EHDA vexed by illegal dumping

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  The illegal dumping of trash into commercial garbage containers belonging to the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency (EHDA) continues to vex the agency's maintenance workers and executive director.
  EHDA Executive Director Kelly Geagley said residents frequently competed with non-residents who illegally dump garbage in the agency's trash containers.
  "We think when people have a yard sale and can't get rid of something they dump it up here," said Geagley. "When our residents want to throw something out, the dumpsters are full."
  Items including bagged trash as well as unwanted household items and even used furniture are dumped in containers that are clearly marked EHDA resident use only. The dumping of trash in privately owned garbage containers constitutes the misdemeanor criminal offense of theft of services.
  The additional dumping means a hit to the agency's financial bottom line. Geagley said the agency maintained 22 bulk container dumpsters around the South Hills Estates and Walnut/Hemlock Manor residential areas. The city of Elizabethton collects trash from each dumpster twice a week. The EHDA pays the city a disposal fee of $20 per dumpster for each load taken. Pickups became more frequent and more costly when the dumpsters overflowed with debris from outside sources.
  Elizabethton Chief of Police Roger Deal said Officer Jesus Pena, who is assigned to the EHDA, had filed charges against individuals for theft of services when they were observed throwing out items and found not to be agency residents. Police said at least three people have been cited into General Sessions Court and convicted on theft of services charges.
  Deputy Chief of Police Larry Shell said the officers also received complaints about private dumpsters being filled with trash from outside sources in the downtown area. "We do try to watch the dumpsters around the city for unlawful use," said Shell.
  Geagley said EHDA also contended with individuals dumping brush and trash near an agency-designated garbage container site in the Blackbottom area. He said agency personnel went to the Walnut/Hemlock Manor residential area in Blackbottom almost daily to clean debris left near the disposal site.
  When the agency erected a sign at the site warning people against illegal dumping, the sign was promptly stolen said Geagley.
  "Every day we have to go down there to move something," Geagley said. "Anybody we catch that is not a resident, we want them prosecuted."