Greenwood leaders and a volunteer-led group of activists on Tuesday said interest litter prevention and efforts around the county has grown dramatically over the past several years, giving them hope that 2019 will be a record-breaking year for trash removal initiatives.

Last winter, Keep Greenwood County Beautiful was in the early stages of a reorganization plan, with officials unsure of how much ground they’d cover.

Between the annual Lake Greenwood cleanup, a monthlong “Team Up 2 Clean Up” push in October and ongoing education programs, several tons of garbage was collected — including 4,460 pounds’ worth at the lake and 4 ½ tons from roadways throughout the county in 2018.

“We had to recruit in order to get the right people in the right places on our board,” Keep Greenwood County Beautiful chairman Johnathan Graves said at the chapter’s annual meeting. “This is probably one of the most active community boards that I’ve ever been involved with.”

Since 2008, more than 40,000 pounds of trash has been moved from the shorelines of Lake Greenwood, with 125 volunteers fanning out across six locations last year to pick up more than 180 pounds of recycled goods and 4,460 pounds of trash.

In addition to trash pickup, Keep Greenwood County Beautiful sponsors at no cost a shred day for businesses and residents to get rid of e-waste. That led to more than 5 tons of documents and cardboard being recycled last year.

“Teamwork and support. That sums it up for 2018,” Graves said.

Greenwood County Council chairman Steve Brown and city Mayor Brandon Smith both said Tuesday that local government support for grassroots beautification programs is strong.

The county has set aside $50,000 in hospitality tax funds for litter abatement.

“We haven’t decided how to use it, where to spend it, what to do with it, but we do feel like that is a good start on our part, so we will be networking with you folks to try and get some ideas,” Brown said.

Smith, whose wife Tara has made citywide garbage pickup a top priority – hosting weekly collection sessions on Saturday mornings — said Keep Greenwood County Beautiful is a valued partner.

“On a monthly basis, there will be opportunities to clean up in the city. If we get out into the county, that’s not the end of the world of course,” Smith said.

Robert Propester, a member of Stoney Point’s litter cleanup crew, said the countywide efforts are for the benefit of everyone — but suggested more enforcement.

“I’m telling you, the last couple of years, when I have visitors come here, it’s really discouraging, the comments you get. I’ve heard other people talk about, but what are the number of statistics for people in Greenwood County that have been arrested for littering,” he said. “To me, we’re all out there with our vests on. My suggestion is when you get those people, have them do a month of weekends to pick that stuff up.”

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.