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Illegal use of recycling centers targeted

Surry County always stands ready to welcome visitors and tourists into this neck of the woods to enjoy the scenery and a taste of Mayberry hospitality. However, at times this hospitality is being taken advantage of by residents of neighboring counties and across the state line who want to use Surry County’s recycling convenience centers as their own personal dump.

Public Works Director Jessica Montgomery brought the board a proposal to bring back a decal program that would help the attendants at the county convenience and recycling centers to know who a Surry County resident is and who is not.

“Something we probably get the most complaints about at the convenience centers, you probably hear it as well, is people from out of county, out of state, folks using the convenience center,” she said. Currently there is an honor system as an attendant may speak to someone at the convenience center to ascertain if they are a Surry County resident, “but it doesn’t seem to be good enough. It really upsets folks who take pride in our convenience centers.”

She said the residents of Surry County are the ones paying the taxes and that services her department provides should be for those who pay for them. To that end she explained, “We are thinking about implementing convenience center decals. These were last used in the late 1990s and a lot of counties are bringing these back.”

For example, she provided a recent decal from Ashe County, which has recently gotten back into this practice, which she described as a “cling” like an oil change reminder on the windshield of the car that would leave no damage.

Commissioner Van Tucker perked up and asked if they would be interchangeable between cars, which Montgomery said had been a complaint of the previous decal system. To avoid that complaint, she said that a household could have more than one sticker, or that the sticker could be moved to an alternate vehicle.

With the new decal she said it would become a simple process, “It would be something the convenience center attendant can see when you pull up, and if you don’t have it: no dumping.”

Ashe County, she said, had a sort of soft six-month roll out of their decal system to let folks know that they were looking for the decals, and that enforcement was soon to follow. “Everybody around us does it, pretty much, but us and we’re getting a lot of out of county and out of state trash.”

Commissioner Larry Johnson, who often thanks the citizenry for paying their taxes promptly, said, “If you pay your taxes in Surry County, then it should be no problem to get a sticker,”

“We’ve talked about it and my understanding is that people make mistakes,” Tucker said about someone forgetting their decal. “The first time, I think they ought to get a friendly reminder, to be honest, some people may need two or three friendly reminders.”

“As a member of the property committee, I get complaints about this and chronic violators, in Lowgap especially,” Chairman Eddie Harris said. “Generally, as a citizen I would want this.”

“For us to have a landfill and a system that is really, really good comes a certain amount of responsibility. Part of your responsibility as a citizen is to follow the law and follow the rules. If you follow the rules, you shouldn’t have any problem with this.”

“It is an enterprise system, our landfill, and it operates to keep its head above water only on the fee for service that it provides to the benefit of the taxpayers of the county. For that reason, I think it’s reasonable that Surry County trash goes in the Surry County landfill,” Tucker added.

“I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with this because they should want the rules to be followed,” Harris said and added that having the landfill is a “tremendous benefit” to the county and saves the taxpayer money by not hauling trash off to other counties to be disposed of.

Montgomery outlined the minimal costs of reimplementing the decal program saying that it would cost a penny to insert the decals into tax bills that will be mailed out and around $8,000 to print the decals.

The board was told if they liked the plan, they needed to act to get the coordination squared away before the tax mailings go out and they gave unanimous approval to the decal program.

Montgomery reported Wednesday that she may have run into a problem getting the decals printed in time, which would delay them being sent with tax notices, but is looking forward to implementing the program as soon as possible.

In other board news:

– County Attorney Ed Woltz reminded the board that in June 2021 it gave approval to Elkin City Schools to sell a tract of school system property equaling 1,823 square feet to Duke Energy in a unanimous decision.

“Unbeknownst to anyone, that tract was in violation of the town’s zoning ordinance and in order to comply they will need an additional 242 square feet and the school board attorney has asked this board to approve the Elkin board’s conveyance of the rest of the footage to meet the requirements,” Woltz said.

Chairman Eddie Harris said he had spoken with Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox, who is retiring from her position at the end of the month but had not been made aware of this snag. Regardless, he said that to satisfy the town’s requirements he supported the conveyance and the board agreed in passing the resolution.

– An effort is underway to designate U.S. 421 from western Wilkes County to Interstate 40 in Winston-Salem a future interstate highway. The board passed a resolution in support of such an interstate designation for U.S. 421 in northwestern North Carolina.

The resolution language reflected that Forsyth, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties and municipalities such as Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro had already signed on to a similar resolution.

In part it says, “Even though U.S. 421 is located outside Surry County, we support this portion to be a future interstate highway as it will enhance economic opportunity in southwestern Surry County, including the Town of Elkin…. and is a logical extension of the congressionally adopted 2021 legislation that designated another segment of U.S. Highway 421 from I-85 in Greensboro to I-95 between Fayetteville and Dunn – as a future interstate.”



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