Elected officials combat illegal dumping in West Tennessee

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — Illegal dumping is an all too common problem that many elected leaders say doesn’t just affect our area but many places across West Tennessee. Several city leaders and elected officials are trying to end it.

Madison County Commissioner Larry Sipes says the biggest area for improvement is in southwest Madison County. Places such as County Line Road are littered with trash.

“What I would like to see is people find another way of disposing their waste,” Sipes said. Sipes said he has been fighting illegal dumping in our area for a long time.

“Well there’s a lot of wide open spaces. They feel like no one is going to notice. I know it’s costing the taxpayers money. I was elected to protect tax payers,” Sipes said.

In the past, Sipes with the help of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office have caught people with hidden cameras in the act of dumping things, such as furniture, near Neely Station Road.

Now those areas have been cleaned up for the most part, adding new signs, but Sipes says there is still much more work to be done.

“I want to hear more from my constituents about areas like this. I’ve got nearly 300 miles of road in their district that has to be maintained,” Sipes said. 

Sipes isn’t the only one in the fight. Places in West Tennessee such as Henry County have their own ways of dealing with illegal dumping.

Preserve Paris is an organization that combines various funding and resourcing as well as community involvement to address neighborhood needs.

“You end up seeing a lot more blight and illegal dumping in an older part of town, and that’s probably universal, and here that is what happens. We were looking at a way in which we can stabilize that, maybe reverse the effects,” Paris City Manager Kim Foster said.

Since April 2016, Preserve Paris has hosted four community cleaning days in areas of west Paris on Porter Street. Between 65 and 85 volunteers show up for each cleaning. One of the biggest issues they see is with abandoned homes that end up being a huge mess.

“It’s usually a progression of things,” Foster said. “When a house sits empty for an extended period of time it goes downhill very quickly. And the more it rolls down that hill, the harder it is to get it back up to livable conditions.”

They said each cleanup continues to be a success and they’re looking to have more in the future, hopefully combining efforts with Henry County Recycling as well.

According to Henry County Recycling, in 2016 four illegal roadside dumps were reported that were cleaned up by the highway department.

Organizations like Preserve Paris said it takes an entire city to keep the city clean.

In Madison County, if you’re caught illegally dumping, you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.

If you have any information about illegal dumping, you’re urged to contact the Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 731-423-6000.

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