GETTING TRASHED - Grantsville Burdened With "Dumping," Residents Issued Criminal Complaints, Some Protest

(03/14/2005)

At least seven county residents have been issued criminal complaints, all misdemeanors, for illegally dumping trash in a Grantsville dumpster located at the CRI building.

Grantsville Mayor Neil Blankenship says the non-paid dumping of trash in Grantsville has become an enormous problem. "It is an expense the town cannot afford," he said. "Some people want a free ride."

Conservation Officer John Apgar responded to a request by Mayor Blankenship to investigate the dumping.

Apgar told the mayor in a published letter: "I have enclosed a list of those persons who have illegally used city dumpsters," although some of those charged claim they are not guilty.

The officer said he spent 96 officer hours investigating the illegal dumping, including "all-night surveillance's, picture taking, and collection of evidence from the dumpster."

Pleasant Hill resident Ralph Cunningham, who is among those being charged, said "Boxes from my business were sent to CRI for a food drive, but they somehow got filled with trash. Then I got charged."

"I didn't know about my 'wrongdoing' until I read my name on the Magistrate's Report," he said. "If he (Apgar) would have asked me, I certainly would have given him an explanation." Apgar did go to Cunningham's house to confirm the type of boxes.

Cunningham said "Mr. Apgar publishing a letter giving 'a list of those persons who have illegally used city dumpsters' indicates he is the investigator, arresting officer and judge."

"I guess that's what happens when assumptions are made," said Cunningham. "To say the least, this is very upsetting."

The illegal trash problem has reportedly worsened since the Town of Grantsville decided not to accept trash from outside the town limits. County residents could previously use the town's garbage service by purchasing tags for bags of trash.

Mayor Blankenship says besides trying to pay for the excess garbage at the Wood County landfill, he has been questioned by Waste Management, the trash company that serves the county, wanting to know why county residents are using the town's trash service. "They (Waste Management) have done audits on us (the town)," said the mayor.

"We're dumping a huge amount of trash compared to the number of town residents." Blankenship said.

The closing of access to the dumpsters or securing them by locking is apparently an option not used by businesses or groups using the town dumpsters.

Cunningham and the other individuals are expected to appear before a Calhoun magistrate on March 23.

Those being issued criminal complaints, according to the Magistrate's Report:

Lennette Headley, littering, 2/12/05, by DNR

April Dawn Drake, littering, 2/02/05, by DNR

Ralph Cunningham, littering, 2/12/05, by DNR

Nichole M. Yanero, littering, 2/19/05, by DNR

John F. Schneider, littering, 1/07/05 and 1/31/05, by DNR

Norma J. Freshour, littering, 2/07/05, by DNR

Shirley VanHoose, littering, 2/07/05 and 2/13/05, by DNR


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