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Commissioners discuss illegal dumps

It was spring cleaning in November at the Pike County Commissioners work session and meeting, as commissioners listened to requests to clean up illegal dump sites and replace dated tractors and other vehicles.

At the afternoon work session, Commissioner Charlie Harris introduced Dave Avant from Regional Environmental Solutions and Recycling, who offered his company’s services to find illegal dump sites and clean them up at no charge to the county. Regional Environmental Solutions and Recycling works with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to locate dump sites, plan cleanings, supervise garbage removal and inspect the area afterward.

Illegal dump sites tend to crop up on rural roads and pieces of untended property, Avant said. The company’s services are covered by a $1 per ton price increase on legal dumps that arose from legislation in 2008 regarding the solid waste trust fund. 50 percent of the money goes to ADEM, 25 percent to recycling efforts, and 25 percent to cleaning up illegal dumps. Avant said the sites would be covered for cleanup if the owner of the property where the dump is located did not know about the dump and was not responsible for it.

“Once a dump starts, they just get bigger and bigger,” he said. “It’s a bad eyesore, and it’s not good for the environment,” he said in an interview.

Commissioner Harris said the cleanup company would be a helpful addition to the county’s environmental needs, and requested that the commission put the issue on the agenda for the next meeting. No requests can be approved or denied at a work session.

“I think this is a good thing for this county,” Harris said.

He added that the company could cooperate with the county’s solid waste officer to identify and clean illegal dumps.

At the commission meeting, County Engineer Russell Oliver delivered a presentation about the county’s heavy equipment needs and lack of funds. Of an expected $160,000 per year fund for large equipment, most of which is needed to maintain roads and clear foliage, the county has received and spent $15,000 in the past two years on a used bucket truck. Oliver estimated the county’s large equipment needs at $561,400.

“That’s what we need right now,” he said.

In the near future, the county would need $1,078,000 for tractors, trailers, scrapers, rollers and bulldozers. In his presentation, he referred to a 2008 memo in which he presented the county’s equipment needs to the commissioners.

“We’re either going to shut down and quit working, or we’re going to have to buy new equipment,” he said.

After hearing Oliver’s petition, commissioners Charlie Harris, Jimmy Barron and Oren Fannin volunteered for a committee to seek funds to purchase large equipment.

In other news, commissioners conducted the annual approval of county bank accounts. They also approved an alcohol license application for retail beer for Hattaways Truck Stop on Highway 231.