BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer
St. Landry Parish council members were told on Wednesday night that authorities are beginning to prosecute and issue stiff fines for those accused of parishwide littering.
Parish landfill executive director Richard Lebouef revealed during a regular Council meeting that there are currently five litter-related cases scheduled to be prosecuted on the state district court docket, while maximum fines as high as $5,000 and perhaps jail time could be assessed if suspects receive sentences.
“I think the District Attorney now has hired someone to do prosecutions for trash dumping and the DA’s Office is determined to make (prosecutions) stick,” Lebouef said.
The Council had previously discussed trash visibility earlier this month when parish resident David Beaugh asked during a committee meeting if anyone on the Council knew who is responsible for collecting trash in St. Landry.
Beaugh said he is particularly concerned about the amount of small roadside trash.
Lebouef also reminded the Council at the Jan. 3 meeting that a parish litter ordinance remains effective and that parish detectives have been actively issuing citations to those suspected of littering.
‘Roadside Furniture Store‘
Council members Timothy LeJeune and Wayne Ardoin both complained about large household items that are being dumped on major parish roadways.
“You could open up a furniture store with some of the items that you see now along the road. I’m seeing a lot of furniture and large waste needing to be picked up. I think a lot of people don’t know that items can be picked up at their driveways,” LeJeune said.
Ardoin said he called in for a Solid Waste Commission pick up recently.
“There was a refrigerator left on (Highway) 190, with all of the contents inside. There was also a sofa that was on the I-49 median recently. This just doesn’t look good when you have people from all over traveling through the parish,” said Ardoin.
Can The Commission Do More?
Ardoin also told Lebouef that perhaps the Commission could do more with regards to collecting parish trash.
“I know that (the Commission) bank account is fat. Maybe (the Commission) could look into putting dumpsters into other areas of the parish, so they would not have to drive to Beggs,” Ardoin said.
Ardoin said Evangeline Parish has a similar system, where land has been made available in different areas for trash dumping.
Lebouef said, however, that the parish landfill is regulated tightly by DEQ and that possibly some residents might dump hazardous materials at additional dumping sites.
Lebouef said the Commission pays the Sheriff’s Department for litter abatement teams manned by inmate trustees, while residents can bring unwanted items to deposit at the Beggs landfill or call for grappler truck roadside little pick up.
“We Are The Problem”
Ultimately several council members called out their constituents as the reason for the amount of parishwide trash.
“We all need to take ownership. I believe that years ago, we had neighborhood watches. Maybe we can start having citizen watch (for litter abatement),” said council member Ken Marks.
Council members Mildred Thierry and Nancy Carriere additionally admitted on Wednesday night that all residents have a responsibility for addressing parish littering.
Thierry however said parish residents also have easy paths for alleviating litter issues, but people are not taking advantage of the opportunities.
“All you have to do is call (the Solid Waste Commission) and schedule a pickup,” Thierry said.