Residents of this Midlands county are upset over growing litter problem, but officials say their hands are tied

Residents of this Midlands county are upset over growing litter problem, but officials say their hands are tied
Published: Mar. 8, 2018 at 6:32 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2018 at 7:09 PM EST
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SALUDA COUNTY (WIS) - The Saluda County Council said it can't do anything when it comes to growing amounts of litter throughout the county, especially the litter located on private property.

Amanda Corley lives on Canebreak Road in Saluda County and said she is disgusted with the growing amount of litter piling up on the side of the road.

"It's gotten to the point where it's disgusting," she said. "I'm concerned, I don't know how long it would take it seep into the water. We're on well water. Could any of this damage us? Maybe in 20 years?"

Mattresses, couches, recliners, tires, and bags of trash are strewn all over the wooded area next to the road. She said while it's always been a problem, it's gotten increasingly worse recently. However, she said her calls to the county have gone unanswered.

"Everybody wants to talk to someone else and nobody wants to do anything," she said.

She said after talking with multiple people at the county level they told her because the trash is located on private property the county is unable to help clean it up.

"The kicker about it being on private property is originally it wasn't," she said. "When the bridge washes away and they come to redo the bridge, and put new rocks down they push it onto private property."

Derrick Jones, the chair of the county council, said that accusation is unfounded and there is no evidence to support it.

"I would have to argue that point," he said. "Unless there is evidence that's been done, I'm about 100 percent sure our roads and bridges department would never do that."

Jones said county litter ordinances prevent workers from going onto private property without the consent of the landowner. Even so, he said budgetary constraints would not allow for the manpower it would require to clean up the litter.

"We'd have to raise property taxes, which we would get blamed for that," he said. "The reality is you could blame the ones who want to embarrass the county by what we're doing right now."

Corley said she's looking for the county to clean up the trash, since she claims it's a direct result of its workers pushing the litter from public to private land over time.

"It is my personal belief that when the trash dump is closed people find the closest dirt road to leave their stuff," she said.

Jones said the local recycling center is open five days a week with limited hours on some days.

"We don't have the money to have it open seven days a week," he said. "It's too bad people don't have more pride in their communities than to dump their stuff on a desolate road."

He said litter is becoming a growing problem all around the county and its one the county council is trying to address. In addition to being an eyesore, the county is conscious of the long term environmental impacts, according to Jones.

"It hurts the opportunity for new businesses coming in or people wanting to move to the community," he said. "Why would I want to live in a garbage dump, essentially?"

Jones urges those upset with the litter problem to contact their state representatives, as he said the state caps the county's millage rate for property taxes, making it difficult to add additional services to help with the cleanup.

"It's sad when it comes back to always wanting the government to take care of it," he said. "People could do their part and help out their community by taking on some of it themselves."

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