By John L. Ross, Staff Writer
Parades can bring to mind huge celebrations, handcrafted floats, smartly dressed band members and an occasional clown or two.
But the “parade” which wound its way through the back roads of Whitley County last week had nothing to do with celebrating.
Parade participants all had one thing in mind — how and with what are we going to clean these dump sites and how much cash is this going to take?
Leading the “parade” was Solid Waste Director Danny Moses and County Projects Director Amber Owens.
Owens explained Whitley County recently was awarded grant monies to clean up five trash dump sites.
Those monies will then be awarded to the lowest bid.
Owens said the one requirement for potential bidders was attendance at last week’s meeting and dump review.
So Thursday, 11 contractors gathered along the U.S. 25W in Williamsburg and began the three-and-a-half hour “parade.”
“Many of these guys are regular bidders,” Owens said. “But there are some new ones this year.”
The first stop along the journey was not too far past the city. One by one, contractors pulled into the gravel road next to the overgrown site.
“This site is the most hidden one,” Owens said. “It’s really overgrown and there’s a lot of brush.”
Little can be seen from the sides of the dump, which is largely hillside. Contractors walked along the perimeter, scanning to see what was hidden among the weeds.
“These guys will have to come back on their own to look at the sites more closely,” Owens said. “Today we’re just getting them familiar with the site locations.”
She said the plan was to spend about 15-20 minutes at each site for potential contractors to get a first-hand view of the messes.
“This site is very hard to see,” she said. “It has been here quite a while — whoever cleans this one is going to have to dig through it.”
The group marched on to the next site, this time with a little dip into Jellico, Tenn., to come back into Whitley County on Kenny Bug Road.
Fresh waste was found at this site, which also includes a couple of boats, a smattering of household trash, and several rocks and tires. Owens said the rocks also must be removed, as they were not part of the natural landscape of the site.
Owens said when she and Moses took a fresh look at the sites earlier this month, they got a surprise at the Kenny Bug Road dump site.
“We found a new dump behind it,” Owens said. “That site will have to be bid (to clean up) next year.”
There is one structure on the property, however, Owens said it nor anything inside it can be touched. She said that is not part of the dump removal process.
A small stream also flows by this dump. Contractors hiked all through the site, making calculations and decisions on cleanup techniques.
But it was time to head to the next site.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Moses told the potential contractors.
And they hadn’t. The third dump site on the “parade” route was the infamous “Ramsey Dump.”
That dump site is located at the end of Hwy. 2998, known as Porter Road, off KY 1804 south of Fairview. It is pretty close to the Tennessee border and can be seen from I-75.
According to Owens, the state finally gave up pursuing any litigation against the property owners, who used to operate a scrapyard there.
Originally, that site wasn’t going to be included in the grant application, although it has plagued the county for several years.
However, that site did make it to the bidding process — and when contractors arrived they saw what Moses meant.
After riding up the badly-maintained roadway to the site, contractors saw yet another boat, hundreds of tires, piles of household trash and furnishings, car and truck parts, and a host of unknown materials.
“I’m going to advise you all to come back and look at this,” Owens told the potential bidders. The Ramsey Dump is spread over a large area and in some cases has been partially buried under the soil.
“It’s going to have to have an excavator, some Bobcats — there’s a lot here,” said Raleigh Meadors, one of the bidders. “It’s hard to believe people do this stuff.”
He said this was his fourth time bidding for work in Whitley County.
“I’m glad we’re (going to) get in there when it’s not overgrown,” Meadors said. “Or when there’s snakes — it’ll be a good time of year to clean these up.”
The next dump to review is near Bon on KY 2792. This is a smaller dump, however it is still unsightly. While en route to that site, Owens said she and Moses uncovered yet another dump very close to this one along the same road.
“That’s another one we’ll add to the list,” Owens said.
Most of the trash at that site is on surface level. Bidders required little time there, and gathered to head on to the next point of interest — this one the old hospital site in Corbin.
“Most people don’t even know this one is here,” Owens said to the bidders. “It’s been here so long there’s moss growing on the tires.”
Tim Helton, who owns Helton Construction, said this was his first time bidding in Whitley County.
“I’ve done this work before,” Helton said. “I’ve done a lot of mine jobs and dump sites.”
From the Bell and Leslie county area, Helton said the current economy has him spreading out for work.
“In these tough times you go where the work is at,” he said.
He noticed there were many tires at the old Corbin Hospital dump site.
“There’s always more than meets the eye in these dumps,” Helton said.
Owens said now that the bidders have seen the sites on the grant list, potential contractors have until 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, to get their bids turned in.
“It is up to the contractors to go out and go back to get what information they need to do their estimates,” Owens said.
She said the solid waste ordinance currently in effect in the county was enacted in 1988, and that both dumping and littering were part of that ordinance.
She said littering fines can range up to $500. Dumping fines are the same, with added court costs and the perpetrator could be made to clean up the site, or pay to have it cleaned.
“If you’re found guilty of starting an illegal landfill, it’s considered a felony,” Owens said. “Those fines can range up to $5,000 and cleanup costs.”
Catching those doing the dumping is often difficult.
“There are always ongoing investigations,” Owens said. “You can be taken to court over it.”
They’ve even brought in electronic security, including cameras.
“In cases where we find dumping occurring in the same places, we’ll put up cameras to catch them,” Owens said.
This year’s dump cleanup process has moved along much earlier than last year — in 2012 Owens said they didn’t get out to the sites until nearly the summer. That makes it harder to clean these sites, and ultimately requires more money.
Potential contractors have their choice when it comes to bidding — they can bid on all of the sites, or just one, or a combination of any of them, according to Owens.