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Crackdown on people who dump trash at Wadena County recyclable stations

WADENA -- People whose mail was found in trash they dumped at Wadena County recycling stations will soon receive a letter from commissioners informing them they will be fined for their illegal waste disposal.

Consultant Mike Gibson, who is overseeing the solid waste department, said he has about five pages of names found in debris. County workers have recorded the dates bags were found, how many bags and in what bin. The names were found on envelopes and prescription drug labels.

"In any case we have identified whose garbage was in those bags," Gibson said.

The fine will be based on how much it costs the county to clean up the messes. Statute 115A.99 allows counties to fine people for at least twice and no more than five times the amount of what it costs the county to remove, process and dispose of unlawfully placed waste.

Otter Tail County Solid Waste Director Mike Hanan said Otter Tail's ordinance has stronger penalties for dumping trash in other people's containers. Otter Tail allows people to pay twice the cost of cleanup if they pay before a certain date. If they don't, they are charged five times the cost and misdemeanor charges can be pursued with up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

Wadena County doesn't have illegal trash disposal in its ordinance like Otter Tail does, but commissioners agreed to look into changing the ordinance to allow for more strict rules and more severe fines.

The public has been very upset about the illegal dumping, Gibson said. The Wing River bin was removed because there were some particularly "egregious acts going on." The dumping at most of the county's sites has gotten noticeably worse in the past two months, he said.

"They want this cleaned up," he said.