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County considers cameras to crack down on dumping in parks

Taylor County is hoping that an ounce of surveillance will help avoid a pound of headaches with continued improper use of county park dumpsters.

County buildings and grounds director Joe Svejda told committee members on November 16 that the county continues to have people improperly dumping items in some of the park trash containers. He said most recently they had someone leave a freezer in the dumpster, resulting not only in additional garbage collection fees, but additional costs due to the freon in the freezer.

Svejda said the issue is at its worst in the spring and fall when people are either doing spring cleaning or closing up their cabins and getting rid of items before winter. He said that of the 10 county parks, only about six of them have regular issues with people misusing the trash containers.

“It has been a forever problem,” Svejda said, noting that they want to monitor it without going over the top.

Svejda suggested setting up monitoring of trouble spots using trail cameras may be a solution. He said he has looked into them and noted that prices have continued to drop making them a reasonable choice. He noted there are options for cameras that are wireless and can send live images as they happen or ones that save to a card that staff could retrieve as they do regular park checks. He estimated that for between $150 and $200 the county could get a good camera system. However, he also noted that lowcost models available at around $30 each would work just as well for how they want to use them.

“It is not that big of an investment and would save us in the long run,” Svejda said, noting that at that amount of investment there would be less worry about the cameras themselves being stolen or damaged.

Committee members supported having Svejda continue to look into monitoring options as a way to reduce improper use of the dumpsters.

Svejda also updated committee members on the shifting that is taking place as departments move storage items into the newly purchased Bauer property buildings to the northeast of the Fairgrounds. He described how the buildings are being used as being fluid and said he has told other departments how they have it arranged may change as they work to best utilize the additional cold storage space to meet needs. He noted that one advantage of additional cold storage is to clear space in the existing maintenance shop building to allow it to be used as a shop to work on equipment rather than just storage. He noted the current building used by the maintenance department, forestry department and sheriff’s department is an insulated steel structure and sought the committee’s support to look at what it would take to get a gas line to install garage heaters and a trench drain in the floor. He said even allowing minimal heat would save his staff time in warming up or scraping ice from the county vehicles in the mornings. “Just enough so the trucks are thawed every day,” he said.

“Can we fit this in our budget?” asked committee member Rod Adams.

Svejda said he has spoken with forest administrator Jake Walcisak since the two departments will continue to share use of the building about the possibility of sharing in upgrade costs.

Committee member Jim Gebauer noted that there will be other things that come up as they make changes to the building, so that they need to be aware it could not be as inexpensive a proposition as Svejda thinks it could be.

Committee members supported Svejda continuing to move forward with ideas to improve the maintenance shop space.

In other business, committee members:

  Approved replacing custodian Art Klimpke who alerted the county of his plans to retire as of January 4. “We are losing a good employee,” Svejda said, while noting it also opens the door to doing new things. He noted that Klimpke’s main work area is in the sheriff’s department and jail and is a second shift position. Svejda said a goal would be to have staff familiar with working in all the buildings in case there was a need to fill in when there were vacancies. In related action, committee members approved the updated job description for the position which had been unchanged since 1996.

  Received an update on the potential project to replace a boat landing at Miller Dam. Svejda said that he got skittish with the project about spending $10,000 for an engineering survey when the estimated total cost of the project is estimated to be about $200,000. “I got a little gun shy,” he said, noting that he wanted to ensure that the engineer was giving a fair price so he contacted a second engineer to get a price quote and while he noted they broke their costs down differently, in the end they were similar in price.