Johnston County

With help, Wilson’s Mills is cleaning up its litter

Dustin Nichols recently moved back to Johnston County to serve as police chief of Wilson’s Mills.
Dustin Nichols recently moved back to Johnston County to serve as police chief of Wilson’s Mills. TOWN OF WILSON’S MILLS

There’s a new police chief in town, and he’s put a renewed emphasis on cleaning up the streets, both crime and litter.

Wilson’s Mills newly sworn chief, Dustin Nichols, launched a program in November that polices litter with Johnston County offenders whose sentences include community service. Offenders in the Community Outreach and Improvement Program, or COIP for short, are also completing other projects, such as painting Town Hall.

“The cleaner the town, the better the town,” Nichols said. “And people will have a better perception about where they live.”

A Johnston County native, Nichols saw the Wilson’s Mills post as a chance to come home. He last served as a deputy with the Columbus County’s Sheriff’s Department.

Nichols said he wanted to launch the improvement program because he saw roadside trash that needed cleaning up and other projects that could benefit the town.

The lone community-service program in Wilson’s Mills for offenders, the town benefits, and so do the offenders, who do community service as an alternative to hail, the chief said.

Two former law enforcement officers volunteered to supervise the program. David McGowan and Chuck Beal ensure the offenders are safe while performing their community service and report the hours they work.

By the end of 2015, they had completed 208 hours of work on town projects.

“That's not bad considering the program started in mid-November,” Nichols said in a news release. “We look forward to a very active and productive 2016 using this program. Many of our residents have made some very positive comments about our clean roads.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation picks up the orange trash bags left by the roadsides.

Nichols said people should think twice about throwing trash out of their car windows.

“My volunteers work hard in this program, and my officers will work harder to spot who is doing the littering and ensure that they are fully prosecuted,” he said.

Knopf: 919-829-8955