The Kern County sheriff joined county waste officials on the road to Bena Landfill Tuesday to announce that negligent trash haulers will receive fines of up to $1,000 and free tarpaulins as part of a program begun in October.
"These are $1,000 tarps, so if you want one, we can help you out," joked Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood in a press conference on Edison Highway east of Bakersfield. "This is really about beautifying our county. We really want to ask the public to partner with us and don't throw your trash out. Go to the dump."
That's the message to illegal dumpers and careless trash haulers with uncovered loads.
"This code basically says the untarped load is a misdemeanor. That's where it's at," Kern County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Kevin Zimmermann said, citing county ordinances and pronouncing Highway 58 "one of our primary targets, but there are definitely some other areas in the county that deserve our attention."
A group of about seven Kern County Sheriff's deputies working overtime began writing misdemeanor and infraction tickets to motorists late last month.
Their pay is funded by one of two one-time Kern Council of Government grants of $100,000 each.
Tuesday's press conference, on a stretch of highway flanked by orange trees, was the official rollout of a program that also includes trash pickup by minimum-security Kern County Jail inmates, begun in June and paid by a second Kern COG $100,000 grant.
The Sheriff's Office's focus on trash is mirrored by Kern County Waste Management Department officials, who provided 500 50-square-foot tarps for deputies to distribute, and are considering renting billboards countywide in January or February to warn against littering.