Trash major issue in county
Funds from a Department of Environmental Quality grant are used by the Haskell County Sheriff’s Department to help clean up trash and investigate illegal dump sites, explained Haskell County Sheriff Tim Turner.
The department received a $47,000 grant last year.
Approximately 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of trash are picked up in the county each week by an inmate work crew, which is supervised by the county’s emergency manager, Turner said.
“We’re very fortunate to have three county commissioners that are on board with the program,” the sheriff explained. The commissioners provide equipment, fuel and personnel assistance, he said.
The sheriff’s department also finds and investigates two or three illegal dumpsites each week.
“We try to find the culprit that dumped trash illegally,” the sheriff said.
When the person responsible is located, they are issued a warning and given a time period during which the dumpsite must be cleaned up, the sheriff said.
If they do not comply, a citation may be written. Those citations can range from $200 to $5,000, the sheriff said.
Turner said the sheriff’s office is seeing a decrease in the amount of trash, but the program is too new to have specific statistics.
The department was awarded the DEQ grant again this year, however the funds were reduced to only $18,000. All similar programs funded by DEQ in the state saw a decrease in funds this year, the sheriff said.
Turner said his department will use the money wisely and continue to seek help from county commissioners in order to continue the program.
The sheriff’s department will “keep the program running as long as we are able to keep it funded,” he said.
The sheriff added that trash is a community issue and he encourages all residents to think about the pollution and the extra work caused by trash, “when it just takes a little bit of extra time to go to a trash can or find somewhere to properly dispose of that illegal dump.”
Publisher’s note: In addition to picking up trash, the inmate crew also mows county property, the sheriff said.
The complete interview with Sheriff Turner can be viewed on the Stigler News-Sentinel web- site – www.stiglernews.com. Click on videos, then government videos at the top of the page. The video is titled “Tim Turner Video 8-5-19.”
Photo: This sign and others addressing the county’s zero tolerance for illegal dumping are posted on roadways.
Story by Anita Reding, submitted photo