Commissioner asking for allies in war on litter
Feb. 12, 2018 at 9:30 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2018 at 6 a.m.
Much of the trash headed for the Victoria landfill - almost - makes it there.
"It looks like a landfill from U.S. 59 over to Farm-to-Market Road 1686," said Commissioner Danny Garcia, Precinct 1. "I'm getting phone calls from the people living out there."
Litter dots the shoulders of U.S. 87 and SH 185 as some trash falls from vehicles that fail to secure their garbage loads on their way to the only landfill in the county.
"We're talking refrigerators, mattresses, full trash bags," he said. "It's unsightly."
Although the landfill collects fees to fund cleanup efforts, Garcia called for better preventative measures at Monday's commissioners court meeting.
"My proposal would be to sit down with the city, the county and the state and figure out a way to fix this," Garcia said.
Although the landfill's permit requires it to clean up garbage within a mile radius, highway-side litter remains a problem within and outside that area, Garcia said. The landfill pays for regular cleanups by collecting a fee from those who bring garbage but fail to tarp, tether and secure their loads.
The highways have languished for about eight months after a plan to get county jail inmates to do the work cheaply was put on hold, Garcia said. And the commissioner said he can't get his own employees to do the work because the highways are property of the Texas Department of Transportation.
While probationers do occasionally pick up trash for community service hours, their work is not enough to stop the overwhelming tide of trash, Garcia said.
Anyway, Garcia said, litter cleanups by inmates, state employees or other workers, are merely temporary solutions.
"Cleaning it up is not the fix," Garcia said. "Patrolling the area, giving fines to the folks who are causing the problem, (then) you'll see the problem go away."
And Darryl Lesak, director of environmental services for the city, agreed.
"We had a discussion on this last week," he said. "We've noticed it not just that way but all around town."
Although Lesak could not be reached for comment Monday, he said during the meeting that he is speaking with sheriff's office representatives to "hit those peak times that people are on the highway."
Fines for first-time littering in the county are $295, said a justice of the peace office employee.
"We can work together to ... cause interruption in the people who think they can drive around and just let stuff fly out," Lesak said.