A southern sunset shines over a shallow creek in south Texarkana, lighting up the soothing stance of water, trees and, unfortunately, trash people have dumped there instead of disposing of it properly.
Days Creek is five miles south of the loop on South State Line Avenue and flows from Texas into the Sulphur River in Arkansas. It also carries the treated wastewater from Texarkana Water Utilities, which has a plant just north of where a bridge crosses the creek's westerly flow.
There, mattresses, tires, couches, light bulbs, shingles, plumbing items and toys have been carelessly tossed beside and underneath the bridge.
Ken Crane, a professor at Texarkana College who also works with the Clean Rivers Program in the Sulphur River Basin, said he's been all over Bowie County and has never seen so much dumped in one site.
"I'm used to seeing tires everywhere, but I've never seen a place like this," he said Tuesday during a field trip the Friends United for a Safe Environment took to the creek to see the dump site.
"Days Creek pretty much drains all of Texarkana," he said. "You get a really, really big rain, that stuff gets buried and heads off to Arkansas. It's always changing, but is the water the best place to throw your trash?"
Bowie County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sammy Stone attended the meeting and said they see it all over the county. He also said sometimes those committing the crime of dumping get caught, thanks to the help of the public.
"We have got lucky several times," he said. "We had some residents see it and they got a license number and turned it in and they were caught."
He added that catching the perpetrators isn't easy.
"How do you catch them? How do you catch a thief?" he asked. "They dump late at night and early in the morning. Nobody knows when it's coming. It's disgusting and the people that do this kind of thing are more disgusting than the thing they threw away. That's the way I see it."
Kurt Yates, a ranger with Miller County, said they have several known dumping sites, as well.
"There are trouble spots," he said. "If it's household trash and we find an address, we can deal with it that way. And if it's a continual problem in the area, we will set up surveillance."
Officials say much of the problem is due to people not being aware of how the cities and counties deal with bulk items, including appliances, couches and mattresses.
The city of Texarkana, Ark., began the Dial-A-Truck Program last week after purchasing a new grapple truck with a large dumpster on the back. Residents can call the Public Works Department and they will come haul off items for $30 per cubic yard, equivalent to the size of a stove or mattress.
Public Works Director Tyler Richards said the truck is available two weeks out of each month, specifically Wednesdays and Fridays every other week.
"They can call in and let us know what they have, give us the measurements and we tell them at that time what it costs. They can then come in any day and pay before pick up," he said. "We felt that it was a need for the city to offer the service. It is widely used. We get calls every single day."
Residents can also haul items to Richardson Transfer Station at 2934 County Road 10 and to the Waste Management Landfill, 1030 U.S. Highway 82 West in New Boston, Texas.
Richardson has a fee, depending on the items being brought in. The New Boston Landfill, however, doesn't charge Texarkana, Texas, residents to bring bagged trash and large household items if they have a water bill showing their address within the Texas-side city limits. They also have a separate area for electronics.
Texarkana, Texas, residents can put one item per week per household by the curb at no additional cost, according to Jared Miller, the district manager at the Texarkana Waste Management site.
"That can be a couch, love seat, mattress, box spring," he said. "The fee is included in the trash rate, and there is no additional charge."
Richardson Waste: 870-653-3579
New Boston Landfill: 903-628-6595
Texarkana Waste Management: 903-794-4111
Texarkana, Ark. Public Works: 870-779-4977 or 870-779-4971
Texarkana, Texas Public Works: 903-798-3948