Probe: April 11, 2001

April 11, 2001

QUESTION: When I drive along country roads in Imperial County, I am disgusted by the unsightly tires strewn all over the county.

Why doesn't the county pick up the tires? If it doesn't have the manpower to do it, I'm sure we could organize volunteers to remove them from the roadways. — Neatnik, Brawley

Once you pick them up, what would you do with them? Pile them in a heap in the middle of a field?

Perhaps we could all put up an old tire swing in the back yard. Unfortunately, there's not enough trees or back yards to accommodate the tires.


County Public Works Director Tim Jones estimated there are 140,000 tires littering county roads. That's about one tire for every resident.

Last year the county received a $20,000 state grant to dispose of discarded tires. It picked up 50,000 tires but it barely dented the mess. One Southwest High student also organized a tire pickup plan last year and he collected thousands upon thousands of discarded tires.

Once you pick up the tires, you have to do something with them. But what? Last year the county shredded some into bits for recycling into paving asphalt. The rest were cut into chunks for burying in dumps.

Why do decent folks who wouldn't throw a paper cup or tissue out the car window toss old tires along the roads?

Because it is expensive to get rid of old tires. Instead of paying to leave the tires at the tire shop after replacement, consumers often choose to keep the tires and drop them off one by one along the roads.

There is a solution. Sometime this summer a new law will add a surcharge to the price of new tires to pay for the disposal of the old tires, Jones said.

HOW ABOUT AMNESTY? — Will the county hold an amnesty so people can bring in their old tires for disposal when we clean our back yards? — Spring Cleaner, Holtville

Jones said he may schedule an amnesty day for old tires in April and a tire collection day in May. But he said he doesn't want 140,000 or even 50,000 tires.

"We'll take the tires people have in their back yards," he said.

He is hoping for another state grant but $20,000 won't process many tires, he said. It costs about $2.50 to dispose of a tire.

REJOICE FOR THE RETURNED — The man who found my purse was right! I was hysterical when I noticed I had lost it.

My whole life was in that purse. It makes me feel great to know there are some good people left in this world. Please pass on my thanks! — Restored, El Centro

Several people helped return your purse. When our reader discovered the purse in the El Centro Wal-Mart parking lot, he handed it to a security guard and walked with the guard to the store.

The security guard left the purse on the store's "return" desk. Another employee found the purse owner's name and phone number in the purse and called her house. By then the owner was already on her way back to search the parking lot.

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