Solid Waste Authority Talks Litter Initiatives
At a Thursday, April 20 meeting of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority, the authority discussed ways to combat litter in the county.
Executive Director, Terri Tyler, initiated the discussion with an update on possible state legislation that would increase the fine for littering. Tyler said the bill that would increase the fines is currently on the governor’s desk; litter would include anything from waste material, garbage, refuge, trash, disposable packages and containers.
By law, the solid waste authority currently receives $100 from each litter fine. The authority usually receives approximately $300 to $400 each year. Tyler noted that the civil penalty for littering is currently $200. When someone is fined, the amount paid is split between the state and the solid waste authority. However, if the governor signs the proposed legislation into law, the civil penalty fine would be $2,000, and the solid waste authority could now get $1,000. Tyler said the money would have to go to litter cleanup and litter control, as law legislates that the fine money must be earmarked for those purposes.
“If they litter in the streams of West Virginia, it is even worse,” Tyler said. “The fine can go up to $30,000.”
The proposed law also states that magistrates must receive permission, from the prosecuting attorney, to dismiss a littering charge.
Relatedly, Tyler said she had recently spoken to Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz. Tyler said Koontz is “on board” with combating the litter problem. She said Koontz and herself discussed flyers, discouraging litter. Tyler said Koontz also expressed interest in meeting, with all stakeholders, so that “we could be on the right page, and see if we can get something worked out.”
Tyler said she was also given contact information for the litter control officer in Wyoming County. “She would be a good one to travel here to talk to everybody about what she does,” Tyler noted.
The authority discussed possible uses for litter funds, but did not make any decision on specific use. Authority member Daniel Witschey suggested the authority wait to see if the governor would sign the law to increase the litter fines, which would then increase the amount the authority receives from the litter fines.
Later in the meeting, the authority expressed interest in hearing from the public regarding ways to combat litter.
“We’ve spent $50,000 of the public’s money last year (to clean up liter), and we will spend $50,000 of it this year. That is all well and good, but I think we need to take it to the next step, and see what we can do to prevent it in the first place,” Authority President Mark Cochran said.
Tyler suggested a public meeting in which participants would be given two to three minutes to talk.
“Before we did the countywide litter cleanup, it took a meeting to get everyone together,” Tyler said.
In another matter, the authority agreed to give $50 to the New Martinsville Rotary Club, to help the club with its initiative against drug abuse.
Authority President Mark Cochran noted that the authority isn’t in the business of “drug prevention,” but “in my view, this is a problem throughout society.”
Executive Director Tyler noted that the drug abuse epidemic is related to litter in that drug users dispose of their needles via littering.
“When we pick up litter along the road, we pick up needles everyday. If you prevent the drugs, we might not have as many needles lying around.”
Cochran noted that the Rotary’s request came via Rotary member, Tom Myslinsky. “he comes to recycling every Saturday, and he was the one that approached us,” Cochran explained.
“This drug thing is not like anything we’ve ever seen before,” Cochran noted. “This is some poison stuff that is destroying families and lives and killing people.”
Cochran said the Rotary was requesting funds to that they could perform a study in hopes of finding a viable solution to fight drug abuse. “They are wanting to do a comprehensive study of everything they can, what has worked well and what hasn’t worked well. They want to try to put together some course of action for this area.”
“This is a community problem, a societal problem, and Rotary is trying to do something,” Cochran noted.
Authority member Larry Edgell noted that Rotary “usually does a good job on different things for the community.”
“They do a good job when they are taking on things,” he said.
Authority member Witschey noted that he was worried of donating to a cause, as he was worried that requests for donations would become “a regular thing.”
Durig also was hesitant, expressing concern due to the fact that the solid waste authority had recently been struggling financially. “We were worried about ending recycling,” he noted of previous meetings, earlier in the year.
After discussion, Witschey noted that he wouldn’t be opposed to $50. The authority agreed to give $50 to the Rotary for its initiative.
In another matter, the authority approved to submit the Solid Waste Management Board’s 2017 grant application. Requests from the authority include fuel funds, property insurance money, recycling supplies, parking lot stops, advertising costs, and educational conference costs. The authority also requested safety scaffolding to use during recycling, as well as audit fees.
Also, litter totals for March 2017 were 19022.5 pounds from Saturday recycling, and 8,276 pounds from school recycling.
Also, Tyler reported that the Solid Waste Management board is having a training June 9, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wetzel County’s solid waste authority was invited to talk about its recycling program.
The next meeting of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority is Thursday, May 4.