Trash problem vexes residents, officials

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lincoln County supervisors promised stiff penalties for theperpetrator of a litter issue on Cade Lane Monday after concernedresidents there received state-level representation to help settletheir months-old dilemma.

District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith appeared before the board onbehalf of Cade Lane residents who often awake to find animal-strewngarbage in their lawns from a nearby, unsealed bin. Her presenceapparently gave supervisors the additional “umph” to set a courseof action after six months of attempting to reach out to thelandowner peaceably.

At Hyde-Smith’s urging, supervisors voted to issue a littercitation immediately – with the possibility of follow-up citationsevery day litter is found – and give the owner 30 days to bring theproblem under control before an injunction becomes an option.Hyde-Smith said the violation is a misdemeanor.

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“I’m sticking up for the home team, basically,” said Hyde-Smith,who said her litter-weary neighbors on Cade Lane asked for her helplast week at church. “I run two miles every day, and I run that way- I’ve seen that it’s a terrible mess.”

The problem on Cade Lane is an unsealed, latticework trash binused by several mobile home residents. The wooden bin has no lidand the latticework panels are broken in several spots, allowinganimals to tear into the garbage bags and strew trash around.

County Litter Control Coordinator Ronnie Durr said WasteManagement, Inc., retrieves the garbage from the bin every week,but the county-contracted company does not handle raw garbage -only bags. Busted bags are left in the bin and roadside litter isuntouched, leaving the problem to perpetuate from week to week.

“I’ve tried to deal with it in accordance with the litterordinance, and I’ve cleaned it up a couple times to try to showthat it looks better clean than it does dirty,” Durr said. “Justtrying to keep the peace, I reckon.”

Durr said the landowner in question fails the county’s litterordinance test by improper containment of garbage. He said theinstallation of a metal dumpster, or any solid bin with a closinglid, would alleviate the problem.

Board attorney Bob Allen said pressure is being asserted on thelandowner in order to push him toward a “commercial establishment”- such as renting a professional trash bin – for garbage storageand removal.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing was instructed to beginissuing the littering citations at the end of this week, but towhom exactly he will issue them remains to be seen.

During Monday’s meeting, Hyde-Smith and supervisors mentionedWilliam Hess of McComb as the offending landowner. Efforts tocontact Hess were unsuccessful.

According to county land rolls, the trash bin rests on theproperty of Charles West. When contacted later, however, West saidthe land rolls are incorrect.

West is also angry about the trash problem, and said he wouldhandle it personally if the bin were indeed on his property.

“I wish it was sitting on my property – it would have a matchstuck to it,” West said Tuesday. “For over a year, we’ve beengriping about that bin. If someone will assure me that’s on myproperty, that’s all I need to know. It’ll be gone before tomorrownight.”

West said Brookhaven Homes owner Rick Hurst installed the bin,but Hurst said he “didn’t have a dog in this fight.” Hurst said hesold all the land to the homeowners.

“It would certainly be the matter of the people who are puttingthe trash in there,” Hurst said.

Hurst may not be too far off the mark. During Monday’s meetings,Allen discussed the possibility of ticketing the homeowners.

“The person ultimately responsible for the garbage is the onewho generates it,” he said.