Unicoi Co. faces possible fines for items sold at dump sites

It wasn’t an easy decision for county leaders. 

But years of falling behind for state compliance, the dump sites in Unicoi County are undergoing some changes. 

Commissioner Jamie Harris tells News Channel 11 that the county’s Hoover site, located at the industrial park in Erwin, will be closed for at least a half-day on Tuesday, April 2, due to cleaning to meet state compliance. 

This past week, we had inspectors come in, and they found several violations, Harris said. We were told that if we don’t change the way we operate, we could be in for some stiff fines. 

The biggest issue? Selling items at dump sites. 

We were made aware by the state that over the past five years, we were told to stop it, Harris said. And it just never happened. 

But Harris said he understood why items were being sold at sites. 

The contracts come in low, and this was a way to help directors maintain their sites, Harris said. I hate that we’re having to do this but at the same time, we don’t want any unnecessary tax increases for our residents either because of fines. 

Dump sites in Unicoi County are put out for bids to potential operators. Harris says he plans to bring a motion before a committee meeting on Friday to add $500 for operators to help with the changes until the new contract cycle comes up in July.

We were told we have to make the changes by June of this year, Harris said. We were given extra time due to the elections and new people holding seats. 

Harris is wanting people to know that the Hoover site will be closed for at least half-a-day due to the sheriff’s office bringing inmates in to help clean the site. 

We were able to clean the Higgins Creek site and it looks great now, Harris said. Our goal now is to clean Hoover then focus our attention to the Limestone location. 

Harris adds the county is hoping to expand their recycling efforts and limit the amount of out-of-county dumpers coming to the Limestone location. 

We’re getting Carter County and North Carolina people at that site, Harris said. We’re going to have to ask people to bring a piece of mail or something along those lines to confirm some type of residence in the county. If they can’t, we’ll have to turn them away. 

Harris adds that people can take the items they’d normally sell to other places, likes CHIPS or the Salvation Army. 

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