ARCADIA — In three weeks, DeSoto County employees collected enough roadside trash from illegal dumping to equal the weight of an average blue whale — the largest mammal on Earth.
Blue whales can weigh around 100 to 150 tons, according to marinemammalcenter.org.
From tires to mattresses, DeSoto County workers estimate they collected up to 100 tons of litter along area roadways after the holidays.
“This is pretty common,” County Administrator Mandy Hines told the Sun. “It’s common year-round but particularly heavy after the holidays. It’s usually a substantial amount from illegal dumping by the residents. There are mattresses, televisions, tires and more. Often times these things are picked up on the side of groves or in the county’s right of ways.”
This was unacceptable for DeSoto County Chair Commissioner Juril “Buddy” Mansfield at Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting.
“This is trash picked up over the holidays in this county that was in a three-week span ... from the side of the road,” said Mansfield. “It never made it to the dump.”
“It’s a monthly basis that the road and bridge department is out collecting, constantly, for illegal dumping on the sides of the roads,” Hines said at the meeting.
This blue whale of waste was being stored at the county’s road and bridge facility on Northeast McKay Street but will have to be moved to the DeSoto County Landfill at 3268 S.W. Dishong Ave.
“I don’t know how much waste is there (exactly),” Mansfield said at Tuesday’s BOCC meeting, “but this costs the county taxpayers money. This is absolutely unacceptable.”
Hines told the Sun that part of the cost for taxpayers is that employees are being taken away from their regular duties to collect the trash.
“It’s a real cost (to taxpayers) because every hour we are doing that, we can’t maintain normal things like cleaning ditches, highway mowing, and other regular tasks. This takes up hours that could be used in more beneficial ways,” Hines said.
County spokesperson Tara Poulton said that there is still work to be done to get the trash to the landfill.
“Our road and bridge staff has picked up at random times over the past three weeks and brought it to the facility,” Poulton said. “They have to load it on a truck and get it to the landfill. It’s a pretty impressive amount of trash.”