The Ector County Environmental Enforcement Department just got a boost with the delivery of a big $266,938 Peterbilt grapple truck that’ll enable the removal of a lot more of the heavier trash like couches and mattresses.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Gardner, whose western jurisdiction has been particularly plagued by rampant illegal dumping, says remediation crewmen Gilbert Maltos and John Navarro can now tackle the long-problematic sites where the bulky items have piled up.
Noting that the truck was bought from Rush Truck Center with money from the 1.25-cent sales tax OK’d by voters in November 2018, Gardner said, “We will also be able to move around the 10 Dumpsters that were paid for by fines because this truck can lift up to 7,800 pounds.
“It will keep the men from handling the materials and they will make fewer trips to the Republic Services Charter Landfill on the south side of I-20 near Moss Avenue,” Gardner said. “It’ll hold 10 times as much as the truck they’ve been using. We pay $32 a ton at the landfill. It would cost somebody $150 to dump a mattress, but we can do it in-house for $15 or $20. It’s a tremendous piece of equipment. We have left a lot of stuff in place that we can now move.”
The truck’s grapple and other special equipment were installed by the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Heil Truck Equipment Group.
Gardner has scheduled a Precinct 1 town hall meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. July 8 at the sheriff’s sub-station at Kellus Turner Park at 2230 Sycamore Dr.
During budget hearings that will start in early August, the commissioner said, he hopes to secure the financing for two more regular trucks, 30-40 roll-off bins and two or three more remediation workers.
The clean-up campaign is also in progress in Precinct 2, including the Gardendale area, and Precinct 4’s south county jurisdiction.
Environmental Enforcement Director Rickey George said the average couch weighs 200 pounds and the grapple truck can lift four couches at a time. “There are so many illegal dumping sites that have been there for years,” George said.
“Now we have the equipment to get in there and do clean-ups at the sites where we didn’t catch the bad guys. With this truck, the remediation guys can do in about two minutes what it had been taking them an hour to do. These sites attract more trash if they’re not cleaned up. They also attract mice, rats and snakes, so there is lots of potential to get hurt if guys go in there with their hands.”