MINGO COUNTY, WV (WOWK) - Illegal, open dump sites are becoming more and more common in Wild and Wonderful Mingo County- a county that relies on tourism- on the trails and trail riders.
The Mingo County Sheriff's Office is on the forefront of fighting back against them.
We wanted to see one for ourselves, so we tagged along with deputies for the day. At the site, just outside of Williamson, we found cashed beer boxes, so much plastic, a buckshot loaded trash can, condoms, tampons, tires, and more.
"They got kids! There's a dirty diaper," said Cpl. J. Endicott.
Chief Deputy Smith and Cpl. Endicott took us to a football field-sized space with enough trash to fill a trailer.
Endicott said, "That looks like a suboxone strip on the end of it."
Calls about these illegal dump sites are a weekly thing for the agency. Smith said, "I was here in November or December hunting. I mean, this wasn't like this."
The county is seen its budget compacted in recent years. They lost their litter officer two years ago.
They had to get creative.
It was the most cost-efficient and fastest route they could take- Facebook. They go to the dump site, find personal information that's inevitably left behind, and post it for everyone to see.
"I ran it by the prosecutor before we actually done it, just to make sure we could legally do it," Smith said. He said there were not issues with that. For the past six months or so, we've had pretty good success."
It just took a few minutes before we ran into what Chief Deputy Smith said we'd find- personal items that ID the suspect. In this case, we found mail, bank account numbers, even the suspect's tax return information.
"It all appears to be the same person, Timothy Brock and Teresa Estep. This one here's got both with the same address," Smith said.
Typically, the deputies would go back to the office and make the Facebook post, asking the suspects to come in. But this time, we just went straight to the address listed on the mail.
That's when we met Timothy Brock. Smith and Endicott said he's responsible for the whole thing. At first, he wasn't willing to own up those accusations.
Brock said, "It might have blown out of the back of my truck. I took some stuff down to the dump at Wyoming County the other day."
Brock said all of this trash blew out of the back of his truck. Chief Deputy Smith- not buying it. He knows the laws of physics still apply in the bed on Mr. Brock's truck. Smith said, "We were 200 yards off the roadway, down an embankment, down through the hills. That just wasn't an option. He eventually told the truth, that he threw the trash out."
Smith: "How many bags of trash did you throw out there?
Brock: "I threw one bag."
Smith: "Oh come on that's not true."
Brock: "Me personally, no. I just threw one bag."
Brock's personal information was found in the majority of each of those piles. As far as the excuses go, Smith said he's heard it all.
"Today was the first day that the guy openly admitted that he actually dumped the trash himself," he said. "We've heard everything. One post, was somebody actually stole my trash."
Here's the thing- this isn't the only dump site in Mingo. They're getting weekly calls about others just like this one. Smith said, they're so much more than just eyesores.
"Financially, it's affecting our county," he said. "I saw posts on Facebook from trail riders saying they refuse to come back to Mingo due to this. The trail riders bring in a lot of money to Mingo County. With the coal mines and coal severance tax not being what it's been in the past, it's really affecting us, county wide. We need every dollar we can get."
Smith said Brock has since been back to the site and he cleaned everything.
He said he hopes Brock has learned a lesson- and maybe that lesson will prevent future dump sites from making their way into the county.
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