Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 2, 2012

Litter control

Problem not going away in Mercer

— — It’s going to take a more coordinated approach, and additional help from the public, to get Mercer County’s illegal trash dump problem under control once and fall.

Members of the Mercer County Commission say the public can help by reporting illegal dumping when they see it occurring. And that is correct. Citizens who see others illegally dumping, or know of illegal trash dumps in their community, should most certainly report it. How often the litter clean-ups are conducted by employees of the Mercer County Day Report Center depends on the number of calls the commission receives, according to commissioner Mike Vinciguerra.

However, at the moment, this appears to be the primary strategy the county is utilizing to tackle the rampant litter problem. The day report participants are charged with working to keep trash and junk from accumulating along major roadways. However, by the time all the county’s roads have been visited, trash has often reappeared on other roadways, according to Bill Jessee, the regional executive director for the Mercer County Day Report Center.

The last clean-up effort conducted by the day report center probationers was held about three weeks ago in the Lashmeet and Matoaka area, according to Vinciguerra.

“In a normal month, there may be one or two calls, but we’re constantly going around and picking up (trash) along the roadways of Mercer County,” Jessee said last week. According to Jessee, many of the clean-ups occur after stories about specific litter dumps appear in the Daily Telegraph.

That’s good to hear. However, it isn’t possible to have news stories about illegal litter dumps every week. That’s why a more coordinated response to the litter problem is necessary.

The day report center probationers — who are doing a good job picking up trash across the county — must remain a part of the solution. However, we also need a full-time litter control officer, or someone who is empowered to actively enforce the county’s litter control laws, and issue citations to those who are caught littering. The public also must remain an active part of the solution by reporting illegal littering, and litter dumps in their communities. Finally, the commissioners are once again urged to consider the possibility of  developing transfer stations, or convenience stations as they are often called in neighboring Tazewell County, in rural parts of Mercer County. Such transfer sites would provide a great assistance to families living in rural areas, and would help in cutting down on the county’s litter problem.

It’s time for Mercer County to get serious about litter. And it’s going to take a plan, and a coordinated response, to put a dent into this unwanted problem.

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