It takes teamwork to clean up Pendleton County: Steele leading the way
With 57 miles of waterways and hundreds miles of roads in Pendleton County, the task of cleaning up Pendleton County is daunting.
Pendleton County’s Solid Waste Coordinator Billy Steele has spent the past four years diving in and making sure the beautiful countrysides and waterways of his home county stay as close to as they were during the days Daniel Boone roamed Kentucky.
The trash abatement program has local groups pick up trash along state roads and a few county roads twice a year.
“It’s an excellent program,” said Steele as he is presently in the midst of signing up groups for the fall period.”
“It’s 150.2 miles, and when you think of both sides of the road, they are cleaning up over 300 miles,” Steele added.
While the program is directly cleaning up roadsides, it also is educating and informing the civic groups participating. It ranges from many high school groups and athletic teams to church groups to community youth groups.
According to Steele, the state program does not completely fund the $30,000 dispersed to the local groups, but the Pendleton County Fiscal Court picks up the rest of the cost.
While local groups have focused on roadsides, Steele has instituted new programs to remove used tires from hollows, farms and illegal dumps.
“Over the past four years, we have removed in excess of 20,000 used tires from Pendleton County,” said Steele.
That does not include a Tire Waste Recollection program that was brought into the county in 2018. In that one program, over 28,000 tires were removed.
That $2 per tire payment consumers make when purchasing new tires is what funds the efforts to clean up the countryside and waterways throughout Kentucky.
In addition, Steele’s fiscal leadership allows more to be done with the same dollars. When the previous handler of the tires raised the cost to exorbitant levels, he sought out another handler. He partnered with Grant County to handle “10 times more tires with the same dollars.”
“We need to be good stewards of the land we have. I am a bit of an environmentalists at heart,”said Steele, who had interest in the position when Fred Edwards retired. He had been the only solid waster coordinator after Kentucky required each county to create a position over a decade ago.
Steele has been encouraged by a good partnership recently with Rumpke. He indicated they have a deodorization system that encompasses the landfill, and the nickel per ton that is paid to dump in the landfill is used for school grants, scholarships and recycling programs.
Rumpke offers a free landfill day for Rumpke county customers as well as residents of Butler and Falmouth. It allows residents and customers to clean their own property.
“On the second Saturday of each month, 16 tons are collected in those four hours. That is 192 tons per year not making into a hollow or illegal dump in the county,” said Steele.
He was quick to emphasize that even with the free landfill day, Pendleton County residents can drop off scrap metal or white goods at anytime at the landfill.
“Whether it’s an air conditioner, dishwasher, water heater, dryer, washer, fridge, metal shelves or anything in those categories, they can drop it off at the landfill,” said Steele. “When we can divert things from the landfill, it helps cleans things up.”
He worked to create a Hazardous Waste Day held each July. Over 8,000 pounds of paint, fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury, pesticides, batteries, etc., were moved out of the county this past year.
“It’s a double-edge sword of having a landfill host county, but Adam Rumpke has built up a good partnership with us. The benefits far exceed the negatives,” said Steele.
Whether it’s the hundreds of Mt. Dew or beer cans along the roadsides, the tires, truck parts or hay bale plastic in waterways, or the hazardous chemicals in every household that needs to be trashed, Billy Steele has led the efforts to make sure the residents of Pendleton County are good stewards of this beautiful country land and pass it onto the next generation better than we received it.