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|OPPJ buys another camera to capture illegal dumping|
Ouachita Parish officials will beef up efforts to stop illegal dumping with the purchase of an additional litter camera surveillance system.
Police juror Pat Moore suggested the parish buy two more camera systems to combat the illegal dumping problem, but the parish's code enforcement fund did not have enough money to make the purchase.
Instead, police jurors agreed to buy one camera system at roughly $600.
"I think we're moving in the right direction, but we still have a major problem and I think we need to purchase additional equipment in order to minimize this illegal dumping," Moore said.
Earlier this year, the police jury agreed to have cameras installed in several areas throughout the parish that are considered hot spots for illegal dumping.
Moore said there are numerous problems in her district as well as District D, which is represented by Ruby Blade, wife of the late juror Dorth Blade.
However, she said the problem is parish-wide, and code enforcement officials have identified sites throughout the parish where people often illegally dump items such as old sofas and mattresses.
"We have some serious problems in my district and in Mrs. Blade's district, so we will certainly make sure we are monitoring District D and District F," Moore said. "But, this is a parish-wide problem."
"I think if we purchase this equipment we could help minimize our illegal dumping problem," she said.
Wayne Heckford, code enforcement officer with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office, said local constables check sites where cameras are located. People filmed dumping items illegally are investigated by the sheriff's office.
"We don't want anyone in jail behind this, but we know we will have to enforce the law," Moore said. "We have to do something, because we don't have the money to keep going out there and cleaning this up."
Shortly before he passed away, Dorth Blade stressed that illegal dumping had become a serious issue in his district. So much so, that it was causing drainage problems in certain areas. That's because people frequently throw out tires, mattresses and other large items in streams and ditches.
He warned that if the parish did not get a handle on the problem, it would lead to more flooding problems.
"It's also creating problems with flooding in my district," Moore said.
Public Works director John Tom Murray said ditches throughout the parish are being used as dump sites.
Moore said the issue was generally an off-road problem and the police jury has no source of funds dedicated for off-road drainage work.
There has not been any dedicated funding for off-road drainage projects in the parish for at least 30 years. The parish on two occasions asked voters to renew a drainage tax, or property millage, but the proposal failed each time.
In Ouachita Parish, there's no source of funds for work on off-road ditches other than the police jury's general fund.
"We don't know what else to do," Moore said. "I guess people are not taking us seriously, so we really have to clamp down on this."
Moore also plans to talk with parish attorney Jay Mitchell about strengthening the current litter ordinance since many who illegally dump are repeat offenders.
"We have to hit them where it hurts," Moore explained. "They're not taking us seriously, and it's causing us major problems. I'm fed up with it and we just have to get tough on this thing."