The News recently sat down with Williamsburg County Sheriff Stephen Gardner and County Supervisor Tiffany Wright to discuss questions posed on a video about trash cleanup posted on The News - Kingstree Facebook Page.
Q: Some cite the new hours limiting visits to the recycle center. The reason behind the cut in days of operation was to save money in an effort to correct the county’s deficient. Have you seen a difference and if so, is there a possibility the hours could be changed?
A: Every year the hours change. This is not the first time that the hours have changed. It happens every daylight savings season. This is the first time the days actually changed. Do I see a difference? I see a difference in terms of us being able to get the trash cleaned up from the sites a little bit more efficiently because we’re not open every single day, six days a week receiving trash. It puts less wear and tear on our vehicles...Our old compactors that really need to be replaced, it helps with giving them a break so that when we do have an issue and one is broken we have a day to go in there and try to have it repaired, verses it running six days a week.
We set the days a week, but they’re open to change depending upon the citizens’ needs.
Q: Some of our viewers asked why you can’t catch the litterer by following a paper trail (mail) or track the serial number on a household item?
A: You may be able to attempt to find out who had it but you may come to find out the refrigerator was purchased in Oregon but ends up in South Carolina so obviously it may not be who the original owner in possession of it. Our databases are not used to track products such as a stove or a refrigerator unless those items are stolen and we’ve entered it into the system.
In the court system you have to have certain variables in your case to prosecute. Just because you find certain things that may be present (trash bag on the road may have fallen off a trash truck) that allows you to move forward with doing some type of prosecution or doing something, doesn’t necessarily mean you can make a charge.
Q: Is there a way to report someone seen littering?
A: Supervisor - We do not have a hotline established.
A: Sheriff - There are a couple of ways you can report littering. You can call the communications center for Highway Patrol or any law enforcement agency and report what you’ve seen. Palmetto Pride allows you to do that online and it has a phone number as well.
Q: What are the fines for littering?
A: It can range from $1,000 on up.
Q: Some viewers point to lazy citizens who prefer to discard trash instead of taking it to the recycle center. What can be done to educate them?
A: Supervisor - If someone really just don’t want to put their trash away and they feel it’s easier to toss it out, they’re going to do it. There’s nothing you can do to prevent them from doing that. Once they make up their mind to do something they’re going to do it.
A: Sheriff - I think we can spend our resources to educate the people about the importance about not littering, but I think the biggest thing is people starting to hold other people accountable...Crime and trash go hand in hand. The more I make my neighborhood looked trashed, the higher the crime rate usually is. The more that we together are held responsible or work on the responsibility of keeping our communities clean and making sure we keep up with what’s going on in our communities, the crime rate usually goes down.
Q: Does the county have a sanitation/trash pickup drew?
A: We’re trying to work on doing it on Fridays when the workload is a little bit less for Public Works. We’re also working on developing the L-CAT team (Litter Control Action Team), which would help with more continuous efforts picking up trash rather than it being a hit, and miss.
Q: A viewer suggested placing recycle bins near these dumping site.
A: Supervisor - I remember several years ago, Mr. Treme had these humongous dumpsters. All it did was create more of a mess. I don’t think that would be a good idea to do something like that. There are 20 recycling sites. They are strategically placed in communities in Williamsburg County. Some of them are within a three to five mile radius of one another.
A: Sheriff - I think it wouldn’t be efficient, if you’ve got a recycling center in your community, now you’re setting up another one. Now you’ve just created another facility to send a truck to pick up the trash. The whole idea is to stop people from dumping in that place. I get it. To clean it up we have to carry a bin in there and so why not put one in there but when you look at the other side of it you have to look at the bigger picture; do you want to create two miles down the road from the recycle center another dump area to dump in? I would say no.
Q: Is it financially feasible to install security systems in these areas most affected? Where will the fundings come from? Will the litterer just move to another location?
A: Supervisor - We are pursuing a grant through Palmetto Pride to help with enforcement concerns.
A: Sheriff - Cameras really can help us. The upfront cost of getting cameras we need would be expensive. We don’t have to pay for any benefits for cameras but they will allow us to watch what’s going on and to have something about what happen verses trying to figure out - in order for us to solve these crimes we have to have community involvement.
Citizens or groups that pick up trash and are unable to take the bags to the recycle center can call Public Works at (843) 355-8900.