Litter, illegal dumps causing problems for county officials

Published 3:18 pm Friday, May 14, 2021

Drive along any county road in Warren County and the evidence is everywhere; the county is becoming trashy.

“One question I hear over and over is, ‘Why can’t you make people stop littering?” District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield said. She said the county gets a state grant to help with the cost of cleaning illegal dumps.

Just like Vicksburg, county authorities are fighting a never-ending battle against litter and illegal dumps where people dump everything and anything either along county rights of way or on private property.

 “I see some of everything,” county Enforcement Officer Edmond Gibbs said, “from dead carcass of animals people discard on county rights of way, household appliances, furniture, all types of household garbage; you name it, we see it.”

County Road Manager Jamie Cain said county road employees find tires, couches, furniture, boxes, garbage, shingles; most of what we see is tires. When the road crews collect discarded tires, he said they are brought back to the county barn and later collected by a company from Jackson.

Cain and Gibbs say the dumps are scattered across the county; may off county roads, where an illegal dumper can easily get out of sight from drivers traveling the main roads like U. S. 61 North and South or U.S. 80 or MS 27.

Some of the more popular sites, they say, are Fox Road, Burnt House Road, Gowall Road and Nine Mile Cutoff Road.

“Most of the time they find a hole and put it in and fill the hole and we have to go get it back out,” Cain said. “We have to use some of our heavy equipment to remove it.”

“I think a lot of times people do the illegal dumping on the weekends and late in the evening,” Gibbs said. “When we come back to work we’re faced with it. We get a lot of phone calls from people.

“People in the county will call and say someone dumped a bag of trash on the side of the road. We go investigate and we see that it’s from somebody in town somewhere sometimes,” he said.

And litter is scattered all over.

In an attempt to try and keep the county clean, Cain said, he has crews that do daily trash collections.

“We do trash pickup Monday through Thursday,” he said. “With the litter, we have three-man crews, two on the north end and two on the south end. They make their regular everyday route.

“For dumps, we have certain times of the year we pick up illegal dumps. Of course, when we pick them up, they fill them up,” he said.

Gibbs said the county has laws against littering and illegal dumps.

If someone is caught dumping illegally, he said, a citation is issued and an affidavit is filed in justice court requiring the offender to appear in court and they can be fined if found guilty. The amount, Gibbs said, is at the judge’s discretion.

A citation for littering, he said, results in a $250 fine.

The fine for illegal dumping can be from $50 to $500. The fine for dumping a dead animal is $200 to $400.

The biggest problem, however, is catching the offender. People are reluctant to report someone they see littering because they have to fill out an affidavit, appear in court and may fear retaliation if the offender is found guilty.

Cain said road crews have looked through trash while cleaning dumps to see if they can learn the identity of an offender, but finding someone is very rare.

“There are two ways that you can keep litter off the ground,” Barfield said. “One is to penalize those who are littering and that’s very hard to do — people have to be willing to report it, you to see it in action, law enforcement has to get involved.

“There are fines and there are penalties for littering but implementing those penalties is very difficult, so what you’re left with is picking up the litter,” she said.

Barfield said she is hoping to get county residents involved with keeping county roads free of litter.

Barfield said she and District 1 Supervisor Edward Herring will be on Warriors Trail Thursday between 4 and 7 p.m. “just piloting an opportunity for some community involvement. The city did that successfully on Earth Day.

“We felt like let’s start with someplace that’s heavily traveled, Warriors Trail, and go from Highway 27 to probably Mount Alban Road, and pick up as much (litter) as we can get done in three hours. Edward and I are going to be there, whether anybody shows up or not.”

Barfield said the goal is to build a spirit of community involvement.

“What I don’t think people want it is adding four, six, litter crews and the cost doing of so, and the taxes would have to go up to use county resources exclusively,” she said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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