Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 22, 2010

Unsightly problem: Snow melt, flooding unmasks litter

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

With all of the snow finally melted, debris and unsightly litter is becoming visible across our otherwise majestic mountains and valleys. The problem has been further complicated in Mercer County by the widespread flooding in recent weeks that clogged rivers and streams with tons of ugly debris. The latest setback is prompting county officials to take action. Jay Mills, a member of the Mercer County Commission, is busy working to organize a countywide cleanup day, and local participation is being urged as part of the state’s “Make it Shine” day scheduled for April 10. The East River Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited already has committed to a stream cleanup project on that day in the Oakvale area. In the city of Bluefield, officials have indicated their desire to continue the long-standing Project Clean Sweep campaign — although details for this year’s spring cleaning campaign are still being worked on at the moment. Rick Delp, Adopt-a-Highway director for the District 10 office of West Virginia Department of Highways, told a group gathered Wednesday in Princeton to discuss Mercer County’s litter problem that it is vital for individual citizens to take action by reporting illegal dumps in their communities. According to Delp, citizens should contact Sam Stalnaker, project manager of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Pollution Prevention and Open Dump Program at (304) 389-8182 for open dumps in the 13-county region of southern West Virginia. Those wishing to report and have junked vehicles removed should contact Mike McMillan at the District 10 office at (304) 487-5281. The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, which is charged with enforcing the county’s new litter control laws, was making good progress up until Dec. 17, 2009. However, after three months of snow that began on Dec. 18, 2009, and didn’t end until the first week of March, deputies were sidelined in their efforts. They are now hoping to renew their enforcement of litter laws. We welcome any and all efforts to help clean up Mercer County, and all our southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia counties. The nightmarish winter of 2009-2010 is finally over. The warmer air is finally here — and hopefully it will be sticking around. That means it is time to start cleaning up unsightly trash dumps across sour region. We can all help out by pitching in and cleaning up our yards, neighborhoods and communities. We also can participate in Adopt-A-Highway, Make It Shine and Project Clean Sweep campaigns in the region. And, most importantly, we must never illegally dump trash across our region. Spring is officially here. It’s time to tidy up our region. It won’t be long before out-of-state visitors will be back in town for events such as the Mountain Festival, the Mercer County Fair, the Tazewell County Fair and other spring and summer events. First impressions can be lasting ones. That’s why we must get an early start removing unwanted trash and debris across our region.