County to hire trash cop

Mohave County is about to hire the trash cop that it promised two and a half years ago.

The county recently created a new position - a coordinator for the Environmental Rural Area Cleanup Enforcement (ERACE) program - to help combat the pervasive trash problem in the county.

"It is exciting for us," Mohave County public works director Mike Hendrix said.

"The person we hire will be responsible for investigation of illegal dump sites, public involvement and educational programs, and trying to acquire additional funding through grants to help combat the trash problem."

The county, which advertised extensively for someone to fill the position, has collected several applications, Hendrix said.

"We are in the process of interviewing applicants," he said.

"If we are successful we could have someone on board by the middle of next month."

On the Mohave County salary schedule the position has a salary range of $34,652 to $53,747.

The ERACE coordinator will work out of the Mohave County Public Works Department but will be assigned to the County Parks Department and will work under the parks administrator.

"It is a pretty good position and a tremendous benefit for Mohave County," Hendrix said.

In April 2000, the Mohave County supervisors approved a $2 surcharge at county landfills.

Since Jan.

1, 2001, the funds derived from this surcharge have been collected for the county by landfill contractors.

County officials said the surcharge would be used to hire a trash enforcement officer and pay for the collection of household hazardous waste materials twice a year.

All customers, including the city of Kingman sanitation department, were charged the additional fee for each ton of solid waste at Cerbat and Mohave Valley landfills.

In April 2001, the additional charge was passed to Kingman residents after the Kingman City Council voted to increase fees from $11 to $11.85 monthly for the twice-weekly pickup of residential trash.

City officials attributed the increase to a combination of factors, including the $2 per ton increase in the landfill dumping fee.

Mohave County has since raised more than $400,000 in tipping fees, which go into the general fund to be used for trash-related purposes.

Mohave County had a volunteer trash cop for a short time.

Walter "Mac" McCarty," a volunteer with the Sheriff's Citizen Action Team, began patrolling the back roads of the county for illegal dump sites in May 2002.

McCarty said he saw "tons of trash" - including burnt mobile homes, appliances, furniture and household trash - on public and private land throughout the county.

McCarty used a Mohave County Sheriff's Office vehicle and camera but had no authority to arrest, or even approach anyone, even if he saw someone dumping trash.

He located and turned in 75 reports of illegal dump sites.

However, after months of cruising county back roads he quit his position because, to his knowledge, the sheriff's office did not follow through and investigate his findings, he said.

"The sheriff's office and the county attorneys really need to start getting tough.

They need to start arresting and prosecuting wildcat dumpers," he added.

"There is trash everywhere."

Hendrix said the county is taking a tough stance on wildcat dumping and illegal littering.

Mohave County - approximately 12,000 square miles, much of it is outside city limits - is full of wildcat dump sites, and government officials say it will take awareness, effort, money, tougher anti-littering laws and the new "trash cop" to combat the problem.

The new ERACE program coordinator will be responsible for developing and implementing a law enforcement program involving investigations, arrests, interagency coordination, and public education.