By John L. Ross
CORBIN — Cleaning up the messes.
That’s what Amber Owens, Whitley County projects director, said that’s what the county is ready to do.
And the state is going to lend a hand.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced approximately $2.1 million in grant funding has been awarded by the Kentucky Pride Fund for cleanup of 172 illegal dumps in 26 counties across the Commonwealth.
Whitley County has five of those dump sites. Owens said they’d like to see all the sites cleaned up.
“A lot of what we’re seeing is old tires and household trash,” she said. “There’s not a lot of scrap metal anymore.”
She said people go to great lengths to get rid of waste. “They go out of their way to find places to dump their trash,” Owens said. “It’s just amazing to me.”
There is no county-wide garbage pick-up service, Owens said, but a dumpster program implemented has helped. “The dump sites are becoming smaller,” she said. “There have been some improvements since the dumpster program started.”
But there are still the five troubled sites, and Owens hopes the grant monies awarded Whitley County will go for most of the dumping grounds.
She said her and Solid Waste Coordinator Danny Moses reviewed the illegal dump sites and found “truckloads of trash” which needs removal. They then apply for grants from the state to clean up the sites.
The monies coming in require a 25 percent county match.
One dump site, which Owens said is “the big one,” has been on the list of requests “for several years but never got funding.”
Owens said she’ll know which sites received funding assistance for clean-up Wednesday.
“The big one,” also known in the county as The Ramsey Dump, is at the end Porter Road, off of KY 1804 south of Fairview. “It’s a big dump at the end of the road,” Owens said.
The second site is listed as 4899 South U.S. Hwy. 25W. The third dump site in the county is a “roadside dump” near the Tennessee border on Kenny Bug Road.
The fourth dump site that troubles the county is on KY 2792 south of Bon. Owens said that is a hillside dump.
The fifth dump problem is at the Old Corbin Hospital site, Owens said. “It’s difficult to find and far over the hill,” she said. “There are more than 150 tires in that one.”
“That one has been there for a while,” Owens continued. “There’s moss growing on the stuff there.”
She said some of the illegal dump sites have been there for years. “Some of them have been there a long time,” she said. “Most of the people who live near those areas don’t even know they’re there.”
Owens said once the funding comes in, she hopes work will begin. “We’d like to see the projects get started before the new leaves come in,” Owens said. “It’s easier to get it if you can see it.”
Owens said the dump site projects will be bid out, as a normal county job. “We are going to have a pre-bid meeting to let people know what’s needed,” Owens said. “All who want to bid on these projects need to be there.”
Gov. Beshear said illegal dump sites pose a safety hazard in communities across Kentucky. “Cleaning up dump sites is an economic burden on our local governments,” he said. “These grants offer local communities funding relief to their tight budgets.”
The 25 percent match is required when it costs less than $50,000 to clean up an illegal dump site. The Energy and Environment Cabinet may waive the 25 percent match dump site which would cost more than $50,000 to clean up.
The Division of Waste Management administers the Kentucky Pride Fund to clean up illegal dump sites. Funding for the program comes from a $1.75 environmental remediation fee for each ton of garbage disposed of at Kentucky municipal solid waste disposal facilities. This “tipping fee,” authorized by the 2002 General Assembly under House Bill 174, is collected quarterly and placed in the Kentucky Pride Fund.