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Commission split on anti-litter challenge
Connie Thrift
Connie Thrift - photo by Courier file photo
Pat Bowen and Connie Thrift were the only two Liberty County Commissioners to vote “nay” regarding the commission’s participation in the state Clean Community Challenge campaign, which includes penalizing drivers with unsecured loads.
During the Jan. 6 meeting, Keep Liberty County Beautiful Director Sara Swida  said the county would be eligible to receive a $26,625 state grant if they signed on.
However, the required citation reports concerned Thrift, who represents an unincorporated area where hauling trash to a dump site is necessary.
“I hate to think you’re going to have to go around and cite them if they don’t have the trash on the back of their pickup truck secured with a tarp,” Thrift said.
Swida said securing loose loads was the law anyway and it is “something we have to get across to people.”
“I really think we tried to approach it from the most humane method possible,” she said, offering possible solutions such as roadside checks that issue only warning tickets rather than full citations, and giving out free tarps.
But Thrift questioned whether there are enough tarps to go around after factoring in motorists from Long and Bryan counties who drive through Liberty County.
Swida said she didn’t think purchasing a $6 tarp was an unreasonable request, considering 65 percent of roadside litter is blown from vehicles. She stressed the education and awareness effort would balance the law enforcement portion.
And all the roadside litter is not from those hauling trash, but from those “using the back of their truck as a trash can,” according to Swida.
Thrift said she would like to see curbside service, eliminating the need to haul trash.
On another subject, plans are progressing for another east-end EMS after commissioners approved rezoning a little more than five acres in Tradeport East from agricultural use to business use. The center will include a fire station and a health care clinic.
Considering its proximity to environmentally sensitive areas, the Liberty County Planning Commission recommended a 100-foot undisturbed vegetative buffer to minimize any pollutants to nearby wetlands and marshes.
Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley said the park was designed to be “very environmentally friendly.”
“All three of these facilities … will be of significant benefit to a lot of people on the east end,” Tolley said.
Though Tolley pointed out the buffer is four times larger than state standards require, Commissioner Eddie Walden was not comfortable with it.
“I’ve been in that area and I don’t know if that’s a proper distance,” Walden said. “I would lean a little more to 200 foot, but 100 foot – I’m just not convinced that that’s enough buffer.”
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