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A trashy situation

Two of these recycling trailers are parked in the Dollar General parking lot for the collection of cardboard and aluminum. Photo | Metcalfe County Recycling Center

By PJ Martin


The Herald-News


We’ve all seen it. We pull to a stop exiting the Parkway and while we wait we see garbage everywhere! Are people really that trashy? (Pardon the pun.)

Apparently, they are and do you know who pays to have all that mess cleaned up? Our tax dollars of course.

In the past years, the recycling center has applied for the Litter Abatement Grant from the state and received $24 up to $26,000 which was used to cover the costs of picking up trash until the funds ran out. The grant covers the cost of the labor, bags, truck use, gas, and wages.

Several roads in the county are continually being cleaned up, but the problem is getting worse. If you drive anywhere in the county you will notice litter at stop signs, intersections, literally everywhere.

One would think that with all the trash services in the county, it would cut down on the problem. People could throw their trash away at home, but apparently not.

Is it a lack of respect for property that causes people to strew trash about or a lack of responsibility for themselves? We live in a society of convenience. The more convenient a garbage can is to the person the more apt they are to throw trash in it.

We talked with Solid Waste Coordinator Scotty Mosby who has had to deal with the trash problem while collecting recyclable materials. The recycling center now has four trailers that are parked at community-accessible sites throughout the county. There are two in the Dollar General parking lot in Edmonton. These are collection points for cardboard and aluminum; however, trash has become a big problem there too.

Mosby relayed how disturbing it is to find that people are dumping their bags of garbage in the recycling trailers leaving him and his employees the dirty task of cleaning it all out. In the past, it became so bad that the trailers were taken out of service for a time. The garbage being dumped in them was destroying the cardboard items that were placed in the trailers by people using them the right way.

Mosby emphasized, “If you see people throwing trash in the recycling trailers report them!”

Metcalfe County has had an Illegal Dumping and Litter Control Ordinance (#21-0511) that has been in effect since 2021. The document specifies the enforcement of and control of solid waste collection and transportation.

It also gives the Solid Waste Enforcement Officer the authority to give people verbal warnings, written warnings, and impose fines per the ordinance specifications.

Article III: Section 1.a. states:

It is unlawful for any person to throw, discard, or deposit litter, as defined herein, in any manner or amount in or upon any private or public property, highway, street, right-of-way, body of water, or park in Metcalfe County.

Article III: Section 2 states:

Any person found to be in violation of any provision of this ordinance and shall be subject to a fine of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50) nor more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250)). In addition to, or in lieu of the fine imposed hereunder, the person so convicted may be ordered to pick up litter for not less than five (5), nor more than fifty (50) hours.

In an effort to help curb the dumping of some items, special collection dates are held by the Metcalfe County Recycling Center throughout the year to collect specific types of trash.

Each spring Metcalfe County holds a PRIDE Clean Up Day. This is an opportunity for volunteers to help clean up the county. According to Mosby, there are two volunteers he can always count on to show up, but other people just aren’t coming out to help.

Mosby said, “I would love to see more involvement in the spring with people coming out to pick trash up.”

Mosby praised the high school students and their teachers who clean up the roadsides each year. In 2023, they cleaned 20 miles of road and picked up 279 bags of garbage. That’s almost 14 bags per mile!

Another special event is co-funded by the City of Edmonton and Metcalfe County, plus a few donations. Large dumpsters are provided for individuals to deposit trash in for free. No tires, chemicals, paint, or electronics are allowed. These dumpsters are located at sites such as the county barn. As one dumpster becomes full, it is replaced with another empty dumpster for people to bring their trash. This process is repeated until the funds run out. Last year 22 dumpsters full of trash were collected and the cost of those 22 dumpsters totaled $12,000.

Mosby pointed out that sadly there are abusers of that also. One person brought wagon loads of trash to throw into the dumpsters, repeatedly. These free dumpsters are not meant to be used as your own personal dump site. They are meant for everyone within Metcalfe County.

The 2024 Tire Amnesty Days are scheduled for May 16, 17, and 18 at the Metcalfe County Fairgrounds. Any old tires you have lying around can be brought to the fairground during the hours of 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. for this event.

Mosby stated that last year there were 12 semi-loads tightly packed with 76,000 tires that individuals brought in. That’s a lot of tires that won’t be cleaned out of ditches and illegal dump sites!

There may not be a hazardous waste day which is to collect chemicals, cleaners, paints, oil, and other such liquids in closed containers. Unfortunately, the turn out to the last one was so bad, that they might never receive funds for another.

Mosby explained why the recycling center can no longer accept plastics. “It costs about 70 – 80 dollars to sort and bale one bale of plastic.” adding that, “the bale only brings about $10.”

Last year, students cleaned 20 miles of roadway and picked up 249 bags of trash. They did a fantastic job. Photo | Facebook Metcalfe County Recycling Center


1 Comment

  1. Christopher Gail Lagermann on March 18, 2024 at 11:02 am

    That’s why we can’t have nice things, PJ! Bill and I try to pitch in on the cleanup days and it is discouraging to see more trash on the road as you drive home. I appreciate the job that Scotty Mosby and his crew does!

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