County cracking down on illegal trash dumping￼
By Kyle Mooty
Anyone caught dumping trash illegally in Caldwell County will be held accountable, it was noted Friday morning at Commissioners Court, and statistics were read to prove as much.
Neil Kucera, Caldwell County Assistant District Attorney, said the team handling illegal dumping cases has so far investigated 86 cases, 30 of which were still open, and six felony arrests have been made. The January totals alone include 63 cases investigated, 28 of which are still open.
Caldwell County’s Environmental Enforcement Unit is taking charge of the issue.
“We have problems with illegal dumping,” Kocera said. “There are lots and lots of tires, dumping on roadways, and even right by a ‘No Dumping’ sign. There are demolition problems where someone leaves stuff on the side of the road. Every day, our team goes out and sees stuff on the side of the road.
“Not all is nice trash, which I consider dry trash. Some of it is what I call wet trash, such as dirty diapers, rotted meat with maggots. Our team can tell you about some of the surprises they find. They are public nuisances, trash connected to someone’s property. There may be rats or other vectors that can carry diseases. We’ve discovered things in our creeks. Sewage is a problem. There has been some straight piping done. You can imagine the flies and other vectors attracted to this.”
The domino affect goes all the way to services provided as Kucera noted that such trash can make property values go down, and once property values go down, taxes on the property go down.
“The citizens of Caldwell County deserve to have the city preserved,” Kucera said. “We try to respond not just the same day but the same hour.”
Kucera said numerous cameras were now available to Caldwell County to use in catching the perpetrators, and that the team has caught individuals in the act.
Alberta Luna, who heads the unit, said people from outlying counties have come to Caldwell County to dump trash.
Luna added, “There are resources out there for people to properly dispose of items.”
Caldwell County will hold four trash collection events, one for tires only that will be in conjunction with Hays County.
In other business:
Hector Rangel, Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at Caldwell County, asked the court to install a 30-day burn ban for Caldwell County, but was given 14 days prohibiting burning and it will be revisited at that point.
“There have been several major fires the last couple of weeks,” Rangel said. “The ground is good and moist, but the grass is very dry. We are expecting rain (this week). Fire with wind took 22 acres in Martindale.”
Commissioner J.B. Westmoreland warned that almost anything can cause a fire.
Caldwell County Election Administrator Kimber Daniel said the early voting has been successful with 819 so far, including 579 at the Scott Annex facility and 34 at one of the new Pop-Up sites in Delhi.
“We feel like that’s a really good turnout,” Daniel said. “Of the 490 absentee ballots that have been mailed in, there were 50 with errors, and my staff is going to homes to get the people to do ‘em right. The legislature has said we can do that. We only have six left now that are wrong.”
Early voting ends Feb. 25.
The McMahan Community Center will host a chili supper on Feb. 27 to raise money for its building.