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County litter control efforts moving slowly
by Joe Baker
Aug 13, 2013 | 695 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joe Baker photo
A discarded hot tub and sofa  lays alongside the edge of a Karnes County road. Litter issues continue to be a problem that picked up steam with activity in the county associated with the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas boom.
Joe Baker photo A discarded hot tub and sofa lays alongside the edge of a Karnes County road. Litter issues continue to be a problem that picked up steam with activity in the county associated with the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas boom.
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KARNES CITY – Karnes County resident Cheryl Moy recently revisited the issue of litter along the edges of local highways and county roads during the public comments part of a recent meeting of Commissioners Court.

Moy expressed frustration that the county hasn’t taken any real action in regard to the issue for more than a year after the situation was brought to the attention of local officials.

It was about 16 months ago when Commissioners Court decided to appoint a litter control committee to make recommendations regarding what to the county can do to alleviate local litter problems.

One of the ideas county officials agreed to take on was the installation of video cameras at locations where the worst illegal littering is happening as a way to enforce laws that prohibit illegal dumping of trash on local roads.

Since then, only two people were appointed to the committee by the court, although they agreed to appoint a committee member from each of the four precincts.

Since the committee was never fully appointed, the effort stalled out before the committee could meet to work on the issue or bring recommendations to the court.

Moy said she asked county officials to put the item back on the agenda since then, but the item has not yet been placed on the agenda for continuing action.

“I am very passionate about what I am doing,” Moy said, “and I don’t mind waiting.”

Moy said the issue with plastic trash bags was discussed at a community meeting recently. Some communities have banned the use of such bags and she said it may be time to give the idea of a ban against such bags consideration as a possible remedy.

The progress, however, is moving too slow, according to Moy.

“I do not like my name being associated with the inactivity,” Moy said. “I have offered to serve.”

Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw told The Karnes Countywide on July 22 that she plans to put the issue of local litter issues back on the agenda for possible action in the near future.

One effort that has been making progress is a project that has joined forces between three oil and gas companied to remove trash from local roads.

Glynis Strause, community relations advisor for ConocoPhillips, said that ConocoPhillips, Pioneer and Talisman Energy are contributing financially to a three-person crew who spend 40 hours every week with a truck and trailer out on Karnes County roads removing trash from the sides of the roads.

Traffic and trash are two of the downsides of the recent oil boom, Strauss explained, so the three companies are making an effort to make the county look nicer.

“Trash is going to happen when you have convenience stores with plastic bags and wrappers,” Strause said. “And then you have people with pickups throwing stuff in the back.”

Strauss said the companies hired The Wood Group in Kenedy to hire a full time crew and truck to do the work.

Since April of this year, the crew has removed more than 20,000 pounds of trash from the sides of Karnes County roads.

Those involved in the project are hoping to do whatever is possible to raise awareness about the litter issues, so that the public can help keep trash off the roads by taking more care with how trash is disposed.

Strauss said the project is considering creating a new logo and outreach effort to help clean up local roads as one way to get the public involved. They are also looking at possible ways to encourage creative ways of recycling waste products that are produced in conjunction with all the activity in the oil and gas industry.

There has been a very positive response to the trash crew’s efforts, Strauss said. Residents have taken the time to stop the crew and say “thanks” while they are working to clean up local roads.

“We have gotten some really cool thank you notes,” Strauss said.
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