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Editor/Consulting Writer

Photograph: St. Landry Parish road inspector John Guidroz is supervising more emphasis on litter and trash cleanup. (Photograph by Bobby Ardoin.)

The trash that residents think they can secretly stash on obscure roadways seldom evades scrutiny by the St. Landry Parish litter detective.

John Guidroz estimates that he travels 250 miles daily scanning ditches, investigating complaints and observing the three litter abatement details dispatched parishwide by the St. Landry Solid Waste Commission.

Officially Guidroz is employed as the SWC road inspector, working with Sheriff Department trustee workers and crew supervisors sent to collect items that people have discarded and left in ditches, dumpsters and other places where they attempt to avoid detection.

A report reviewed by SWC commissioners during a Monday meeting indicated that litter mitigation is being addressed seriously and extensively now due to an enhanced agreement formed by the Commission, the Sheriff’s Department and the three monitors who oversee parishwide pickups.

“We have created a good system now with more hours. There are three full time crews moving around the parish. The sheriff provides the insurance and the trustees. The Commission does the rest,” Guidroz said.

Guidroz added that the new system increases the litter collection effort to 40 hours weekly where crews are on the roads, responding to complaints.

Two crews are assigned primarily in the largest municipalities – Opelousas and Eunice. Another crew, Guidroz said, covers random areas of the parish, attacking trouble spots that are called in by either residents or Waste Connections personnel in charge of picking up household waste in St. Landry.

Guidroz said fuel cost for the increased assault on parish litter is practically non-existent. 

During his daily investigations Guidroz uses a Commission owned truck powered by compressed natural gas that is emitted by landfill garbage.

The CNG system allows the collection trucks and Guidroz’s vehicle to be filled by methane gas creation at two locations. “I travel a lot of miles, but there is no gasoline cost. That saves the people of this parish a lot of money,” said Guidroz.

The issue of people wantonly throwing unwanted items and trash has been discussed earlier this year at separate Parish Council and Opelousas Board of Aldermen meetings.

Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor created a slide presentation for one 2022 meeting that showed bags of trash thrown indiscriminately in various areas of the city in addition to items that were shown and apparently clogging municipal sewers when residential garbage was flushed down toilets.

Parish president Jessie Bellard has said the parish government often responds to calls requesting assistance with trash pickups. Bellard added that he thinks litter abatement in the parish seems to be improving.

Guidroz said he recently helped investigate a serious trash dumping complaint on La. 752 between Lawtell and Eunice. 

In a separate incident Guidroz said that he has cooperated with Public Works supervisor Barry Soileau to monitor an extensive trash matter on Chris Road, a secluded lane off La. 93 outside Cankton.

Guidroz added that discarded tires often thrown alongside roads continue to be problematic parishwide, but the issue is probably not as serious as it was several years ago.

About 900 tires are collected monthly by littler crews, Guidroz said.