Recently the newspapers in our County ran an editorial from a local citizen regarding the litter problem in Estill County. The general idea being that the county officials take little or no action to control the litter problem in the county. I had an opportunity to speak to this lady and discuss her concerns and she asked that I write an article expressing support for litter control in the county. I agreed, but explained to her that perhaps she did not have all of her facts correct and attempted to explain to her the efforts the county makes to control littler and waste.
First, I explained to her that indeed the county expends a great deal of money conducting litter pickup. In addition to the money already in the budget consisting of approximately $27,000.00, the county received a grant in the amount of $23,730.00 that is used to pay private groups to do litter abatement. All of the gloves, safety vests and trash bags are paid for and the county provides an employee to pick up the filled garbage bags and transport them to the landfill. Finally, the county employs a solid waste coordinator who works with citizens that make complaints and works with litter abatement groups. To say that the county makes no effort in regard to the litter problem shows some ignorance of the facts and I hope this article helps illustrate the efforts that are made.
Second, Ms. Napier stated that elected officials need to be stakeholders in the community. Again, I explained to her that I believed all the elected officials I work with are committed to the community and that indeed everyone, not just elected officials, needed to be stakeholders in this issue. I explained to her that many business owners and citizens own properties in the county that they want to have represented in a positive light. How do we do this? Unless we have a general community consensus that litter is a problem and everyone agrees to engage the problem we cannot succeed. As such, I believe we need to educate people that litter is not appropriate and that it takes a significant financial toll on the county. Report littering to law enforcement agencies. Littering is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine or both. (KRS 512.070 & 433.753). If you see someone littering and can identify them then report them to law enforcement. It is important to note that Ms. Napier was also mistaken in her statement that the fiscal court should impose fines for littering. The fiscal court does not impose fines in criminal cases; those matters are prosecuted in the criminal court division of district court. We have very few litter cases. I can only think of a few since I have been in office. I am willing to prosecute these cases if they are brought to court and the person responsible can be accurately identified.
Finally, I completely agree that all of the current elected officials or candidates for office should be engaged by the voters on the issues. Ask them their position on all the issues, but be informed when you ask them their position so that when the time comes you can hold them accountable for what they tell you. It is important to understand that the Jailer is the only person that can permit the prisoners to do work release. The judges,prosecutors, magistrates or judge executive cannot force the jailer to engage in prisoner work release. While I understand that there may have been problems in the past with work release, I would hope that as a county government that we could work together to solve this problem. If we try it and it fails that is better than not trying at all. We should not engage in a blame game, let’s make it a positive process and create a work release protocol that will work for everyone. We should keep in mind that the jailer also has limited resources with which to run his facility and our protocol needs to accommodate his needs.
Let’s work together to solve the problem by becoming and staying informed on how the process works and how we as citizens can become engaged in the process. Encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for the appearance of the community and this problem will take care of itself over time.