State cleanup program offers helping hand
When Fred Blancett bought property at 15909 Dempsey Road, north of Basehor, he had no idea how much work it would be to clean it up.
"The previous owner allowed people to come in and dump material," Blancett said. "I cleared about 10 tons of trash, but I needed some help."
After writing a letter to Leavenworth County asking if officials could help him in any way, Blancett learned about a program operated and partially funded by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that helps clean up illegal dump sites.
KDHE assesses the dump and determines if it is a public nuisance or a health and environmental hazard before clean up begins. KDHE also uses the state's solid waste management fund to finance 75 percent of the clean up. The county must agree to fund the other 25 percent through labor and the use of machinery.
Tom Olson, of the Leavenworth County planning and zoning department, said the deep ravine on the property was full of trash and other waste, making it not only a difficult area to clean up, but also a health hazard because of runoff.
"We brought in big trash containers, loaded them up and hauled them off," he said. "We pulled something like 40 tires out of the ditch and put chains around old washers and dryers that were half-buried to dig them up."
A prison crew from the Lansing Correctional Facility along with Blancett walked along the property picking up other items. Altogether, Blancett, the prisoner crew and County Transfer Station workers hauled off almost 65 tons of waste from the property.
Blancett, who lives on the land with his wife and son, said the cleanup has allowed him to finally start construction of his new home. He said he was thankful for the program and commended the county's effort.
"It's now better for us and it eliminated an eyesore for the neighbors as well," Blancett said.