New litter officer on the lookout for code violators

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

Patience and hard work will surely pay off in the end for the beautification of Carter County and for the job of the Health and Safety Enforcement Officer, Craig Malone.
   Malone began his new job about three weeks ago to help clean up the county according to the litter control resolution that was passed by the County Commission in March. Although the job is progressing slowly, evidence of enforcement can be seen.
   Malone has investigated property in Long Hollow, Stoney Creek, Roan Mountain, Dennis Cove, among other locations in the county. During these investigations, he has found old cars, school buses, broken trailers, loads of trash and basically anything that could promote infestation of rats or other hazardous animals.
   Malone said he recently took pictures of a yard where he was scared of stepping on snakes because the weeds were so high that he couldn't see the ground.
   According to the resolution, it is the owner's responsibility to maintain property "so as not to endanger the health, safety or welfare of county residents." A certified letter will be sent to anyone who is not in compliance with the litter law, stating that the property must be cleaned up in 30 days.
   Malone said he is willing to work with violators as long as they are showing progress of cleaning up and will issue them a time extension. If the owner still fails to comply, the case will be sent to Chancery Court where it could be subject to a $500 fine per violation.
   Since enforcement of the new litter legislation began, Malone has accumulated about 30 cases in his files under investigation. The majority of the cases are being solved with cooperation by the violator. However, some have refused to allow Malone on their land and believe that the county has no right to enforce the law.
   Malone is trying to improve the appearance of the county; however, since the resolution just took effect in March, he is scouring higher traffic areas first. "It (clean up) is slow getting started, but it is something we can achieve. It will become an easier process, especially if they would clean it up on their own," said Malone.
   Malone hopes residents will tidy up the property before anyone notices the problem and reports it. Because once that certified letter is delivered, Malone said he will not drop the case until the land is in compliance.