By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
Cleaning up Wyoming County is an ongoing priority, according to Silas Mullins, county commissioner.
Littered roadways and stream banks as well as open dumps in residents’ yards could prove a detriment to the economic impact of the growing tourist trade in Wyoming County, according to officials.
Accumulating trash and garbage is not only an eyesore that is detrimental to economic development, it is a health hazard that breeds disease, harbors rodents and insects, as well as attracting animals such as bears, snakes and other scavengers.
Accumulating garbage is also illegal, whether it is on public or private properties.
“(Litter and garbage) discourages (tourists) and disheartens them from wanting to stay here,” according to county officials. “These outdoor enthusiasts who come to ride the trails, for the trout fishing, for the mountain biking and hiking have choices. They can go to places where the litter is picked up and it’s clean.”
“We have at least two crews a day picking up garbage somewhere in the county,” Mullins said. “Our litter officer is writing citations,” he added.
“For the most part, the public has been very supportive of this,” Mullins explained. “And we’ll try to work with people who want to cooperate.”
All the major illegal dump sites in the county, with the exception of Huff Mountain, have been cleaned up with the assistance of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Mullins noted.
The Huff Mountain site will be completed within six months, he said.
“That’s the last big illegal dump we have in the county,” he said.
The annual tire drive will again be held in the spring, Mullins said. This allows residents to get rid of old tires at no cost.
Residents may also recycle items such as newspapers, batteries and metals at the transfer station on Airport Road, commonly known as “the landfill.”
Recycling bins have also been placed in nine of the schools, he said.
The Wyoming County Commission partners with the county Solid Waste Authority on numerous projects, including the annual tire drive, stream cleanups and the schools’ recycling projects.
The Abandoned Building Committee, also under the administration of the county commission, is working to eliminate buildings that are a safety hazard as well as an eyesore.
If a building is in hazardous condition, then the committee has to weave its way through a legal process to condemn the property.
The property owner is held responsible for the costs of demolition.
Burning garbage is also illegal and will result in a fine.
State law requires that residents either subscribe to a waste collection service or officials can ask for proof the garbage has been properly disposed at an approved solid waste facility.
The county’s litter officer can order the property owner to clean up the site. If the citation is ignored, then the property owner will face criminal charges. Criminal penalties may range from $2,500 to $25,000 per day per violation and/or imprisonment of up to one year, based on state law.
Compactor/transfer stations are located in Baileysville, Glen Fork and Tralee as well as on Airport Road, near Pineville. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. If a holiday falls on Monday, the compactor stations are closed on the previous Saturday. That gives station employees the same three-day holiday as others employed by the county, according to officials.
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