Franklin County officials took two big steps last week that they hope will put a dent in the problem of people dumping trash everywhere but where it belongs.
At a press conference Friday afternoon in front of the St. George Island recycling site, Sheriff A.J. Smith signaled he planned to crack down people illegally dumping non-recyclable items there, as well as those who throw trash there or in other spots throughout the county.
As he spoke, Smith held a stack of a dozen or so images of people photographed by a surveillance camera his office installed two weeks ago at the site.
“I am holding in my hands some photographs of people who were illegally dumping,” he said. “I’m not going to identify who they are, but there’s quite a few of them.”
The sheriff said he did not plan to file charges against these individuals, as of now. (See box)
“We’re re going to wipe the slate clean,” he said. “From this point forward we’re going to make cases on people. After today, if we catch you dumping illegal items, you will be arrested.
“Follow the signs,” he said, standing below a large wooden sign that spells out the cardboard, plastic, paper, bottles and cans that are welcome there, and the Styrofoam, durable goods and other household trash that is not.
“Dump what you’re supposed to dump,” Smith said. “We saw dishwashers coming in here, we saw car batteries. Please don’t dump things that don’t belong here.
“Franklin County is a beautiful county, we want to keep it clean,” he said. “Please help keep it clean.”
In his remarks, Smith said he has been in touch with Apalachicola Police Chief Bobby Varnes, who has promised to address litter at spots such as out on Gibson Road, that are popular dumping grounds, as well as near the recycling container near Commerce Street, between Avenue G and H.
County commissioners Tuesday morning voted unanimously to remove that recycling container in Apalachicola, based on a motion by Commissioner Noah Lockley, in whose district the container sits.
“I don’t want to do it but you’re forcing my hands,” he said. “We do things to help, they got to help us too.
“We’ll wait until it cools down a little bit. Maybe we have to find another site,” Lockley said.
“I know Mr. Lockley, you don’t really want to do that,” said Commissioner Cheryl Sanders, who seconded the motion. “Maybe it will help it get better.”
Chairman Smokey Parrish said “this has been an ongoing issue for a number of years,” and agreed with Solid Waste Director Fonda Davis that an adjacent garbage Dumpster on city-owned land, used by downtown businesses, was a magnet for a lot of the illegal dumping of non-recyclables and trash at the site.’
“I think that’s leading to a lot of illegal dumping down there,” Parrish said. “Part of the problem is having those two co-located there. Practically every day of the week all kinds of stuff is thrown out there, and people think it’s the county’s responsibility.”
Commissioner Ricky Jones asked whether the county owned other property inside the city to place the recycling bins; an alternate site was not presented.
Based on Davis’ report for the last month, recycling in Apalachicola and St. George Island is pacing the entire county.
In terms of plastic, paper, glass and aluminum, St. George Island attracted 9.1 tons, while Apalachicola had 7.7 tons. Both of these areas drew more than double the other sites, which included 3.6 tons in St. James Island, 3.5 tons in Carrabelle and 3.1 tons in Eastpoint.
In terms of cardboard, which has a receptacle right alongside the recycling bins, St. George Island led the county with 24.4 tons, followed by Apalachicola with 19.7 tons, Eastpoint with 16 tons, Carrabelle with 5.9 tons and St. James Island with 1 ton.