Commissioner warns county residents: Don't dump in the ditches

By: 
April Coble
Staff Writer

With two major winter storms, Jupiter and Ursula, bringing widespread damage and downed tree limbs across the county, messes have to be cleaned up and hauled off.

January's Winter Storm Jupiter left quite the mess behind, with Texas County and all of its municipalities left to work out ways to help residents find a proper and safe way to dispose of damaged and downed tree branches.

That's when dumping problems started for the year.

Some county residents have taken to solving the problem themselves, but are creating a new problem in the process that Commissioner Dicky Bryan notes is not only something he and his colleagues, Jack Strain and Ted Keeling must clean up, but is also illegal and dangerous.

In many instances, people leave branches in the county road ditches. This can create unsafe conditions including a place for pests to live and breed, problems with blocked drainage, and file for fires.
Contact with Guymon Fire Department Chief Dean McFadden verifies another hazard with branches being dumped where they shouldn't be - fuel for fires. Whether they're dry or green, a hot enough fire reaching large piles of illegally dumped branches can add more heat to an already dangerous situation.

"Absolutely it creates a fire and health hazard," McFadden said.

Bryan brought the problem to attention after Guymon's city-wide cleanup on April 22. It is not clear if the illegal dumper who left a pile of branches where they shouldn't be dumped was a city resident, but it is clear the method in which they were left behind - in the middle of a county road, several feet long and wide, from a dumping trailer. An entire lane blocked where it could cause an accident - especially after dark. With approximately 2,700 miles of roads to cover, county crews are unable to check every road every single day.

Bryan notes that those dumping illegally can face fines and possible time in jail. He also noted that if someone is hurt and it can be proven that the illegal dumper was responsible for the debris in the road or ditch, they could face felony charges.

That's a much more steep price to pay than taking the time to find an appropriate dump site and getting the branches dropped off. After storms, many sites may have free dump days for tree limbs and brush to help communities get the mess cleaned up.

The City of Guymon offered a free drop-off at the transfer station three times after Jupiter, including the April 22 community cleanup day. On the cleanup day, the city also included a list of other items accepted at not only the transfer station, but also a drop-off within city limits at the county fairgrounds as well.

Those in the out in the county may be able to contact their commissioners to find out where appropriate dump sites are available to dispose of limbs. Phone numbers for each of the commissioners are listed online at texas.okcounties.org and can be called at: Ted Keeling, District 1, (580)652-2771; Dicky Bryan, District 2, (580)338-6336; Jack Strain, District 3, (580)423-7222. Those within the limits of any municipality can contact their respective city offices for more information on what plans have been made to address brush disposal.

For those who live inside City of Guymon, the city council recently passed a resolution allowing the city to pay for storm debris dropped off at the municipal transfer station. Payments for branches downed by major storms, such as the recent winter storms Jupiter and Ursula, are set at $40 per ton. For more information, contact Guymon City Hall at (580)338-3396.

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