Carter County officials looking at ways to resolve illegal dump in Roan Mountain

John Thompson • Apr 9, 2019 at 9:40 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Edward Jordan, president of Keep Carter County Beautiful, has seen plenty of litter and illegal dump sites during his long campaign to clean up the county, but he used the word “horrible” to describe one of the worst dumping sites he has seen.

“This horrible situation on Teaberry Road in Roan Mountain, located in Carter County, has been brought to my attention,” Jordan wrote in an email he sent out on Tuesday morning. The dump site not only contained the usual household waste, but also several dead animals that had been recently dumped there.

“This is also an animal cruelty issue to the public,” Jordan said. “Disgraceful!”

The dump site lies off a private road, just a short distance from a section of Teaberry Road. The land is privately owned, which presents a problem for county officials.

“It would be a felony to work inmate labor on private property,” Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said Tuesday. He said the state Comptroller’s office keeps close watch on the use of government assets on private property.

The Carter County Highway Department has the same problem. The state does not permit county equipment or employees to work on private property.

A county employee familiar with the location said the property owner does work to clean the area, using his own heavy equipment, but the site has been used as a dump site for such a long time that even after the property has been cleaned up, the dumping soon begins again. The employee said the property owner has buried the animals that had been dumped on the property.

One thing that the county could do to help the property owner is to close the section of Teaberry Road where the dumping is taking place. Mayor Rusty Barnett said the question may be brought to the Highway Committee of the Carter County Commission at its next meeting. One problem would be permitting access to any property owners on that stretch of the road. The committee would probably hold a public hearing to determine the impact of closing the section of road.

While the county can’t get involved in the cleanup, Jordan said there is one area where the county should certainly get involved.

“There has to be some serious law enforcement involvement and judges willing to prosecute those that trash and do such horrible acts — these people are destroying our beautiful environment and it appears they are abusing innocent animals repetitively,” Jordan said.

“The public’s help is needed in reporting those who are trashing our Carter County communities …. If you see someone littering and can get the tag number, or you know who has contributed to this awful case of littering on Teaberry Road, then please report it to the Carter County Sheriff’s office at 423-543-1896 or online at http://www.sheriff.cc/home/contact-us/crime-tip/. Your tip can remain anonymous. Hopefully the perpetrators can be named, and charges can be filed,” he said.

Jordan was pleased to hear a comment from Patty Woodby, one of the Carter County commissioners from Roan Mountain, who said county officials are working together to resolve the problem on Teaberry Road and to ensure it does not continue.