETE YOUR BAD CREDIT.’ He had snatched up those signs, too.
‘Little things can add up to good, they can add up to bad,’ said Celestin, 57, who has worked for about a year as a ‘beautification technician,’ a title created for the job by Michelle Owens, executive director of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District.
She will address the Orange County commission…on progress in Pine Hills, one of the county’s largest communities and a place fighting to wipe away the stains of crime and blight.
‘We have a lot of exciting things that are beginning to gel in Pine Hills and, going forward, this is all going to have a huge impact on what people think of when they think of Pine Hills,’ Owens said.
Celestin believes he is making a difference in Pine Hills, where he earns $18 an hour to pick up litter and remove ‘snipe’ advertising signs. He usually works three or four mornings a week.
Celestin, also the CEO of a janitorial business, said he picks up enough trash and litter from the roads and sidewalks of Pine Hills in two mornings to fill up a dumpster.
Ramil Celestin dispose of trash he picked up in Pine Hills as part of the community’s effort to improve its image. He works mornings three or four days under the title ‘beautification technician’ and collects enough garbage in two mornings to fill a Dumpster.
‘It was really filthy, really nasty,’ Celestin said, recalling his first week picking up soda cans, cigarette packages, lottery tickets and fast food litter.
His work is a never-ending chore as a street which he cleans Friday is often trashy again by Monday.
‘But I do my best,’ Celestin said.
The tax-supported improvement district also gave ‘trash grabbers’ to some neighborhood businesses to help them tidy their store fronts.
One shop then chose to hire a homeless man to pick up litter in their parking area every week, Owens said…”
–Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel
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Photo: Bay News 9 Image
“…Two men have been working hard in their spare time to clean up Hillsborough County.
‘Blight Fighters’ working to clean up snipe signs across Hillsborough: Bill Staley, Jim Reed spend weekends picking up illegal signs They have collected over 52,000 signs since 2001 County officials say signs are a code violation Neighbors, Bill Staley and Jim Reed, have been traveling across the county and removing old signs, or as Bill calls them, road side spam. They have been doing this since 2011 and have collected over 52,000 signs.
They two guys say they take pride in their community and plan to continue working hard to keep it nice.
‘They’ve always been an irritant for me,’ Staley said.
‘We spend anywhere from 3-4 hours on a Saturday morning or Sunday morning out running the streets, so to speak,’ Reed said.
Staley and Reed are the Blight Fighters – dedicating their weekend mornings for the last six years to picking up “snipe signs” from all over Hillsborough County…
The signs are illegal and Hillsborough County’s Code Enforcement Director said they pose a big problem.
‘The snipe sign is really the biggest code violation in the county. It really impacts the most people because everybody see them,’ Ron Spiller, with the Hillsborough County Code Enforcement, said.
The signs can also pose a safety threat because they’re easily blown around during storms and can even cause flooding if they get stuck in a drain.
Hillsborough County Code Enforcement officers are on track to pick up over 70,000 of these signs this year alone, and they said they’re put out just as fast as they’re picked up – so help from guys like Staley and Reed is definitely appreciated...’”
–Fallon Silcox, Bay News 9
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Photo: Leah Powell
Bill Brinton has spent a lifetime as a protector of unspoiled views. He has successfully battled local, state and national forces bent on visual assault caused by installation of outdoor advertising and other unsightly intrusions.
He believes in the power of citizens to take a stand for the irreplaceable resources that matter most. Because of his foresight, you can be part of a mobilized citizenry that ensures our scenic surroundings for generations to come.
Bill chose to mark the 30th anniversary of the successful Jacksonville City Charter Amendment banning new billboards and removing more than 1,400 existing billboards with the creation of the Scenic Jacksonville Endowment to Protect and Enhance Scenic Beauty in Jacksonville.
When fully funded, this endowment will enable Scenic Jacksonville — also celebrating its 30th anniversary — to continue its vital work to preserve the breathtaking views we cherish and provide support for new projects that enhance our much-loved home.
It is Bill’s vision to raise $300,000 for the endowment, which is held at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. His dream is to see it provide perpetual funding for the things he holds most dear: civic engagement, advocacy, and education.
He’s eager to involve the next generation by sponsoring photo and essay contests to instil a love of our natural surroundings in young citizens.
There is so much more we can do together if we rally around Bill’s visionary leadership and ultimate victory over unsightly signage.
For more information about the fund, please contact Nina Waters, President, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida at(904) 356-4483 or email@example.com.
To contribute to the Scenic Jacksonville Endowment to Protect and Enhance Scenic Beauty in Jacksonville, go to jaxcf.org/donate and enter Scenic Jacksonville into the Search box.”
Save the Date: May 17 for a Celebration in Jacksonville
Visit the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
Photo: WFTS ABC Action News
‘Snipe Sign’ offenders face fines of $5.55/sign
“Tampa Code Enforcement is cracking down on illegal signs, often called ‘snipe signs’ across the city.
Companies who continue to illegally plaster the streets with the signs that advertise everything from credit repair to fast home flips will face fines and even court, said Sal Ruggiero of the Tampa Neighborhood Enhancement Division.
‘We actually went out and made personal contact with them and asked them to stop,’ Ruggiero said.
Code Enforcement said they’ve had some success with the personal calls, but some companies have refused to stop.
Now, the City of Tampa is fining those companies $5.55 per sign. If they still refuse to stop, the companies could end up in court.
‘They could ultimately become chronic and end up in front of a criminal judge,’ Ruggiero said. ‘Hopefully if we bombard them hard enough with bills and tickets and you know tickets, they’ll get the message.’
For people who live and work in the neighborhood, seeing the signs is frustrating.
‘I mean they’re polluting the city,’ said Anthony Moran, a West Tampa resident. ‘What’s the difference between that and throwing the garbage out your door?’….”
— Lauren Rozyla, WFTS ABC Action News
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