With hundreds of illegal dump sites littering the land of Pottawatomie County, the environmental crimes investigator there has his work cut out for him. Three months into the job, the deputy dedicated to the dumps is making progress, and he is not doing it alone.
One ravine on Fishmarket Road has been filled with trash for decades. It is finally getting a deep clean, and the county hopes to keep it that way.
Heavy machinery helped to heap together piles to haul away.
“This is the biggest clean-up we’ve tackled so far,” says Deputy Shaun Copelin.
It took the help of county code enforcement crews to empty more than 120,000 pounds of trash from the site.
“It’s sad,” says District 2 Code Superintendent Joe Brummett. “You wonder what kind of ethics these people have to just dump everywhere.”
Local business owners are donating additional equipment and landfill space for the huge county-wide undertaking.
While tires were tossed from the site on Fishmarket, farther south, volunteer citizens collected nearly 30,000 pounds of trash near Slaughterville.
Copelin says the help has been pouring in since he started the push to clean up Pott. County.
“The great thing is I’ve been getting tips on beginning dumps,” says Copelin, “so we get out there, we clean it up, try to stop it from continuing.”
Copelin now plans to fill in the Fishmarket Road ravine with dirt, and the property owner will install a fence, but the work continues. More than 40 people have received citations so far.
“It’s going to be almost like a game of whack-a-mole,” Copelin says. “We’re going to clean up, deter people from dumping here. Unfortunately, some people are going to go somewhere else and find the next spot.”
Copelin is confident that with the community's help, illegal dumping will eventually be a problem of the past.
“We want to clean up Pott County,” he says. “We want to make this a place that’s healthy and safe and beautiful to raise our families and to live.”
If you see an illegal dump site along unincorporated county roads, call the tip line at (405) 309-7797. If you would like to join the efforts to clean up these sites, join the Keeping Pottawatomie County Clean group on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.