EAST MONTGOMERY COUNTY – According to recently released data from the US Census Bureau’s Population Division, Montgomery County is among the top 30 fastest growing counties in the United States, with an estimated 52.4 percent increase in population between the years 2000 and 2009. East Montgomery County’s growth promises to escalate rapidly in the coming years with the addition of the EarthQuest Dinosaur Park and Museum. Unfortunately, with positive growth come some negatives, such as increases in littering and in illegal private and commercial dumping.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart would like to remind residents that illegal dumping costs everyone and could result in fines and jail time. Illegally dumped heavy trash is a major issue in East Montgomery County, addressed by Commissioner Rinehart’s office on a daily basis. Work crews supervised by Tommy Tobias and Deputy Rocky Woodrick consistently collect large loads of everything from washers and dryers to hot tubs, furniture, lawn mowers, and even vehicles.

“It’s expensive to deal with trash,” Commissioner Rinehart said. “Supervisor salaries alone total over $150,000 per year, plus vans, workers, fuel, four Gradalls, track hoes, and six dump trucks, but you have to consider how our roads would look without them.”

2010 marks the 11th year of Commissioner Rinehart and his crews trying to keep the east side of Montgomery County clean, removing everything from boats and motorcycles, cars, four-wheelers, bicycles, playground equipment, hot tubs (one of the most commonly illegally dumped items) a huge amount of shingles and drywall, insulation, carpet (especially after Hurricane Ike), barbecue grills, and lawn mowers. Some think dumping old tires on the roadside is a victimless crime, but disposal of standard vehicle tires cost $2.50 to $3.50 per tire, and some large tractor tires cost $6 for disposal and must be transported to a recycling facility in Baytown that has seen far too many illegally discarded tires from Montgomery County.

“People would be amazed to see how much trash is removed from the over 800 miles of road in Precinct 4,” he said.

Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden’s deputies also deal with illegal dumping regularly, taking reports from the Commissioner’s office and from citizens, and then conducting investigations on everything from household garbage to abandoned vehicles and major appliances. In many cases, Precinct 4 investigators, particularly Lt. Mark Seals, can identify the responsible party or parties and hold them accountable, forcing them to clean up their illegal dumpsites, pay fines and even go to jail depending upon the weight of the trash. So far this year, the Constable’s Office followed up on at least 15 cases, issuing citations and prosecuting one felony case.*

Commissioner Rinehart realizes with the current economy, some area residents are unable to afford proper disposal of large items, so his office offers a large scale solution in the spring and fall known as “Heavy Trash” days.

Tracy Stilley and Bill Smith supervise Precinct 4’s bi-annual Heavy Trash Day operation, which requires ten 40-yard dumpsters and one compacter truck per each of four convenient locations, including the Precinct. 4 County Barn, Splendora Community Center, Security Community Center and Forest Hill Subdivision Fire Department. Each location has an average of two 30 yard dumpsters. Pickup is provided for senior citizens and disabled residents unable to transport their own trash. Heavy trash includes anything except tires, batteries and computers. On Heavy Trash Days, Precinct 3 provides a mobile unit at the Precinct 4 county barn to accept old paint, chemicals, etc. for a nominal fee.

The last Heavy Trash Day was in May and another will be scheduled in October when Waste Management can spare enough dumpsters. They accept a certain number of tons as “in kind donation,” and waves a lot of dump fees. Waste Management charges an estimated cost $30,000 per year for cleaning, labor and equipment and removal.

Precinct 4 residents can report illegal dumping by calling 281-577-8919.

* Penalties for illegal dumping in Texas
From Section 365.012 (d) – (g) Texas Health and Safety Code

Non-Commercial Dumping
(a) 5 pounds or less; Class C Misdemeanor
5 gallons or less
(b) 5 pounds but under 500 pounds; Class B Misdemeanor
5 gallons but under 100 c.f.
(c) 500 pounds but under 1,000 pounds; Class A Misdemeanor
100 cubic feet but under 200 c.f.
(d) Over 1,000 pounds; State Jail Felony
Over 200 cubic feet

Commercial Dumping
(a) 5 pounds or less; Class C Misdemeanor
5 gallons or less
(b) 5 pounds but under 200 pounds; Class A Misdemeanor
5 gallons but under 200 c.f.
(c) Over 200 pounds; State Jail Felony
Over 200 cubic feet

Dumped for Any Reason (Commercial or Non-Commercial)
(a) Any amount of waste in a State Jail Felony
closed drum or barrel

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