Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 16, 2013

Litter control — Officer hiring good first step

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— The decision by the Mercer County Commission to finally hire a county litter control officer is a good first step in helping to get a rampant litter problem under control. But it is only a first step.

The commissioners says they will start advertising for a county litter control officer when the county has enough money saved to hire one and provide a vehicle. The target date for hiring the litter control officer is July 1, or the start of the new fiscal year.

The commission receives frequent complaints regarding illegal trash dumps in the county, according to board president Mike Vinciguerra. This newspaper also receives regular letters, e-mails and Facebook postings regarding the county’s litter problem.

The commission is reallocating funds previously awarded to a Raleigh County-based tourism office to help pay for the litter control officer. The commission voted unanimously during its May meeting to discontinue providing 15 percent of the county’s motel-hotel tax revenues to the Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Vinciguerra says the 15 percent amounts to $53,000 a year.

The commission will continue to allocate 50 percent of the county’s hotel-motel tax revenues to the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Local tourism officials have expressed concerns about the discontinuation of funds to the Beckley-based agency, arguing that the move will negatively impact local tourism and promotional efforts.

But one thing everyone can probably agree on is the fact that Mercer County needs a trained and aggressive litter control officer.

Vinciguerra says the county will be looking for a “real energetic, a self-motivator, sort of like a sales person where they can get out on their own” in terms of the litter control candidate. He adds the litter control officer will be a county employee who can issue citations. The successful applicant also will have to attend a school conducted by the state Department of Natural Resources for training.

We urge the commissioners to proceed with vigor on the hiring of a litter control officer. A well-qualified, aggressive, litter control officer should be hired sooner than later.

But the litter control crackdown can’t stop with the hiring of an officer. We also need to look at changing, or adding a new free dump day at the county landfill. Such a free disposal day should be held on a Saturday, when many citizens are not working and more families can take advantage of this opportunity.

And the commissioners must give serious consideration to transfer station sites or at least a revolving transfer station — a large container for trash disposal — to benefit families living in more remote areas of the county such as Montcalm, Matoaka, Bramwell and Oakvale. Such a transfer station could be rotated between the communities, or better yet, transfer stations could be placed in several of the communities.

Transfer stations are already used — to great success — in neighboring Tazewell County. It merits serious consideration in Mercer.