Marion County Sheriff Robert Craft does not think trash dumping in the county is a problem. However, considering it took more than three weeks to get information from a reported illegal trash-dumping incident reported by a property owner at Eagle Road and 170th, that is not surprising.
On Aug. 20, Marion County property owner Daniel Tucker of Junction City reported that someone dumped a load of trash on his property southwest of Hillsboro.
While acknowledging that his office did receive a report of dumping in the area indicated, Craft said last week it was really a non-issue.
“Trash dumping has never been a problem in our county,” Craft said.
Neighboring property owner Tim Flaming said on Monday that trash dumping on 170th and Eagle was a common occurrence.
“It seems to be a growing problem,” Flaming said. “I found a gas grill, some shingles, couches, chairs, just plain old garbage, and other stuff dumped along the road in that area. It must be someone who travels along here fairly frequently.”
County Sanitarian and Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards said that when a trash report comes to her office, her role is to determine if it is a zoning regulation violation or not.
“By zoning rules, we do not allow solid waste to generate on private properties,” Richards said. “If it is determined that it is not the property owner at fault, then I pass the report on to the sheriff’s office or Rollin Schmidt at the transfer station.”
Richards said she was aware of the dumping report from 170th and Eagle:
“It is an unfortunate incident because ultimately the property owner is responsible for the mess. But, if it is a third party doing the dumping, there could a criminal fine.”
Richards said the dumping reported in August was attributed to an as-of-yet unnamed party, and since it was not the homeowner fault, she passed the call on to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Schmidt.
Schmidt, director of household hazardous waste disposal, the noxious weed department, and the transfer station, said more and more he is called to clean up dumping messes in the county by road crews or the sheriff’s department.
“I’ve been out there to clean up shingles and furniture,” Schmidt said. “When I used to be a deputy, if I found information indicating who might be responsible, I would call them up and tell them to clean it up themselves or face a fine. I have no idea how the department handles it now.”
Schmidt said he did notice an increase of dumping calls in the past several months and thought it might be attributed to hard economic times.
“The price of gas has gone up and it takes time to load it up and take it in,” he said.
Richards said there was really no reason for people to be dumping their trash in the country.
“The transfer station in Marion is free,” she said. “Any amount of household waste that is not hazardous, like old furniture, used carpet, or trash, can be dropped off there for free.”
There is a weigh charge for appliances and the station does not take construction and demolition waste, but most items generated by the general public are accepted. Tires may be disposed of, but a pre-call is required.
“Charges can be pressed for this type of thing,” Richards said. “It really is a no-brainer to choose between a possible fine and criminal charges, or just taking a little time to load things up and take them to the transfer station for free.”
Flaming, who said he also has found mattresses, junk tossed in the trees, potted plant materials, and tires dumped in the area, said he thought whoever did it probably thought they could get away with it.
At noon on Tuesday, Craft provided information from the now-filed report on the trash dumped along Eagle Road. He said a dog collar with a tag had been found at the site.
“According to the report the owner of the dog said the collar and the tag had been missing for a year and she did not know anything else about it,” Craft said.
He said his deputy followed up on additional leads but did not have any more information on the case at this time.
“If the trash is on the county right of way, the county cleans it up,” Craft said. “If it is on personal property, the owner is responsible. There isn’t much else we can do about it.”