Commission hears comments on littering

NEW CUMBERLAND — A resident who has urged residents throughout the county to prevent littering at several Hancock County Commission meetings, questioned the commission and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department about the littering problem.

During the April 5 meeting, New Cumberland resident Ian Wilson discussed his concerns with littering — as he has done at many such meetings the past 14 months. In past meetings, Wilson suggested putting up signs to help stop littering from taking place, noting the county is a nice place to reside, but on Thursday he said he is “disgusted.”

Gov. Jim Justice, Wilson stated, recently signed a bill increasing fines for littering throughout the state, which now ranges $100 to $2,500 on land and $500 to $3,000 on water for up to 100 pounds. Between 100 pounds and 500 pounds, the fine on land is $2,500 to $5,000, and on water up to $5,500; and more than 500 pounds, the fine is as high as $25,000.

In Mercer County (which includes Bluefield and Princeton), Wilson said six citations were written to which the county received $6,091.50 in fines.

However, Wilson said he had never seen anyone from Hancock County picking up garbage, and suggested county officials should have inmates from the county jail spend time picking up garbage.

“I would really like you guys to look into doing that,” Wilson said. “Get a van and get some guys up here, get them out of jail. I’m sure they’d love to get out of jail, come up here and help pick up our county some. Get a work program, convicts, put them to work.”

Wilson asked Commissioner Joe Barnabei, who served on the county school board for 10 years, if the trash seen around Hancock County is partially the school’s responsibility.

Before Barnabei could provide an answer, Commissioner Jeff Davis interrupted and advised Wilson it would be better to address this question at the school board meetings and it had nothing to do with the commission. Wilson disagreed with that assessment, saying it’s his belief the schools were partially responsible.

Wilson also discussed the prevention resource officers that will be used in the county schools starting with the 2018-19 school year, and said he would urge the commission, the sheriff’s department and the school board to have the officers keep an eye on litterbugs and issue citations to them.

“It’s a very sad thing that that has to happen, but I think that it also could be a wonderful opportunity,” Wilson said. “I’m going to ask our sheriff, our school board and our county commission that these guys and gals, the new resource officers, look out for litterbugs at the schools. Nip it in the bud before they grow up to be large slobs.

“Can you imagine a few of these officers write up two or three tickets in a week or a month, how fast word would spread around the schools and in their neighborhood not to litter?”

Wilson turned his attention to Sheriff Ralph Fletcher, asking how many citations the his office has handed out for littering — a question he has asked at several meetings, each without receiving a response. This time, Fletcher answered “Zero,” which Wilson responded “That should stop.”

Fletcher then asked Wilson if he had seen anyone throw anything out the windows of their vehicles or if Wilson had only seen the “after affects.” Wilson stated he had seen the “after affects.” This prompted the sheriff to tell Wilson he can file a complaint with the magistrate’s office.

“You have a right, if you see a car throw litter out, you have a right to take down that information and then go down to a magistrate and file a complaint or a misdemeanor,” Fletcher said.