97th Civil Affairs Battalion examined county’s solid waste program last week

Members of the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) spread out across southwest Georgia last week as part of the the unit’s Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRE).
According to Lieutenant Colonel Nathan P. Reynolds, commander of the unit, the exercise is designed to give solders realistic urban and rural areas to practice tactics, techniques, and procedures that soldiers will employ during overseas contingency operations within foreign countries.
In addition to Grady County, exercises were conducted in Baker, Calhoun, Early, Miller, Decatur, Dougherty, Randolph and Terrell counties as well as Atlanta.
Battalion members were dispatched from the coordinating site established in Early County and the exercise involved 35 to 40 unit members. According to The Early County News, Early County was chosen as the coordinating site, in part, because the battalion’s Operations Sergeant Major Charles Burns has relatives in Early County.
CPT Hazumu Yano, SFC Brandon Walker and SSG Luis Nerys did an evaluation of Grady County’s solid waste program and issues facing the county regarding solid waste last week.
On Friday morning, the Battalion members briefed Grady County officials on their findings and presented a list of possible solutions.
The servicemen were quick to note they are not “experts” on making solutions to problems, but they do help facilitate local solutions to local problems.
The team visited eight of Grady County’s dumpster sites and determined that illegal dumping is prevalent here.
Having unmanned and unregulated disposal sites, according to the team, enables illegal dumping and dumpster diving, which leads to trash hoarding at yard sales and thrift shops.
During the review conducted last week, the team observed that signage at the disposal sites is lacking and that the ground conditions at most sites made them difficult to traverse in inclement weather.
In the observation of the battalion members, the county’s code enforcement department has limited manpower to enforce a county ordinance regulating illegal dumping.
In their recommendation presented Friday, the team suggested the creation of a local committee to develop a comprehensive solution and to engage a lawyer to review the wording of ordinances and develop a game plan to enforce the county ordinances.
Possible solutions the team shared with county leaders included: hiring additional code enforcement staff to enforce ordinances; consolidate the number of dump sites; perform a bulky item pickup at designated locations on a recurring schedule; conduct a community campaign to clean up dump sites; launch an ad campaign to inform the public of proper waste disposal; install security cameras at disposal sites; and create additional manned disposal sites.
“We appreciate the Army looking into our solid waste program and the issues we face. A lot we have discussed before, but some new ideas were shared. For example, by limiting yard sales by county ordinance we can cut down on the hoarding of trash on private property. That is something I think we can take a look at,” Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar said this week.
Tobar said he is also going to pull together a team including County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley, Chief Magistrate Pat Pollock, Code Enforcement Officer Larry Ivy, Road Superintendent Stanley Elkins and community representatives in addition to himself to develop a strategy and bring back recommendations to the board of commissioners.
Tobar also indicated he would be finalizing a grant application to the Army for its assistance with earthwork needed for the proposed full-depth reclamation of Old 179 North.
The 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) is a civil affairs battalion of the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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