In response to the concerns of some area residents, Surry County Public Works Director Dennis Bledsoe said that the utilization of Surry County convenience centers by residents from outside the county simply isn’t a real problem.
“At any of our outlying sites near adjoining counties, you’re going to get some trash that comes from outside the county,” said Bledsoe.
Bledsoe said that there’s no doubt in his mind that centers such as the North Surry center, Flatrock center and Shoals center are sometimes used by folks who live in either adjoining North Carolina counties or Virginia. However, Bledsoe said that sometimes the issue isn’t as cut and dry as looking at the license plate on a car or verifying a person’s address.
According to Bledsoe there are a number of underlying reasons why a person might show up at a Surry County convenience center with Virginia tags or an identification card that lists an address other than a Surry County address. Bledsoe said, no matter what the reason, his workers have been directed to question an individual who gives reason to suspect he or she is not from Surry County.
One instance in which a non-Surry County resident might be using a county convenience center, according to Bledsoe, is when a person is taking someone else’s trash to the center. Bledsoe said there are many occasions in which a Virginia resident might be taking the trash of a county resident who is unable to take it themselves to a county convenience center.
Bledsoe said that many residents of surrounding counties also own property in Surry County. Thus, many of them are paying the $39 per household annual fee for trash services in Surry County. Bledsoe added that some Surry County residents have mailing addresses that fall outside of the county even though they live within the boundaries of Surry County, citing Pinnacle residents as an example.
Though Bledsoe doesn’t believe the problem to be significant or “even a real problem,” he said that county workers at convenience centers do their best to regulate who is using the centers. However, Bledsoe said that workers on site have their work cut out for them.
“Sometimes it can be hard to regulate, given the number of users we service,” said Bledsoe. “With 900 to 1,000 cars showing up in a day and traffic backed-up, some slip by.”
Bledsoe said that in the past Surry County issued stickers for residents to place on their vehicles, denoting their right to use county convenience centers. However, Bledsoe said that process proved to be a far bigger hastle than it was worth.
“I remember pealing my sticker off of one car and trying to get it to stick on my new one,” recounted Bledsoe. In reference to the administrative process that would be needed in order to implement the sticker process again Bledsoe said, “the stickers just aren’t a feasible solution to a problem that’s not really there.”
Bledsoe also said that any trash that comes from outside the county is negligable and played no role in this year’s move to increase trash fees in the county. Bledsoe has also provided statistics showing that Surry County’s annual trash fee of $39 per household is still far lower than surrounding counties.
“We just try to do a good job and provide the residents of Surry County with the best services possible,” said Bledsoe, adding that workers at convenience centers will continue to diligently monitor who is using the facilities.
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or [email protected]