OAK GROVE HEIGHTS, AR (KAIT) – Officials in Oak Grove Heights in Greene County told Region 8 News Tuesday they plan to clean up garbage evidently thrown into the city's burn pit. According to Mayor Ed Smith, a large brush pile is on the back side of the city's property where the city park is located. Behind the brush pile are several bags of trash, a few feet away from a nearby stream.
"This is new to me. I haven't seen it before. I was shocked when you told me that," said Smith. "It shouldn't be here. This trash is not supposed to be here. We provide dumpsters all over town. People are supposed to pay for their trash collection. Over the past few years, I have seen several come down to dump stuff into our dumpsters that we provide to the community center and city hall."
Smith said he didn't know about the trash until Region 8 News pointed out the situation. An anonymous viewer sent pictures through the mail to Region 8 News. The pictures depicted multiple trash bags near a mound of dirt behind a brush pile.
"I really appreciate KAIT bringing this to our attention and I hate to say, but it's sad when they have to bring it, some other agency has to bring it to your attention. I should be on top of it," said Smith. "For the people I apologize that, but this has happened. These bags and everything, over the past couple of weeks or week anyway, and it will be taken care of and cleaned up."
Smith told Region 8 News he would take care of the garbage. He said city employees will be asked to clean up the trash in the next few days. Smith said he was not aware of the trash, citing the location is only used for burning storm debris.
"I'm going to make our city people aware of it, the parks and public works people. We'll get this cleaned up within a few days," said Smith. "I'm going to make the law enforcement agencies, our small department, one officer, make him aware when he's here two, three days a week part time and then the sheriff's deputies."
Smith, who has been mayor off and on for the last decade, said the city park is roughly seven years old. He said several local residents use the park on a daily basis.
"It aggravates me. People should take more concern and have more pride in themselves and their homes and everything else. We're kind of proud of our park," said Smith.
Region 8 News attempted to interview several residents on camera. While no one accepted an on camera interview, a majority of them said the city should clean the garbage.
"This seems to be a favorite spot now and we're not going to allow that," said Smith. "They try to take advantage of not having to pay their own bill and we have confronted a few of them. They've stopped, but it's an ongoing process."
Smith said he's not sure who would toss garbage near the burn pit.
"We provide bags for the community center to put the trash in, dumpsters to put the trash in, but I don't believe that's the case here. I think these are, and it could be picnic people. I see paper plates, and plastic cups and two liter bottles," said Smith. "It's hard to tell. A whole bunch of paper plates are lying around so we'll just have to keep a closer watch on it."