Eyesores: Banks of the Black River - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Eyesores: Banks of the Black River

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS/KAIT) - Years of river dumping have Brenda Powell fed up.

"I am tired of people dumping their trash," Powell said. "I live three miles down river. Every so often, when the water comes back up, it washes it, and it falls on me, on my bank, and I've got to clean it up."

Brenda Powell isn't the only one worried about this well known dump site. Rowdy Boyer and his son Dakota joined Powell on a cold and snowy morning to tell me what they've found out here.

"There's couches, there's clothing," Dakota pointed out as we talked. "There's even ladies' underwear laying down there. It's nasty. I've seen people swimming in this. I used to swim in it until I started finding stuff like that. I don't even want to be around the river."

As we talk, the elder Boyer squats down to show me what he does to try and get people to stop.

"You sift through enough of it, you'll find a name, an address," Rusty said, his hands full of discarded paper. "A lot of times I've found, I've even found W-2 forms of people, and their Social Security number. I mean for one thing, you're throwing your private stuff out here for everyone to dig through. Somebody threw somebody's child's homework out not thinking that that name can be traced. You can find out what grade they're in, the whole nine yards."

With Rusty's help, I made my way down to the river's edge to see the garbage and furniture for myself. I found a baby stroller with a shoe stuck in the ground next to it. There looked to be a dead animal carcass actually in the river. I made my way across the pile to a toilet seat, some children's coloring books, and a couple pieces of furniture. But, even when you do find a piece of mail or something with a name and address on it, unless someone sees that person dumping, there's really not much law enforcement can do about it.

"Usually when I find somebody, I turn it over to the DNR," said Powell. "And they always investigate stuff. But they always tell me there's not enough evidence to prove it that they dumped it. So, we're back to square one."

Those maybe not brave enough to dump so close to town drive just a little farther down Ashcroft Road to private church property along the river.

"We no more get it cleaned up and then it seems like a night or two will pass and then you'll find something like this laying out here again," Rusty Boyer said as we walked alongside another dump site. "And this will just be in different spots all down through this property, which is owned by the Lord's Chapel Church", says Boyer. "Of course, we try to keep it cleaned up. And here's where people come. They like to fish. But obviously, after a while it just becomes a great big mess. And who would want to bring their kids out here?"

But, these residents aren't just talking trash with us. Powell recently took her concerns to the Poplar Bluff City Council.  I found Mayor Tracy Edington eager to take action.

"Hopefully, Mr. Bagby and the council, maybe we'll have a few surprises for people that are dumping on that area down south of town," Edington said.

"It's got to be heart-breaking when you see this beautiful river and then you come along and you see people's furniture and garbage in it," I said to Brenda Powell.

"It is horrible," Powell responded. "It just makes me sick every time. Right now, it's too cold. But as soon as it warms up, we intend to clean it up, get some cameras going and hopefully catch some people dumping."

After shooting our story, I talked to Renee Bungart with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. After I sent Bungart Brenda Powell's picture, she sent down a staff member to take more pictures.

Bungart also says "No Dumping" signs should be up soon.

We will let you know when Powell plans her spring clean up of the site.

In the meantime, you can report environmental concerns, like dumping, to DNR on their website.

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