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Berkeley County's litter woes outlined to commissioners

May 02, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In two places one can find these things: Soda bottles, diapers, cigarettes, clothes, appliances, garbage bags.

In a store, those items would be new. Along the side of the road in Berkeley County, the diapers will be dirty, the cigarettes smoked, the garbage bags filled.

Litter is a problem in Berkeley County, but something can be done, Bill Stubblefield told the County Commissioners at their meeting Thursday night.

Stubblefield heads the anti-litter group Berkeley Community Pride, which recently gained nonprofit status.

Since forming the group, which seeks to coordinate efforts of other volunteer organizations and also provides resources to people who want to combat litter, 10 tons of trash have been picked up along road sides and from open dumps, Stubblefield said.

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"We are treating the symptoms. We are not treating the disease," Stubblefield said.

To treat the disease, Stubblefield offered several suggestions.

First, he said he hopes the county can work with the court system to get more people assigned to perform community service, rather than spend time in jail. Those on community service help tremendously with picking up litter, but far fewer are sentenced to perform community service now than in the past, Stubblefield said.

Also, enforcing litter laws is crucial, he said. Currently, charging people with littering is low on the list of police priorities, something Stubblefield said he understands, but hopes to change.

Implementing changes at the county landfill off W.Va. 9 west of Hedgesville, W.Va., might mean people would take their trash there instead of dumping it on the side of a road, Stubblefield suggested.

Currently, on one day a month people can haul trash to the landfill for free. Offering that service more often would help, especially if a free day was on a weekend, Stubblefield said.

Lastly, Stubblefield said people are not paying for garbage pickup. He said he believed pickup was mandatory.

Clint Hogbin, with the Solid Waste Authority, said state law mandates only that people dispose of their garbage and have receipts to prove it, not that they pay for pickup.

No link has been proven between mandatory pickup and less litter, Hogbin said.

Those who have been caught littering on camera in the county had garbage pickup service, Hogbin said.

One was a boy whose chore was hauling his family's garbage to the end of the driveway. Not wanting to do that, he instead loaded it onto a car and dumped it on North Mountain, Hogbin said.

Another person was caught dumping items not accepted by garbage collectors, including paint and oil products, Hogbin said.

To tackle the problems, Stubblefield suggested a task force be formed, with members to include someone from the county administration, state legislators and a Solid Waste Authority member.

County commissioners listened to Stubblefield's presentation, but did not take any action or a vote.

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