Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 6, 2014

Litter control: A positive step for Mercer

— — The Mercer County Commission is finally taking steps to address a long-standing community litter problem. After years of being encouraged to do so by both concerned citizens and this newspaper, the commission announced earlier this week that it was advertising for a county litter control officer.

This is a long overdue move. As we have seen in past years, unwanted litter and illegal trash dumps are a significant problem across Mercer County. And this problem is further magnified during the spring and summer months. That is why it is so important to have a well-qualified, aggressive, full-time litter control officer on the job. This individual should be visible in the communities and empowered to enforce the county’s existing litter laws. That is the only way we are going to be able to get the county’s rampant litter problem under control.

The commission — and the new litter control officer — must be willing to take aggressive steps to clean-up and remove unwanted litter and trash dumps across the county. This can be accomplished with continued help from probationers with the Mercer County Day Report Center. Also, the county and its new litter control officer must be willing to actively investigate and prosecute those who choose to blemish the natural beauty of the county with unwanted trash and litter.

Once hired, the litter control officer will be a county employee who will report to the Mercer County Solid Waste Authority, according to county commissioner Gene Buckner. Buckner says the commission hopes to hire a person with law enforcement experience. He adds that investigative skills will be important.

The commission is planning to fund the new post through the county’s hotel/motel tax, he said. Buckner correctly notes that keeping the county clean is important to promoting tourism.

The deadline for potential candidates to submit a resumes for the litter control job is this Friday. It is our hope that the commission will receive a robust selection of well-qualified candidates for this all-important position.

But the litter control crackdown can’t stop with the hiring of a litter control officer. The commission also needs 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 we would urge the commissioners to give renewed 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. Neighboring Tazewell County already does this. The commissioners should be willing to meet with their Virginia-side neighbors to learn more about this process and how it works.

Spring is now only 16 days away. That’s why it is critical for the commissioners to consider all available options when it comes to fighting litter and clearing Mercer County of unwanted trash and debris. Citizens, who are tired of illegal trash dumps and unsightly litter, should demand the same.

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