By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: May 5, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
Concerns persist following rise in littering, dumping
DINWIDDIE – It’s springtime across Southside Virginia as the sounds of birds and blooming flowers across lawns have already signaled but, in some parts of the county, the natural beauty and splendor of Dinwiddie County is being augmented by an increase in trash and litter that is proving to be unsightly and local leaders are urging residents to do their part to keep the county clean.
In April, Dinwiddie Supervisor Dr. Mark Moore expressed some concerns about an increase in trash and litter being strewn along roadways across the county, only weeks after Dinwiddie Sheriff D.T. Adams reminded people to ensure trash and other waste is properly disposed of and vehicles hauling trash to waste sites are properly covered to prevent litter from floating from their vehicles.
“If you ride along the roads of Dinwiddie, my citizens in my particular portions of the county is asking that the message get out that we all live in Dinwiddie County and what people see when they drive through or come to our community makes a great impact on how they view us as a community,” Moore remarked.
“Seeing the litter that we are seeing on the sides of the road is not having a very positive impact on Dinwiddie County,” he continued.
In March, Dinwiddie Sheriff Adams said he too had seen an increase in calls about litter and discarded trash along county roadways and its something he nor his deputies like to see occurring in the county.
“I don’t like seeing this because Dinwiddie County is a beautiful county and I hate to see these roads covered in litter like they are,” he said. “I have inmates out, weather permitting, two to three days a week cleaning up the roads in the county but, Dinwiddie County being over 500 square miles, that is a lot of roads to cover in Dinwiddie County and it is hard for me to keep up with it.”
At times, Adams said in the county’s more rural areas, things from just random refuse to full trash bags of garbage have been discarded along the county’s roads and into nearby wooded areas, noting the shift to manned waste sites has helped in terms of county beautification but also created its own challenges.
“Going to these manned sites was a blessing,” he said, “People used to dump in the woods and everywhere else, but I do think it has created another problem because people don’t secure their loads and the roads going to the site catch a lot of litter coming out of the trucks and I would encourage people to remember that you’re supposed to have your loads secure.”
Adams stressed in March that the county does enforce the state’s laws on litter, which deems it unlawful “for any person to dump or otherwise dispose of trash, garbage, refuse, litter … for the purpose of disposal, or other unsightly matter on public property, including a public highway, right-of-way, or property adjacent to such highway or right-of-way, or on private property without the written consent of the owner or his agent.”
That law adds if a person has been observed to be illegally dumping and that trash has either been ejected or removed from the vehicle, “the owner or operator of the motor vehicle shall be presumed to be the person ejecting or disposing” of the refuse unless that can be rebutted by competent evidence.
The penalty for violating this law would be a misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and a fine as low as $250 or as high as $2,500, either or both. The court, instead of a jail sentence, can require those convicted of violating this law to “perform a mandatory minimum of 10 hours of community service in litter abatement activities.”
According to Adams, that enforcement could come in the form of having discarded trash examined to determine who may have been responsible for dumping it illegally.
“I came down a country road … and I saw someone had thrown six or eight bags of trash out on the side of the road on the edge of the woods,” he said. “I sent a deputy down there to go through that trash to see if we could find a name and make the people clean it up.”
He continued, “People need to realize, if we find a bag of trash and their name is in it, they can be charged.”
The sheriff said tips from the community is how they learn about many of the dumping and litter issues and encourages residents to continue their efforts to keep them abreast of what they are seeing around the county.
“They can contact us via Facebook, call the Sheriff’s Office at 804-469-4550, or, if they see a deputy, stop and tell them,” Adams remarked, closing, “If we catch you, we will give you a ticket so think twice before you throw trash out because Dinwiddie is a beautiful county and we want to keep it that way.”
Supervisor Moore said the conversations about keeping Dinwiddie beautiful need to be more robust in communities and among neighbors in an effort to curb this recent trend of littering and illegal dumping.
“We need to do a better job of talking to our neighbors about how our roads and side ditches look,” Moore said. “We have the opportunity to tell people, ‘Hey, if you’re taking your trash to the dump or whatever may be happening, just be careful.’ If something comes out of your vehicle, pick it up and let’s do whatever we can do to make Dinwiddie a clean and safe place to be.”