By Alton Porter
Several county residents voiced their concerns and complaints about illegal dumping and the poor condition of some county roads at a regular meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Presenting their concerns regarding an unsolved garbage dumping issue at the corner of CR 4020 and CR 4030, Precinct 3 residents MD and Judy Dell'Osso were the first to speak.
"We've owned property in Houston County for over 30 years south of town off Cut Road, Judy Dell'Osso said. "We love nature. We enjoy the outdoors and we respect the environment. And obviously, when you drive our road, (you see) that view is not shared by everyone, as is evidenced by the litter.
Dell'Osso continued, "We try to help by picking up litter as we are going out to our property. But today, we want to discuss this illegal dump that we have to pass every time we drive out to our property.
M. D. Dell'Osso noted that he and his wife had delivered copies of a letter and photos regarding the unlawful waste dumping site to the commissioners. "This looks like an illegal dump to me," he said. "And it's just unacceptable.
"We don't know these folks (who are dumping the refuse) and don't have any ill will toward them. But, when you allow this sort of thing to happen ..., it's unhealthy. It's a negative to the county. It's a negative to us and it tends to spread.
"And if you were to say, 'Much of this stuff hasn't migrated out to the county road,' that's because we pick it up.
"We were here (at a commissioners court meeting) in 2015, and we dealt with the commissioners court and your environmental officer.... In 2016, (Precinct 1) Constable (Morris) Luker talked to these folks and they said they were going to clean it up. So, we backed off.
"(But,) they didn't lift a finger. They didn't clean it up. They didn't do anything. In fact, you can see the garbage is getting higher. You can tell that garbage hasn't been there since 2016 or 2015. What happens is these things tend to spread. The dump continues to grow."
He continued, "So, why are we here? We're here because it's been so long since 2015. We know you've got a lot to do. And we know to get these things resolved, you've got to stick with it.
"We're not here complaining. In fact, quite the opposite. We're here to be positive and to help the county. We'll do anything we can. I've offered to testify or whatever we need to do to help the county clean this up. It takes effort. We're going to stick with it.
"And we really want to thank (Precinct 3) Commissioner (Pat) Perry and Constable Luker. Constable Luker has spoken to these people (who are believed to be responsible for the illegal dump) again. He sent them another notice – a third notice.
"As I understand it from his (Luker's) message to me, he has given them until the end of September to clean it up. So, I guess we'll see. I think it's an important issue to keep this whole thing under control."
After discussion by the commissioners, Houston County Judge Jim Lovell informed the Dell'Ossos that he has spoken with Luker about the matter. Luker has been in touch with the owner of the land where the dump is located, and they plan to burn the garbage before the end of September, Lovell said.
The next two people to voice concerns to the commissioners were Lonnie Ellis and Prentiss Carmicheal. They complained about the condition of CR 1035 and CR 1045 in Precinct 4.
"This road has gotten down (from two lanes) to one lane," Ellis said. "And it's flooding and we can't get out. I even got a hold of the governor's office trying to get somebody out there to help get a way out of there.
"They told me to get a hold of the fire marshal. He told me he couldn't do anything about it. So, I don't know what I'm going to do. But, I'm not going to fool with this court anymore. I bought me a front-end loader the other day so I can get out of there and get something done to that road.
"We want something done if you all can do it. I need this court to do something or I'm fixin' to go higher."
Precinct 4 Commissioner Kennon Kellum said he had a video made of the road the day Ellis first filed his complaint. Kellum had that video played during the meeting Monday, as he noted the road wasn't in as bad a condition as Ellis complained.
Attending Tuesday's meeting to inform the court about the poor condition of CR 1140, CR 1135 and CR 4710 in the Tadmor and Ratcliff communities near Kennard in Precinct 4 were Mittie Wiley Williams, Marva Anglin and Eva Jean Mills.
Both Williams and Anglin addressed the commissioners, with Anglin reading from a letter they first presented to the commissioners court in 1997 and re-submitted Monday. She said they also appeared before the court last year to voice their concerns.
Reading from the letter, Anglin said, "We the citizens of the Tadmor Community and Ratcliff Community are writing concerning the roads in these communities, which are CR 1140, CR 1135 and CR 4710. When it rains they are almost impossible to drive on. The drainage needs to be cleaned out. The roads need to be oil topped."
Anglin continued, "These roads are the main roads to the church and cemetery. The church is the nucleus of our community. These roads are traveled daily by Kennard Independent School District buses. Our youth are on these buses and that makes it more important for these roads to be in good condition.
"We need our roads to be fixed. Your assistance is requested to help sustain not only these children but also ensures that the community services will continue to be able to meet the growing needs for the institutional services in this area.
"We hope you will take this complaint in the helpful spirit in which it is meant. Anything you do to help our community will be greatly appreciated."
Referring to the 1997 letter, Williams said, "We hope we will get some help this time."