“This creek is a mess,” Brendett Miles of Lilesville says with a frustrated sigh as she looks over the deep creek bed near her home that has been covered with household trash items, like detergent bottles, clothes, hangers, brooms and mops, even a makeup kit.
The creek, on South Railroad Street, is town property but backs up to Miles’ property next door. She said she suspects that most of the trash is coming from a nearby trailer park but cannot prove it.
“What worries me is that it could be an environmental issue,” Miles said. “I wonder if this is going into someone’s well water. And if it is, that’s a problem.”
Miles said she has talked to the Environmental Protection Agency and to the county, and they all said it was a town issue. In Miles’ words, “The town of Lilesville won’t do anything.”
But Town Clerk Lynn Whitlock and Police Chief Bobby Gallimore said that their hands are tied in this situation. “Our guys go down there on a regular basis,” Whitlock said. “She does call and I send our guys but people just keep dumping stuff down there.”
She said town workers have gone to the site with a back hoe, but it can only do so much. “It’s nothing that we’re ignoring,” she stressed. “We have to catch them actually doing it to be able to fine them.”
Chief Gallimore said that he and his officers have gone through the trash dumped in to the creek to find names or addresses but have been unsuccessful so far. “We have to physically see the person dumping it,” he explained. “We would have to set up some kind of surveillance equipment to catch them, and we don’t have the ability or the funds to do that, unfortunately.”
Whitlock said that as for cleaning up the site, it would take heavy equipment to properly clean out all the trash, since the gully is so deep. She said the town may use some of the equipment from its water and sewer project that starts in January to clean up the creek.
Until then, Gallimore said, “If I see it, it’s littering.” According to North Carolina’s general statutes, littering can carry up to a $2,000 fine and up to 12 hours of community service.