When the sight of garbage in Wadena-area ditches began to surpass the number of deer that Scott Kern, of Wadena, was seeing on his drives in the country, he decided to join forces to clean up the countryside.
Kern joined up with Dale and Joey Schmitz on Saturday, Aug. 28, to fill a large trailer with tossed couches, love seats and mattresses, which were littering ditches near their homes north of Wadena. Schmitz brought out a tractor to scoop the large pieces from the ditches off Leaf River Road, making quick work of the refuse.
Kern shared his concerns about the garbage stacking up in the area near his home near the Leaf River.
"I call it the dump road," Kern said as it's been the target of numerous unlawful dumping for many years. It's just recently that the dumping brought Kern to want to do something more to stop it. "I just care more than I ever used to."
"If somebody sees something they should report it," Kern said of the garbage dumping. He feels that if someone is seen dumping, that authorities should be called and even if an individual is not seen, if trash is found, people should call the local authority, be that the township, county or state road.
Kern was pleased that the Wadena County Solid Waste allowed the group to dispose of the collection for free, though doing so would normally come at a cost based on a fee schedule the county approves each year.
Wadena County Coordinator Ryan Odden said the effort from the volunteers is appreciated.
"Obviously it's a crime to litter and dump out garbage on our roads," Odden said. "When somebody does dump various garbage items on our roads our maintenance staff picks it up and we haul it to the transfer station."
Those found to be littering on the roads or along them can be punished with a misdemeanor that will go on their driving record, according to state statute. Any second or subsequent offense requires a minimum fine in the amount of $400. Any judge may, for any similar violation, order the offender to pick up litter along any public highway or road for four to eight hours under the direction of the Department of Transportation, with the option of a jail sentence being imposed.
The county does not organize voluntary pickup, rather it's sort of an unwritten rule of kindness that residents keep their areas clean, even if they are not the ones making the mess.
"We don't have a formal adopt-a-highway like MnDOT does, but a lot of area residents do clean their ditches if it's in their area," Odden said. "Usually they'll tell me about it. We don't have crews just walking the rightways cleaning the road ditch."
He adds that if large items are spotted, county staff do try to pick those up, especially those that pose a risk to the public.
For those residents that voluntarily pick up the garbage, there's little in it for them except the satisfaction of a clean property. In general, if they bring the garbage, even if it's not there's, in to the county's transfer station, they can expect to pay a fee. Fees cover the cost of disposal and transport to the Perham Resource Recovery Facility or to a Waste Management owned sanitary landfill where it is properly disposed.
Where to take it and what's the cost?
The Wadena County Transfer Station, Recycling Center and Landfill are all located 2.5 miles north of Wadena on 11th Street North and a .5 mile east on 170th Street.
While you are limited to what can be placed in the landfill, or in any of the numerous recycling drop offs around the county, there are other options for disposal of your goods at the transfer station, including furniture for a small fee.
For example, disposing of beds will cost you about $10-$15 depending on the size of bed. Coaches cost $15. Chairs and recliners are $6. Electronics like TVs or computers cost between $5-$10 for disposal. Non-freon appliances are $5, while freon appliances, like refrigerators cost $10.
That's a fairly small price to pay to relieve yourself of trash and it's the environmentally friendly and neighborly thing to do. Gifting someone else your trash hurts them and makes our community look worse in the process.
For more information on disposal, contact the transfer station at 218‐631‐2474. They are open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.