In the years previous to departing from his volunteer position with the county, the Perry County Fiscal Court, with the aid of super grants from the PRIDE organization, had cleared several major dumpsites that had been used by local residents in years past to dump their garbage. Sites were cleared at Hooterville and Ladder Branch, and the amount of waste that came from these dumps was staggering. The annual PRIDE Spring Cleanup cleared tons of roadside litter from the county as well.
Following Lewis’s departure more dumps were cleared in places like Montgomery Creek and Sam Campbell Branch. The PRIDE cleanups continued to be successful in soliciting volunteer help and clearing the county of litter.
But despite all of these efforts from local officials like Lewis and Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble, the illegal dumping on the backroads of Perry County continued. Communities like Fusonia, Hardburly, and Viper were the staging ground for illegal dumpers who opted to dump tires, appliances, and ordinary household garbage on private property away from the beaten path. They take their garbage and travel along some dirt road, find a clearing and leave behind their loads of waste best fit for a landfill.
It’s been a practice in Eastern Kentucky for years, but it’s a practice that needs to stop, said Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble.
Noble noted that cleaning the county has been a top priority of his since taking office, and he plans to tackle the illegal dumping problem head-on this year. A key component in tackling the problem with illegal dumping will be stepped up enforcement.
During his term as code enforcement officer, Tony Lewis noted that he did little else other than seek out dumps and attempt to prevent others from dumping garbage illegally. He explained during a telephone conversation Monday that he thinks that Solid Waste Coordinator Rosa Couch’s office could benefit from a full time code enforcement officer now. Lewis said Couch’s job comes with a lot of responsibility from writing grants to overseeing community service workers, and she could use more personnel in helping to locate and prevent dumping.
“They need more enforcement,” said Lewis. “I think the solid waste coordinator has her hands full. You can only do so much multitasking, and I feel that they need a full time code enforcement officer to keep people from going up in these hollers.”
Judge Noble made note that the county is looking at that possibility.
“We’re going to have cameras put out there on the different areas, and we’re looking at maybe putting more enforcement out,” he said.
The county currently has two motion detection cameras that will be deployed in sites where dumping has been known to occur in an attempt to catch dumpers in the act, and Noble said he’s looking at purchasing five more.
But it seems like the people who are continuing to dump illegally are no longer using the same dumpsites repeatedly, but are opting to dump in several different sites and scatter the garbage from place to place. Noble said he thinks there are only a few active dumps left in the county, but finding them is not an easy task.
Noble said hiring more personnel would be a possibility to aid in enforcement, and he’s also looking into meeting with Sheriff Les Burgett and the Kentucky State Police in seeing what law enforcement can do to help with not only the illegal dumping, but also with the roadside litter as well. He said he thinks he can get a lot of help from the district and circuit judges in utilizing community service workers or county prisoners to help pick up litter around the year.
“We’re not going to stop just in the PRIDE cleanup, we’re going to get out and start cleaning this year,” he said.
But on the subject of the county’s remaining dumps, a lot of work was done only recently during the PRIDE cleanup in Fusonia where community service workers and inmates from the jail along with volunteers with Coal Mining Our Future worked to clear four dumps last month. Two large dumps that were no longer in use were cleared on Pratt Mountain and on Campbells Branch.
Noble said those were two of the biggest dumps remaining in the county, and he hopes to continue to clear the four or five still remaining. He said he located two on Laurel Mountain in Yerkes and hopes to be able to utilize community service workers and volunteers to clear those dumps as well.
Ultimately, Judge Noble said these people who are dumping illegally need to realize that cleaning illegal dumps is an expensive process, and ultimately the money being used by government represents their taxes at work.
“Ninety percent of the people want to see their county kept clean. We’re working on that and we’re going to work harder on it,” he said, adding that taking offenders to task for what they’re doing will be a key step in any effort to combat the problem. “We’re going to start prosecuting harder. The prosecution is going to come down a lot tougher than it was.”
Noble added that illegal dumping can have an economic impact on the county as well, which underscores the need to prevent the activity. He said he’s pushed harder to clean the county than nearly anything he’s done since being in office, and the results are showing, but keeping the county clean is an important step.
“To get new jobs in here, and I’ve said this since I’ve been judge, if someone comes in here and they’re wanting to put a factory at Trus Joist or wherever they might be, they’re not going to put it in if they see all this litter on the side of the roads,” he said.
A simple solution to the problem, Noble noted, would be for those who aren’t doing so to begin paying their garbage bill each month, which is mandatory in Perry County.
“I suggest that everyone pay their garbage bill, because it is the law, and quit dumping out on these open dumps because we will catch you,” he said.