Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 19, 2013

Litter crackdown

Enforcement a first step for Mercer


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Widespread illegal trash dumps, and a pattern of rampant littering across our beautiful mountains, has been a long-standing problem in Mercer County that demands corrective action. An enforcement campaign announced this week by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with probationers assigned to the Mercer County Day Report Center is a good first start.

Sheriff’s department Chief Deputy D.B. Bailey said deputies are now actively looking for individuals who litter or dump trash on area roads and mountains. The deputies also will be working with the day report center probationers to help clean up trash dumps across the county. If a day report center employee finds a name or address in an illegal trash dump, Bailey said the probationer will pass that information on to law enforcement for investigation.

Bailey says security cameras also will be utilized at undisclosed locations across the county as part of the campaign to catch those who illegally dump trash. Individuals who are caught will face a fine under state code ranging from $100 to $25,000. Bailey adds that those who are caught littering also could be required to complete community service.

County officials have received several complaints in recent days regarding illegal trash dumps. Bailey said a few of the trouble areas include Ada, Route 112 and Country Girl Road.

“A lot of people will be dumping over the hill as well,” Bailey said. “People used to dump garbage in secluded areas. Now they will just throw it over the side of the road. I’m going to direct my guys to look for this stuff, and if they are caught to charge them right on the spot.”

Bailey said citizens who may have information regarding illegal trash dumps, or may have witnessed someone illegally dumping trash, are asked to report the information to the sheriff’s office at 304-487-8364.

The enforcement campaign is urgently needed, and welcomed. However, a greater solution is needed to Mercer County’s litter problem. For starters, the county still needs a litter control officer. Someone whose sole job is to enforce litter control in the county while also overseeing the removal of dump sites. Let’s face it. Deputies at the sheriff’s office have other things they need to be doing as well, and they can’t devote eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, to just chasing litterbugs.

And, as we have stated repeatedly in the past, the Mercer County Commission also needs to schedule a specific county-wide clean-up campaign. The five-county Mountain Pride Litter Sweep that is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, is very helpful. But the volunteers have a lot of territory to cover with five counties. That’s why we need a specific Mercer County event.

And while the county does have a free monthly dump day on the second Wednesday of each month, it needs to be rescheduled to a Saturday or a Sunday when a greater number of people who work on weekdays can take advantage of this important program.

Finally, we would once again urge the commissioners to give serious consideration and public discussion to the use of community transfer stations, or designated community trash container sites, to better assist families who may not live close to the county landfill. For example, a transfer station would be well suited for the Oakvale, Kegley, Matoaka, Montcalm and Bramwell areas. Transfer stations have been successfully utilized in neighboring Tazewell County for years.

Litter is a serious problem in Mercer County. That’s why we need a comprehensive, all-of-the-above approach, to cleaning our mountains, neighborhoods and roads.