Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 4, 2014

Mercer County Commission seeking applicants for litter control officer

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Mercer County is now seeking applicants for a job aimed at keeping trash and illegal dumping under control.

The Mercer County Commission started advertising Sunday in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph for people interested in becoming the county’s litter control officer. This officer will patrol the county and enforce state litter and open dumping laws.

“Oh my goodness, yes,” County Commissioner Gene Buckner replied Monday when asked if illegal dumping was a problem. Getting a litter control officer has been “pretty high on the priority list.”

Once hired, the litter control officer will be a county employee who reports to the Mercer County Solid Waste Authority, Buckner said. The commission hopes to hire a person with law enforcement experience; investigative skills are important.

The new post will be funded through the county’s hotel/motel tax, he said. Keeping the county clean is an important part of promoting tourism.

“When we have people come through the county and they see trash lying around, that’s not good for the county’s outlook,” Buckner said.

The deadline for resumes is Friday, according to the county commission’s advertisement.

Keeping roadways and other areas clean for visitors has been important to communities like the town of Bramwell, where tourists from across the nation have been coming to ride the Pocahontas Trail, Mercer County’s branch of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail.

“Here in Bramwell, we’re fortunate that people don’t litter and we do keep things clean,” said Mayor Louise Stoker. “We’re constantly complemented on how clean the community is. We give great thanks to volunteers who pick up whatever is thrown out.”

Keeping litter under control helps the county make a good first impression on visitors, she said.

Rangers with the Hatfield-McCoy Trail also work to keep litter and illegal dumping along the ATV trails under control. In some cases, they have found a piece or two of trash left behind by absentminded ATV riders. Other cases are more serious.

“Usually, somebody local is coming up into the mountains and dumping on the trail,” he said. “If we can find a name or address, we try to contact them personally. If we can’t make contact, we seek a warrant for their arrest.”

In some cases, the illegal dumping was done by a person or persons who was paid by a second party to haul away trash and debris. One case involved an individual who was hired by a church to haul off debris left after a renovation project. Rangers managed to contact the pastor’s wife, and the trash was cleaned up the following day, Shrader recalled.

“It’s just something you have to keep after,” he said of littering.

Shrader added that he has not had to write a warrant in a little more than a year. There have been some cases when a litterer could not be identified.

“Somebody threw away a swing set, and a TV set. Nothing too major,” he said.