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Commissioners addressing roadside trash after input from community group

  • Community volunteers, many from the Bridlegate community, recently cleaned up about 110 bags of trash from county rides. The group presented their concern regarding extensive littering and lack of cleanup to the Bandera County Commissioners Court, who res
    Community volunteers, many from the Bridlegate community, recently cleaned up about 110 bags of trash from county rides. The group presented their concern regarding extensive littering and lack of cleanup to the Bandera County Commissioners Court, who res

The Bandera County Commissioners’ Court developed a plan to address roadside litter removal on the county-maintained right-of-ways (ROWs) following a presentation from members of the community who had taken it upon themselves to clean up about 110 bags of garbage.

The issue of litter was presented during a meeting of the court last month to Jody Rutherford, Precinct 4 Commissioner, by a group led by Bandera resident Mike Stiborik, who recently organized a group to clean roads near the Bridlegate and Flying L area.

“There’s a lot of trash on these ROWs,” Stiborik said. “Some of this garbage is really old too. If we can get ahead of this, that’d be really good.”

Stiborik and the volunteers cleaned up just shy of seven miles of garbage using their own supplies, trucks, and trailers. The contractor bags and pickers were paid for by Stiborik, which he requested a reimbursement for at court.

About 25 volunteers showed up on two separate days to pick up litter on four county roads starting on Bottle Springs at 173, down to Rodeo Road, up Rodeo Road to Wharton’s Dock, down Wharton’s Dock back to 173 and on 173 back to Bottle Springs.

The litter that was picked up consisted of beer cans, degraded Styrofoam and plastic bags, cigarette butts, tires, gallon bottles with urine, and drug paraphernalia such as needles and bottles with questionable liquids, some with fentanyl.

Volunteers followed their own best safety practices by putting out cones, wearing vests, using grabber tools and wearing gloves.

“The more awareness we put out there, that’s how we get on top of this.” said a Bridlegate resident.

Another resident added, “I don’t mind doing community work, but we shouldn’t have to be doing that. I notice every week, starting Friday night, people are throwing out trash and beer cans. They’re driving drunk and running into people’s fences and nobody’s doing anything about it.”

“We like parades in Bandera,” said another resident. “Let’s have a Clean Up Bandera parade.”

Rutherford said litter on the ROWs was a problem that needed a solution.

“I have received several calls about litter building up on our county-maintained ROWs,” he said. “And I’ve received calls that we need to mow. Then we mowed, and I received more calls saying, ‘now you shredded all the garbage, and now it’s a real mess.’”

Rutherford said he intends to come up with a solution with the court and invited John Andrade, County Road Superintendent, for his input.

Stiborik said once the mowing is done, the extent of trash becomes apparent.

Bobby Harris, Commissioner for Precinct 2, mentioned people cleaning up the trash were not the people who made the mess and expressed gratitude for their work.

In response to a question from Stiborik, Harris said the county does fine people for littering, adding the constable will pick up a tossed garbage bag and bring it to the precinct dump, sifting through the bag looking for bills to identify the owner and prosecute.

“Then we can prosecute,” said Harris. With prosecution, a person can be fined $200 and be ordered to pick up a certain amount of garbage.

Harris said that the “Don’t Mess with Texas” signs are effective in preventing littering and proposed “Don’t Mess with Bandera County” signs.

County Road Superintendent Andrade agreed signage was a good idea and said he had enough in his budget to look into those, adding the Adopt-a-Highway program is another good option for keeping sections of the roads clean. He also suggested community clean-up days.

Andrade added the Roads and Bridge department does not have enough time or people to pick up every piece of trash before mowing, and mowers do not see a lot of the trash until after it is shredded..

He explained intact full garbage bags are inspected for identification.

With regard to ROW cleanup efforts, the court discussed availability of garbage bags, pickers and vests that could potentially be procured and managed by the Road and Bridge department and checked out by the public when needed.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” said County Judge Richard Evans. “We should get with TxDot and talk with them. They probably have a process in place for this.”

Rutherford said there is not enough manpower to get the county personnel on the ROWs to clean them, so the supplies needed to do it must be made available to whoever does.

Bruce Eliker, Commissioner for Precinct 1, was assigned to liaison with TxDot and begin the process to develop a plan for trash pickup on the county ROWs. He will work with Andrade, and the results will be discussed at the February 24 Commissioners’ Court.

Rutherford concluded, “This is a growing problem. I appreciate the Bridlegate group taking the time to start this process to pick up litter and trash in their area. I am hoping that this will be the beginning of Bandera County being able to partner with different groups around the county to keep the trash and litter picked up.”