My friend Kathy Kiddy called me this week to ask, "Am I the only one who is upset that we are greeting our Easter visitors with piles of trash along the highway?"
Kathy lives in Buxton and owns a business on Highway 12 in Frisco called Changing Tide, a place where you can find many neat "re-purposed" items.
She is outraged about the piles of trash along the highway in the village just as Hatteras Island gets ready to welcome back visitors -- Easter is considered the start of the season, a time when many businesses are reopening after a long winter's nap.
She even sent some photos.
Is this any way to greet our Easter visitors?
From what I've seen on social media, she isn't the only one who is unhappy with the trashy situation.
Dare County announced on its website on Tuesday, March 15, that the spring "large item" pickup would begin on Tuesday, April 5, in Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras village and continue on Wednesday with the rest of the island's villages -- Avon, Salvo, Waves, and Rodanthe.
In Frisco, where I live, the trash started hitting the roadside immediately and several especially unsightly piles have been growing for the past 10 days. And we have another 10 days before pickup -- which means we have another 10 days for uncaring, disrespectful members of our community to add their trash to the stacks.
Frisco isn't the only village with a trash problem, but it usually is among the worst when the county has its twice-a-year large item pickup -- not that Frisco residents are necessarily dumping the trash.
It's really nice that Dare County performs this service for its residents and property owners, but it seems that we always have this problem. I've written about it before in this blog.
The rules are clearly spelled out by the county's Sanitation Department:
- On this special pickup, Dare County will collect the following recyclable items: used auto tires, used motor oil (only in spill-proof containers), auto radiators, scrap metals (rims, motor parts), appliances, furniture, and mattresses and box springs. Please remove doors from refrigerators.
- The following items will not be collected: old clothes, shoes, cardboard, etc., tree limbs, stumps, leaves, any yard-clearing debris, construction/demolition materials such as lumber, toilets, windows, doors, etc., any hazardous materials (oil-based paint, pesticides, etc.) Water-based paint can be picked up but must be dried out. All normal household garbage must be disposed of in your black can.
- The county asks that you not place items for the large item pickup at the roadside until the day before your pickup will be held. If the county does not take an item(s) you placed on the roadside, it has been rejected and must be disposed of at your expense.
- And -- although the county doesn't mention it because it's so obvious -- your trash should be placed in front of your property, not your neighbor's.
So everyone knows the rules, and every time, we have jerks who just ignore them and start a trash pile. Apparently, there are plenty of other jerks on the island who are more than willing to join them and add their trash to the pile.
The two really offensive piles in Frisco, as usual, are in front of vacant lots. They are piled with items that the county says specifically that it won't pick up -- toilets, windows, yard debris, old lumber.
Whose stuff is it? No one seems to know.
And the junk will have been there for weeks before it gets picked up.
Of course, some of it won't get picked up because it's not on the list of items that the county will haul away. The county says that if your trash is still there after the pickup, it's your responsibility to dispose of it.
But we know that won't happen. The anonymous jerks who dropped their trash won't come back to get it, and, in the end, the county will end up having to deal with it.
As taxpayers, this ought to really make us angry. These people are costing us money.
Many of us also secretly wish, the Sheriff's Office could stake out the piles, catch the perps, and haul them off to a jail cell in the middle of a landfill somewhere. Dumping is illegal -- a misdemeanor for under 500 pounds and a felony for more.
But, then, this wouldn't be a very productive use of our taxes or our law enforcement officers.
We have a transfer station -- aka dump -- in Buxton where county residents and property owners can take their trash and debris. It's free for 500 pounds -- and that's a lot of trash.
So someone on Facebook asked a really great question.
These petty criminals obviously have the means to haul the trash to someone else's property, so why don't they just haul it to the dump?
Other folks on Facebook are questioning the county's timing on the trash pickup -- at Easter. Of course, if everyone played by the rules, our Easter visitors wouldn't see these trash piles.
Perhaps it's time for someone in the Public Works department to take another look at this issue -- or even end the twice-yearly large item pickup.
The town of Nags Head, for example, does not have large item pickups. Instead, during the off season -- from Oct. 1 until April 30 -- residents can call the Sanitation Department to arrange to have large items and yard debris picked up from the right-of-way in front of their property. The rest of the year, they have to haul it. Or call a private hauler -- and there are plenty of those.
Russ Kiddy, Kathy's husband, is a sanitation equipment operator at the county's transfer station in Buxton. He says he hears complaints from residents every time one of these large item pickups comes around. And, he says, he also gets questions from visitors who are at the station to drop off their recyclables. "Has there been a storm?" he says they ask about the debris.
Obviously, there's not much transfer station employees can do to stop this problem.
You can, however, contact your elected officials -- the Dare County Board of Commissioners. An email to DCBOC@darenc.com will go to all of them.
Meanwhile, Kathy Kiddy sent some photos of better ways to greet our Easter visitors.
And like this: