Tracking down illegal dumping

A recent decision by police to cite a Seymour man for failing to clean up an illegal dump site he admitted to helping create near the East Fork White River in the Vallonia Bottoms is not common, police said.

It is common, however, for police to receive reports of illegal dumping in areas along the bottoms of both the East Fork White River and the Muscatatuck River, Sheriff Michael Carothers said Monday.

That’s because there are long stretches of road in bottom areas, especially in Hamilton Township, where people can’t see anyone coming, lessening the likelihood of getting caught, he said.

In the case of the 42-year-old Seymour man, county officer Rick Meyer was able to track him down after finding an address in one of five piles of trash he found off County Road 375W. That address led him to a woman who lives in the 300 block of North County Road 360W, and she told police she paid the Seymour man to haul the trash out of her garage.

The woman told police that the man told her he was hauling the trash to a relative’s property in the Vallonia area and planned to burn it.

The man told Meyer he had dropped the trash off on property he thought a relative owned, and he gave Meyer the name of that relative. However, Meyer said, he could not find any record of a relative of the man living in the Vallonia Bottoms area.

Meyer said he gave the man several days to clean up the property, so the owners did not have to remove it. The man never removed the trash and told Meyer the ground was too wet and he did not want his truck to get stuck. On another occasion, he told Meyer he had a new job and was too busy to clean it.

On Sunday, Meyer gave the man four Class A infractions for littering within 100 feet of a waterway. The fine per infraction is $500.

Carothers said police rarely issue such infractions and generally give people the opportunity to clean up anything they have dumped illegally. He said that, in many cases, people tell police they paid somebody to haul trash off and the person they hire takes it and dumps it somewhere but not at the landfill.

Carothers said he was unsure of how the trash illegally dumped in these cases would be cleaned up, but it would be handled.

“We’re not going to issue an infraction and leave the trash,” he said.

A crew from the county highway department often is sent out to clean up illegal dump sites, and when that happens, it can be included as part of the fine if the person responsible for the dumping can be identified.

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To report illegal dumping, call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 812-358-2141.