Oct. 6, 2003 – In two weeks, St. Thomas should have four newly trained anti-litter enforcement officers on the job making sure that people obey the territory's solid and hazardous waste laws — and citing them if they don't.
Monday was their first day of training, John Green, Public Works Department senior solid waste coordinator, said at a press conference on St. Thomas.
The Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission and Public Works have partnered to create the program utilizing a $300,000 grant from the ALBC.
The enforcement officers will work in pairs, and they will start out dealing with businesses — "anybody that takes items to the landfill," Green said, to "bring them into compliance." They also will cite individuals who commit ongoing litter-law violations, he said.
While they can issue citations, they cannot make arrests. Examples of violations they will be on the lookout for include loaded dump trucks that do not have covering on the top to prevent particles from flying out, persons throwing trash from their windows, and businesses not using the proper receptacles for trash or using government trash bins. The citations carry fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second and $500 for the third.
Green said two new four-wheel-drive vehicles have been ordered for the officers' use and are expected to arrive on island by the time training is completed. The vehicles will not be driven home, he said.
Roy Estrill, one of those undergoing training, said a part of what they are learning is about how "to educate the community."
Another trainee, Haytheline Thomas, said she is enthusiastic about becoming an anti-litter officer. Compared to her previous position as an office receptionist, "this job is way better," she said. "I will be on the road, rather than answering phones."
Estrill said the enforcement effort is needed on St. Thomas because tourism is the main industry. "We have to try to keep our islands clean so visitors can come back," he said.
St. Croix has had four anti-litter enforcement officers for two years now, and St. John has two. Green said he believes the program has been very successful.
According to Cordell Jacobs, ALBC executive director, the funding has been place for more than a year to implement the litter-law enforcement program on St. Thomas. He said it took a long time to get through government procedures such as hiring staff, setting up an account for the grant funds and arranging to get checks signed.
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