BY MARY GARRISON
Like most counties in rural America, Clay County deals with its share of illegal dumping. However, in recent years, the practice has been declining locally thanks to steady efforts from state and county officials to combat the problem; most notably through a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) yearly solid waste assistance grant.
This year was no exception. Clay County supervisors voted to apply for the grant in December, according to Chancery Clerk Amy Berry, and on Tuesday, the county was awarded its yearly share in a $10,440 grant. According to an MDEQ statement to the media, funds may be used by local communities for programs to prevent and clean up unauthorized dumps, to aid in hiring local solid waste enforcement officers, public education efforts on solid waste disposal and recycling and to establish programs for the collection of white goods, bulky wastes and recyclables.
In Clay County, Berry said funds â€” which average about $10,000 per year, though have been as high as $12,000, she said â€” had been most beneficial in offsetting costs of maintaining a local solid waste enforcement officer. The position, now occupied by Billy Doss, has been active in the county since 2003, and thus far, very effective.
â€śMr. Billy drives the (sanitation) truck and has a crew of two inmates that ride with him to pick up trash along the county roads,â€ť Berry said. â€śThey look for things like illegal dumping â€¦ say theyâ€™re driving and they find a bag of trash along the edge of the woods, theyâ€™re obligated to go through it to see if they can find out whose it is.â€ť
From there, it becomes a Clay County Sheriffâ€™s Department issue. According to District 2 Supervisor Luke Lummus, who oversees county sanitation, a CCSD deputy will initiate contact with an owner should one be identified and give the alleged offender 24 hours to return to the site and clean up the mess.
â€śA lot of times whatâ€™s happened is someone will pay someone to haul stuff off to the landfill, and they take it to one of these back county roads and dump it wherever,â€ť Lummus said.
Still, Lummus said illegal dumping is a steady problem, aside from those who may try to have it hauled away.
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