Trash situation irks residents

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

Linda Giddings, who lives west of Portales, is frustrated with blowing trash, not to mention illegal dumping, in that area.

She is circulating a petition asking for a county ordinance to prohibit people from allowing trash, tumbleweeds and other debris to collect on their property where the waste can blow onto neighboring property.

She plans to present the petition at the March 17 Roosevelt County Commission.

“We just want a law to protect the value of our homes, and we think we have a right to live in a clean environment,” Giddings said.

Giddings said some homeowners in the area where she lives keep their property clean, while others stack bags of trash outside where animals get into them or allow abandoned mobile homes to become nesting places for rodents and other animals. She said loose tin is a danger in windy weather, and trash, tumbleweeds and ruins of wooden buildings are fire hazards.

“We’re getting covered up in trash, household trash,” Giddings said.

The problem has grown in the last five or six years with the population increase west of Portales, she said.

Giddings wants landowners to mow unused fields to keep tumbleweeds from blowing. She said she sometimes can’t get out of her door or to her animals because of piles of tumbleweeds.

She said illegal dumping is also a problem.

Roosevelt County Chief Deputy Malin Parker said deputies regularly cite people for blowing trash and illegal dumping under the state littering and public nuisance laws. They also issue citations under the hazardous waste law for dumping dead animals.

“We have to have proof of it, just like any other crime,” Parker said.

Deputies use identification markers such as ear tags, brands and tatoos to determine who owned dead animals, he said. For other trash, they may look for something with a name or address, or investigate whether they can see the refuse blowing from the suspect’s property to the victim’s.

If deputies find that evidence, Parker said, they can issue citations.

Parkers said the ordinance Giddings is proposing would be beneficial, but the sheriff’s office will support whatever the commission decides.

James Kratzer, who lives on U.S. 70 south of Portales, complained of a makeshift dump his wife discovered near their property line on adjacent land, and of his neighbor’s trash blowing into his yard.

“I don’t want regulations any more than the next guy,” he said.

However, Kratzer continued, he sees the results of going without rules, and the trash is spoiling the beauty of the Old West.

County Manager Charlene Hardin said the county covers dumping fees for residents to take their trash to the city of Portales Convenience Center at 1230 N. Avon, behind Portales Select Peanut Co. Hardin said the county pays the city $3,000 to $6,000 a month to handle the trash without out-of-pocket expense to county residents.

County personnel move trash when they can’t blade a road or clean a bar ditch, and they have picked up really dirty areas, Hardin said. Otherwise, the county doesn’t have the manpower to clean up litter.