Dead animals, construction debris, litter dumped on Pierce County roads, boat ramps and in remote areas

There have been few reports of porch pirates this holiday season, but trash bandits are actively littering and dumping trash along county roads and in communities across Pierce County – and County Manager Jason Rubenbauer is “sick of it.”

“This illegal dumping is ridiculous,” Rubenbauer told The Times last week.

Industrial Development Director Matt Carter echoed Rubenbauer’s frustration.

“Illegal dumping creates a misuse of local tax dollars.  Many times local employees and equipment are used to clean up the debris,” Carter pointed out. “And, trash hinders new recruitment of business and industry into the community. If we are not taking care of our community, how can we expect new business owners to invest in our community?”

County road department employees have picked up multiple loads of trash and litter scattered behind Farr’s Furniture, on Clifford Loop and at the Voight Bridge boat ramp in recent weeks.

A dead goat was dumped on Dixon Road earlier this month and a load of tires was disposed of on Williamson Road and Myles Farm Road.

Catching perpetrators in the act is the only sure way to issue a citation, but that doesn’t happen often.

County crews look for identifying information in the litter they pick up and turn it over to the Sheriff’s Office for further investigation when they find something. The county has also set out cameras at certain areas where dumping is prolific, but those methods aren’t very effective.

“I can put cameras out, but if someone sees a camera, they won’t dump there. They’ll go down the road a little bit and put it somewhere else,” Rubenbauer says. “If we can’t catch somebody in the act, how can we issue citations?”

According to magistrate and state court records, six citations have been issued in the last six months for illegal dumping, but those citations were written by CSX and the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR).

The county manager called on citizens to form a neighborhood watch of sorts, keeping an eye out for people dumping illegally.

“We need the help of the citizens ... if you see somebody, let’s get it reported,” he said.

And, he asked property managers to be more proactive in maintaining rental property countywide.

“I like to have a tidy piece of property. If I had property I was renting out, I’d expect my tenants to do the same because we’ve got to be good neighbors,” Rubenbauer says.

City and county residents can also file a complaint with the code enforcement office regarding unkept or unsightly property. That complaint prompts an investigation.

“We’re more reactive rather than proactive,” said Code Inspector Chris Bond, referencing the complaint filing process.

But, Bond often runs into problems when he cites property owners for items dumped illegally on their land – more often than not, the property owner isn’t the one who dumped the trash.

“That’s a bit of a gray area,” Bond says.

He most recently investigated a pile of scrap lumber dumped on the county line, near Screven. Bond suspects someone tore down an old building and dumped the scraps.