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Wed, June 26

Cactus Cleaners demand more help from county

Dolan Springs Cactus Cleaners at work. (Photo courtesy William Terwilliger)

Dolan Springs Cactus Cleaners at work. (Photo courtesy William Terwilliger)

KINGMAN – Golden Valley Cactus Cleaners, a volunteer group that cleans up the desert of waste from illegal damping, is growing frustrated with Mohave County and its supervisors. The Cleaners feel it doesn’t have enough support from the county, both financially and by neglecting to collect taxes from abandoned properties, which often become sites for illegal trash dumping.

The group was started, with the county’s blessing, in 2014 by Wayne Hollins. Soon, it inspired other groups, Kingman Cactus Cleaners formed by Paul Ming and Jeanne Kroutil, and Dolan Springs Cactus Cleaners by William Terwilliger. All three initiatives are active on Facebook and have managed to collect tens of thousands of pounds of trash, tires, boats, vehicles and hot tubs from the deserts around Golden Valley, Kingman and Dolan Springs.

A few members of the group showed up at Monday’s Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting, talking about county support being “unjustly diminished,” and declaring that they will continue to do their job and make an impact with or without the county’s help.

A concerned citizen wrote a letter to the county wondering if county funds were being misused surrounding dump passes and tire manifests for the Cleaners. Mohave County Environmental Rural Area Cleanup Enforcement notified the Cleaners it would not be issuing dump passes and tire manifests to the group for illegal dumping on private lands, only on public, until the matter started by the letter was addressed.

Chairwoman Hildy Angius assured Cactus Cleaners that they still have the county’s support and called the whole situation a misunderstanding. At the same time, it seems that the board ignored the main request the Cleaners had or, at least, it kept its request to itself.

“It is a known fact that the County has neglected to pursue collecting taxes of many abandoned properties, and loses a great deal of revenue due to this fact,” wrote a group member, Mark Schmiedeke, in an open letter to the supervisors. “This neglect costs legitimate taxpayers in increased taxes, encourages squatters on abandoned land, and encourages illegal dumping because the land is not overseen by anyone.”

The letter was not read out loud, as Cactus Cleaners meant it to be, but Schmiedeke posted it on social media, spreading the news while waiting for the county to respond.

“It was nice to get our thoughts and ideas out to the supervisors,” William Terwilliger said. “We will have to wait and see what action they take, if any at all. We will continue in our cleanup efforts regardless of what they do. We may have been slowed down, but we will still get the job done.”

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