Trash problem in Lincoln County is ‘far worse than you can imagine’

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, October 12, 2017

It’s not unusual for Bob Knight and Joshua Loftin to fill a truckbed every day with garbage collected on the side of Lincoln County roads. Some of the litter is piled up around “No Dumping” signs.

The problem, Knight said, is that some people don’t care.

Knight is the solid waste coordinator for Lincoln County. Loftin is a state trusty from the Lincoln County jail who Knight picks up each morning to run the roads with him and clean up garbage tossed into creeks, under bridges and in ditches.

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“This is almost every day,” Knight said, flipping through pictures on his iPhone of dump sites they’ve cleared just this month.

“It’s far worse than you can imagine,” Loftin said.

They recently cleaned a dump they found covering the side of a ravine off of Tiger Lane. They were able to find some identifying paperwork in the trash, which they turned into sheriff’s deputies.

Illegal dumping, after all, can be prosecuted in Lincoln County Justice Court and judges can hand down fines from $50 to $500 and even jail time for frequent offenders, said County Administrator David Fields.

Knight doesn’t think the people identified in the paperwork he found were the culprits in this case.

“I don’t think it’s those people that did it,” he said. “I think they probably just got evicted and someone said, ‘I’ll just throw it out somewhere.’”

Knight and Loftin found personal photographs and trophies among the garbage.

“You don’t throw away pictures of your kids,” Knight said.

Though they find illegal dump sites throughout the county, Knight said Loyd Star has some of the worse and most frequent occurrences.

“Opelousas Road, they are notorious for dumping on it,” he said. “Loyd Star is probably the worst area. It’s a gravel road and there’s no houses or nothing, and they run in there and they just dump it. Some of the stuff — like couches are another big thing — they’ll dump it in front of somebody’s house. They just don’t care.”

He flips to another photograph he’s captured with his phone.

“Look at this. Dumping it right in the middle of the road. That is 2-by-4s and somebody’s old deck,” he said. “Look at this. Twenty-one bags of garbage. Just threw it out on the side of the road out there at Loyd Star on Sam’s or Oil Field Lane. I mean, it’s ridiculous.”

In the piles — some fresh bags rest on top of rusted cans and old wood from earlier dumpings — they find household trash, children’s graded homework, beer bottles and food containers.

“What it looks like is that the trash piled up or they wouldn’t put it out by the road,” Loftin said.

Knight has given up trying to figure out how someone can justify dumping garbage on public property for others to clean up at the expense of taxpayers.

“We don’t know all the circumstances,” he said. “It could be someone and they’re moving in behind somebody else and that’s their junk and they say, ‘Hey, that’s not my problem.’ But it is your problem when you take it and chunk it on the side of the road.”

They recently picked up 12 tons of garbage at one site. Some of the litter is broken refrigerators they dig out of swampy creek water.

That’s a problem that brings on the wrath of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

“You’re messing with DEQ,” Knight said. “You get DEQ involved, they’re not going to play games. And they’re going to make an example out of you, especially on stuff like that. You get the DEQ involved, you’re really fixing to tick somebody off.”

The two find tires tossed out in the woods near the county roads.

They take those to the District 2 barn on Old Hwy. 51 for disposal and the public can, too.

The service is only available for individuals, not body shops, mechanics or dealers, Fields said.

“It’s really for the public to bring their old tires instead of either burning them or throwing them in the rivers, creeks, whatever or throwing them on the side of the road they can bring them there and dump them for free,” Loftin said.

The tires are recycled through Southern Tire to make rubber for playgrounds and ball fields.

The Keep Lincoln County Clean Board hosted the Lincoln County Dumpster Days in April and May so that residents could property dispose of old household debris at dumpster sites located in each of the five districts. This was the 17th year for the program.

Homer Richardson, a volunteer with the group, said 364 tons of debris was collected this year, including old televisions, computers, couches, shingles and even an old boat. He said 31 tons of white goods such as old appliances, air conditioners, stoves and refrigerators were collected.

They also received 4,655 used tires.

“Everything that could be recycled will be kept out of the city dump with the remainder being properly being disposed of at the landfill,” Richardson said in May. “The entire process went very smoothly with people being very cooperative and putting debris in or near the dumpsters. They were very patient while waiting to unload their items and kept the area clean.”

Richardson said the group hopes to have a “Household Hazardous Waste Day” prior to next year’s Dumpster Day events.

“With budget constraints this year, we were unable to have a special day for collecting hazardous materials, but please store any of these kind of materials in a safe place for disposal in the spring of next year where they can then be properly collected and removed for disposal,” he said.

To report an illegal dump, call the Lincoln County Solid Waste office at 601-757-2568 or notify a county supervisor.