MOULTON — Lawrence County's push to prevent messy community dumpster sites led to the arrest of at least two people over the weekend who were charged with criminal littering.
“We caught two dumpster divers in a dumpster at East Lawrence’s Veterans Park Saturday after the storm,” Sheriff Max Sanders said.
The County Commission passed a resolution Friday urging the Sheriff’s Office to have stricter enforcement of the county’s litter laws, including the rules posted on the 11 roll-off dumpsters at the 10 community dumpster sites across the county.
The two arrests came at the often-abused Caddo dump site when a sheriff's deputy, driving an unmarked vehicle, found a male and female inside the dumpster. “Our deputy made the two put the trash back into the dumpster before ticketing them,” Sanders said.
Interim Solid Waste Director and District 3 Commissioner Kyle Pankey said he was pleased to learn that the Sheriff’s Office made the arrests. Sanders said he could not recall the last time the county made an arrest related to littering.
“This will send out a firm message to the violators and go a long way to deterring the problem,” Pankey said.
The free dumpster service costs the Solid Waste Department about $300,000 annually. He said adding pickup days for the dumpsters would require more trucks and manpower and could easily surpass $500,000 a year for the free service.
“We can’t keep spending money on this program,” Pankey said last week.
District 5 Commissioner Joey Hargrove, who wants the county to end the program because of the constant eyesore and hazard at Veterans Park, lauded the sheriff’s office for their quick action following Friday’s vote.
“I’m glad the sheriff and his deputies are driving by and checking out the dumpster sites,” Hargrove said. “This is what is needed. I believe (once) the word of fine after fine after fine gets out, it should make people quit abusing the sites. It would make me quit.”
Last week, Hargrove told fellow commissioners the parents of children playing at Veterans Park and park board members have had to pick up trash and even medical needles on the ballfields.
In Morgan County, sheriff's spokesman Mike Swafford said, department records show no arrests have been made in the past two years for criminal littering.
"We use jail trusties on the roadside of major thoroughfares and hot spots" (for cleanup), he said.
According to Alabama Code Section 13A-7-29, criminal littering is a Class C misdemeanor and carries of a fine of $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second offense.
“We want to let people know we’ll be checking the dumpster sites routinely,” Sanders added.