A St. Anthony man received the maximum fine allowable for illegally dumping 32 bags of trash into a Dubois County waterway.
The Dubois County Commissioners decided to fine Blake Merter of St. Anthony the maximum fine of $1,000 for the dumping and added $375.22 to cover the cost of the county resources used to clean it up.
According to Carla Striegel-Winner, director of the Dubois County Solid Waste District, Merter would have had to pay $32 to the waste district to dispose of the trash bags. Since a portion of the trash was recyclable, the cost could have been less since the county doesn’t charge for taking in recyclables.
The $32 disposal fee was included in the total Merter was fined.
The incident began on August 6 when a resident reported a trash dump along Huntingburg’s First Street near Bruner Creek. When Deputy Tim Lampert responded to the area, he noted it was a large dump and the trash was in the creek. With the recent rain though, Bruner Creek’s water level was up and the trash had been pushed downstream.
The next day, Striegel-Winner, her husband Jamie Winner and two conservation officers launched kayaks and canoes into the Patoka River along Highway 64 and paddled upstream pulling bags of trash from the waterway from the dump that occurred along First Street.
“People don’t realize this is a navigable waterway,” Striegel-Winner said. “Bruner empties into Hunley and Hunley empties into the Patoka River which is a water source for downstream communities.”
This area is a prime dumping spot, Striegel-Winner added.
The four spent four hours collecting the trash bags filled with personal items, diapers and recyclables that they found as they made their way upstream to the site. The next day, Dubois County Solid Waste employees collected the bags from the banks of the waterways.
Conservation officers were able to determine the bags belonged to Merter due to his name being found on pieces of mail and other items inside all the bags dumped. According to Lampert, when he spoke with Merter, the St. Anthony man admitted to dumping the trash.
In trash court Monday, Merter apologized for his actions.