By John L. Ross
WHITLEY COUNTY —
The time will soon come for Whitley County to get cleaner.
Amber Owens, Whitley County Project Director, said the county sought grant funds to help clean up five dump sites located throughout the county, largely in the southern part of Whitley.
The county does this annually.
Owens said Thursday she received a letter stating grant funding was awarded to clean up all five illegal dump sites.
“We got all five,” Owens said. “We are really excited.”
The most widespread dump, better known as The Ramsey Dump, is the largest dump to be tackled. “At first The Ramsey Dump was not on our list,” she said. “It was still under litigation.”
She explained the property’s owners’ last name was Ramsey. “The state tried to make the property owners pay for the cleanup costs,” Owens said. “But basically, they were no where to be found.”
That dump site is located at the end of Hwy. 2998, known as Porter Road, off KY 1804 south of Fairview. It is pretty close to the Tennessee border and can be seen from I-75.
According to Owens, the state finally gave up pursuing any litigation against the property owners.
But the mess remains, and continues to grow. “It’s an eyesore,” Owens said. “We (Owens and Danny Moses, Solid Waste Coordinator) were out there today and even came across a couple syringes at the site.”
The trash dumped at this site ranges. There is household trash, all kinds of shoes, tires, roofing materials, various car parts and even a boat. Dumped materials cover the entire area around the dead-end, pothole-ridden road leading to it.
“It’s a health hazard,” Owens said. “You can see the whole hillside is littered.”
Another dump site is located on the side of Kenny Bug Road. “There’s lots of tires at that site, too,” Owens said. “It will be difficult to get to on the hillside.”
At that dump site, a small stream flows right next to it, with pieces of litter strewn throughout. Two boats are sitting at this site, and a sign on a gate at that area says it was once TN-KY Recycling.
“It’s hard to tell what all is in there because it has been there for so long,” Owens said.
Another site is on a hillside right along U.S. 25W south of Williamsburg. That site is pretty overgrown and will also be difficult to get to.
The fourth dump site that troubles the county is on KY 2792 south of Bon. Owens said that is a hillside dump.
The fifth site slated for clean up is in Corbin at the old Corbin Hospital site. It is between Maynor Street and Bishop Street. “It’s difficult to find and far over the hill,” Owens said, explaining it had been there for a long time. “People living there didn’t even know it was there.”
That site is also littered with tires. “There’s moss growing on some of the stuff out there,” she said.
Catching those doing the dumping can be a little tricky.
“There are always ongoing investigations,” Owens said. “You can be taken to court over it.”
They’ve even brought in electronic security, including cameras. “In cases where we find dumping occurring in the same places, we’ll put up cameras to catch them,” Owens said.
She said the solid waste ordinance currently in effect in the county was enacted in 1988, and that both dumping and littering were part of that ordinance.
She said that littering fines can range up to $500. Dumping fines are the same, with added court costs and the perpetrator could be made to clean up the site, or pay to have it cleaned.
“If you’re found guilty of starting an illegal landfill, it’s considered a felony,” Owens said. “Those fines can range up to $5,000 and clean up costs.”
Any buildings on any of the sites will have to stay untouched, as per the grant agreement, according to Owens. She said they cannot remove any buildings either. The Ramsey Dump has one building on it, and the Kenny Bug dump has at least two buildings on it.
“I cannot wait to see it all cleaned up and all the tires gone,” Owens said.