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Compactor added to address county trash problem

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Chaves County has added another waste compactor at its Midway compactor site, as it continues to deal with a quality-of-life and potential public health issue of piles of debris at some of its five waste sites due to capacity problems as well as people dumping “junk” not allowed at the sites.

At times during 2021, especially after area floods in July caused several problems in the area that affected the five county waste sites, county residents have taken to social media and called Chaves County Board of Commissioners members to complain about waste sites. The county is also wanting to eliminate its open-top bins, which county officials believe can lead to people dumping items that aren’t allowed.

County Manager Bill Williams has said that the long-term solution to the issue is a regional landfill to serve the counties and the municipalities in it. The design and construction of a landfill has been placed on the county Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan list, but the county does not expect to begin applying for funding for the project, roughly estimated now at $10 million, until about 2024.

Williams told commissioners at a Nov. 18 meeting that the additional compactor doubles the capacity at the Midway site, which is located on Templeton Street.

“It is one of our troubled children, as far as people throwing garbage on the ground and not utilizing the compactors appropriately,” Williams said.

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Public Services Director Mac Rogers said that the Midway site now has two functioning compactors that will be working around the clock. It had two before, but one wasn’t working.

Williams acknowledged that one new compactor is not going to solve the problem. He said an employee with the Road Department, which oversees waste management for the county, had provided a photo from earlier in the week that again showed that people had thrown a pile of debris outside the Midway compactors, although the compactors were not full.

“A lot of the junk was stuff that is not acceptable at our county sites, so we are still going to be battling people that refuse to obey the rules,” Williams said.

Rogers added that, in spite of that photo and incident, dumping has decreased in Midway due to the new compactor. He also said the county is evaluating whether additional waste sites can be improved. Besides the Midway site, the county has compactors at Old Clovis Highway and Wiggins Road, Railroad Road and Lone Cedar, Miller Road near Ojibwa Road, and Piñon Dunken Road in Dunken.

Williams said the county is looking at other methods to combat unlawful dumping, including possibly installing real-time video surveillance to catch people.

“We need to really step it up and start citing people, I believe, that are intentionally breaking the rules,” Williams said. “And we have done things and will continue to do things like making the signs easier to understand.”

Rogers said trash should be bagged household items and encouraged people to report illegal dumping to the Chaves County Road Department at 575-624-6610.

Rita Kane-Doerhoefer, an officer with Keep Chaves County Beautiful, told commissioners that the organization intends to use existing funds to purchase one security camera for the county waste sites and plans to request additional funding in 2022 for more equipment.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.