By Sarah Naron
ELKHART – During a meeting held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Elkhart City Council discussed litter control options which may be available to fulfill the goal of cleaning up the town.
“We’ve got a lot of problems with litter here,” pointed out Councilman Chris Sheridan. “Down toward the nursing home is the worst place I’ve seen, and then, there’s some other places. It makes me want to puke. It’s so disgusting.
“I honestly think we can do better,” he said. “And I understand people need to take account for their own property, but this is right on the roads or right-of-ways and stuff; people that just refuse to go out there and pick it up.”
Councilman Sheridan suggested appointing the cleanup task to community service workers or, in the event that such a solution is not possible, having city employees undertake the duties “a limited amount a time – so many days a week or once a week.
“We’ve got to do something,” he said. “It’s just unacceptable to me.”
According to B.J. Perry, Public Works Supervisor for the City of Elkhart, community service workers can and have been given the task.
“We had one just this last week,” he explained. “But if Ricky Baker comes down here with a slew of them – as well as city workers – we’re only allowed to go in the right-of-ways.”
As Perry pointed out, community service workers or city employees are unable to enter private property to clean up litter.
According to Perry, a large portion of the litter problem stems from animals getting into trashcans throughout the city.
“Whether it be dogs, cats, possums – I caught two foxes getting in trash a few weeks back,” he said. “You know, it’s just one of those things – they get in the trash, they shred it, and then, people just leave it. And then, the storms come along, and it washes it on down, and it’s everywhere.
“It’s a never-ending battle,” he said.
Sheridan inquired about the maximum amount of community service individuals who could be recruited for weekly trash pickup.
“I don’t know about once a week, but we could probably get once a month,” Perry said. “On Saturday, get however many show up. And that’s up to them on who shows up.”
While enlisting the help of inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is a possibility, Perry pointed out that certain steps must be followed by the city.
“For us to incorporate inmates, we have to provide a vehicle. So, we have to rent a van. We have to provide fuel. We have to provide all PPE (personal protective equipment),” he explained. “It just costs way too much to do all that.”
Sheridan suggested designating one Saturday per month to cleaning up the city.
“I can talk to Ricky and see what we can get,” Perry said. “And then, of course, when we do that, one of our guys – whoever’s on call – would most likely have to stay with them until lunchtime and just kind of supervise.”
According to City Secretary Carla Sheridan, some Elkhart residents have already begun to contribute to solving the problem.
“I was going down through the neighborhood the other day on my way home, and I noticed a probably eight-year-old kid out there,” she said. “And he couldn’t hold anymore trash, because he was picking it up as he went along the way. He had a whole handful of it.”
Sheridan also mentioned the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT’s) Adopt-a-Highway program.
“I think that would be a neat thing for the city if we could get enough businesses involved to adopt a street,” she said. “Maybe we could get several people involved and businesses to adopt a street.
“As many people that are genuinely concerned with what the city looks like, I think you would have a multitude of people that would come in and sign up for it,” she added.
Following the discussion, no action was taken by the council.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.