ASHBURN - Old tires litter the roadside along Turner County's Hatfield Boulevard, left there by people who didn't want to pay to have the tires disposed of properly or didn't realize that Turner County has a tire collection site.

The street in Turner's industrial park is just one of dozens of dump sites around the county where everything from household garbage to old lawnmowers is thrown out. But county officials hope to change the dumpers' thinking, using a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"We had 40 plus calls about illegal dumping last year alone," said Turner County Sheriff Randy Kendrick. "We have only a limited number of deputies to handle these calls. If we get the grant we can hire somebody just to work on that, plus they can get out in the community and in the schools and educate the public."

The local government enforcement and education grant, available through the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's Scrap Tire Management Program, pays up to $80,000 in reimbursement to eligible counties, environmental planner Emily Perry of the South Georgia Regional Development Center said.

Communities may choose to use the money for a vehicle, salaries for enforcement personnel or related expenses. "Education is the key to this grant," said Perry.

The Turner County landfill is closed and household garbage is handled by a private company, so items like furniture have to be taken to other counties where there is a landfill. There is a collection site for tires and metal, at the county road department on County Farm Road, off Industrial Drive.

County Road Superintendent Greg Mathis said charges for handling tires are $1 per car tire, $3 per truck tire and $10 per tractor tire. There is no charge to dispose of metal items like old washing machines.

"We've found things like stoves, refrigerators, TVs, household garbage, lawnmowers, golf carts, asphalt shingles, big truck tires," said Kendrick. "But I'd say our biggest problem is with tires.

"I know people don't want to pay to get rid of them, but they're an environmental hazard. They're a breeding ground for mosquitoes."

Fines for illegal dumping in Turner County range from $150 to $1,500, Kendrick said.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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