|County getting tougher on illegal dumping|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
April 2, 2006 -- Hopkins County's continuing effort to reduce the amount of trash dumped along county roads and in streams received a boost Thursday when Ark-Tex Council of Governments and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved grant money to enhance the program.
The county will receive $12,400 for its environmental enforcement program, according to Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap. More effort will be focused on enforcement of the county's litter abatement policies, the judge said.
"We have baby calves dumped in ditches and appliances dumped on various ditches and streams," the judge explained. "We are going to aggressively go after the violators."
County Commissioner Burke Bullock, a member of the council of governments' committee responsible for administering the funds, said that the trash problem has grown and will continue to grow with the population.
"We have more trash, and there is no place to go with it," Bullock said. "People don't like for their neighbors to dump trash in their road or even in the vicinity, and trash dumps are getting harder to establish."
The county has used deputies to work on dumping problems and has even employed hidden cameras in an attempt to catch illegal dumping.
"We are going to do what we have been doing more efficiently," the commissioner said. "The camera, we think, has not been used as effectively as it might have been."
And special efforts will be employed to halt the practice of dumping dead calves along roads and in creeks, including working with cattle auctions in several counties, tracking ear tag identification numbers, and the use of subpoenas to identify those responsible for dumping the dead calves.
"We are going to use that information to trace back to the people that bought the animals out of the sale barn and try to trace it to the dump," Bullock said.
The county will have two enforcement officers that will handle the investigative process in tracking down owners.
Bullock also said enforcement in the county would be strict.
"I would not be going to this trouble if we did not plan to carry all the way through," he said.
Another aspect of the county's efforts to combat litter will be coming from the Hopkins County Extension office, where Extension Agent Sotero Ramirez will implement a volunteer program to get people involved and help pick up trash and be more community-oriented.
"We want to get residents of the county involved in keeping the county beautiful and also in being aware of what's going on on the county roads and in their neighborhoods," Ramirez said. "It is important that we look at program that will be beneficial for everyone in keeping the county beautiful and being aware of who their neighbors are and being a good neighbor."
Bullock, who sponsored a cleanup program in Precinct 2 last year, also said he is planning to have another in April.