CAIRO — Work is underway on constructing a manned trash dumpsite along Ridge Road, but Grady County Commissioner June Knight said this week that the problem of messy dumpsites around the county isn't being resolved at a satisfactory pace.
"Our trash dumps look terrible at my own house," Knight said near the end of last week's commission meeting. "(Trash is) out in the highway."
The county spent more than $11,000 in the months of November and December for Taylor Waste to assist in clearing dozens of unruly dumpsites — messes which County Administrator Buddy Johnson largely blames on a select group of individuals.
"It's not because we don't have enough bins, (it's because) people don't put their trash in the bins," he said.
"It is not this commission's job to go out and make people put trash in the bins," Johnson continued. "If they're going to throw it on the ground, they're nasty."
To combat the situation, the commissioners voted last year to eliminate dozens of unmanned dumpsites across the county and instead only operate a handful of manned locations where trash can be better monitored.
Three existing manned dumpsites on 20th Street and North Broad Street in Cairo and Beck Branch Road in Calvary are already "working great," Johnson said, but several more sites need to open up before the remaining unmanned sites can be shuttered for good.
Once a fifth dumpsite is built, likely somewhere in the west of the county near Whigham, Johnson said the intention is to permanently close all remaining unmanned sites.
"At that point, people will have to haul their trash to the manned sites," the county administrator said.
Despite some progress, Johnson said the county needs to find a better dumpsite location for Whigham. The closest properties to Whigham that the county owns are located on State Park Road and Wight Road. County officials are attempting to purchase land closer to the city to allow for a more convenient location.
In the meantime, Knight suggested that unmanned sites be policed more intensely in order to catch individuals who don't dump their garbage properly.
Sheriff Harry Young has asked for anyone who witnesses illicit dumping or dumpster diving to contact 911 — a response which Knight suggested was not good enough.
"By the time (officers) get there, they're gone," she said.
Road department superintendent Stanley Elkins has the authority to write citations and issue summons for dumping violations, but Johnson cautioned against placing the county's civilian employees in situations outside of their typical scope of work.
"Stanley is no police officer, nor are we," Johnson told the commissioners. "With people, you don't know what you're dealing with. So I'm going to caution — before we start saying that Stanley and the road crew need to start writing tickets — let's get real. He's not a law enforcement officer, and there's a lot of bad things that can happen."
Rather, Johnson said that the county should depend upon the sheriff's office to handle such issues.
"(Sheriff Young) has said publicly that he will handle it, so I'm going to take him at his word," Johnson said.
Grady County encourages residents to consider local curbside service at their homes to avoid trash overflow.