If you care about the environment, I have a number for you to call: 330-453-3700. But first, I want to tell you about Vermont.
My wife and I visited Vermont in 1998, part of trip covering eastern Long Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Quebec and northern New York, and Vermont was easily the most scenic part of the trip thanks in part to long stretches of forest and mountains but also because Vermont at the time had a statewide prohibition against commercial signs along roads. The only signs we saw were road signs, including frequent moose warnings. (We never saw a single moose, but after all that traveling, I nearly hit a big buck half a block from home the day we returned.) It was refreshing to see scenery devoid of advertising.
So what does Vermont’s sign law have to do with the phone number I listed above? Maybe you’ve seen that phone number as you’ve driven around Stark County. It’s part of an advertisement, printed in black marker on small yellow signs, about 2 feet by 2 feet, that says, “$99 DOWN BAD CREDIT CAR LOANS (330) 453-3700.”
Pay attention as you drive around the county, and you’ll notice these yellow signs everywhere, mostly at intersections, but at times along stretches of roads in brushy areas that are not mowed. As I drove county roads from home to the Sheriff’s Office to Alliance Monday I saw two signs at the intersection of Columbus Road, three at the entrance to a vacant grocery store between Columbus Road and U.S. Route 62, two at Columbus and California Avenue, two at Columbus and state Route 44, and three along Columbus south of Harrisburg. That’s just a small sample of these ominpresent signs, which probably outnumber gas stations and fast-food restaurants combined.
Why do I want you to call that phone number? Because I want to see them removed. When I first noticed the signs a few years ago, they were printed in messy scrawls on white cardboard, and the messy writing alone bugged me. But it also bothered me that these signs reared their ugly advertising everywhere I looked. I thought at first about stopping to remove any sign I saw but soon knew that was impossible for one person.
Now the signs are black on yellow in neater printing — someone must have read that black and yellow constitute one of the most vivid color contrasts — but they are still offensive. They are litter. They don’t belong on public property in the first place, and you can bet the people who place them, probably unemployed people desperate for any work they can find, don’t remove them, and so the signs add to the ever-growing collection of roadside litter that harms soil, water and animals.
When I saw the futility of trying to keep up with removal of these signs, I decided another solution should be found. The Review ran a report on May 11 headlined “Florida city uses robocalls to fight nuisance yard signs” that said the city of Hollywood bought a $300 software program that leaves up to 20 recorded messages each to 90 businesses a day. I would like to see that happen in Stark County, but until it does, I urge all citizens who detest ugly roadside litter to take action now.
I ask you to call that number as often as possible and tell them you want the littering to stop. I also encourage you to remove signs. The business can’t prosecute you for doing so because it is breaking the law by littering. And if you don’t want to be identified when you call, precede the phone number each time you call with *67 (asterisk 67) to block the caller ID function (1167 if for some reason you have a rotary phone). I would also like our county commissioners to investigate the robocall software.
I’d like to see this company prosecuted for its ongoing crimes. Rather than pay a measly fine, the owners should be required to pick up litter, one day for each sign. Or they should be placed in public stocks where enraged activists can pelt them with rotten tomatoes and car loan applications.
So get started with my quest to beautify Stark County. And if you’re even more energetic and enthusiastic, you could ask your state representative to initiate a bill banning roadside signs entirely. Until then, let’s work on discouraging these thoughtless purveyors of car loans that disgrace (that’s “grace” with a “dis” in front of it) and despoil our county. So call now: 330-453-3700 or *67-330-453-3700. That’s 330-453-3700. Don’t forget, it’s 330-453-3700.
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