County sees Sabine-Neches group as good value

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : March 17, 2017

By Becca Morin
Monitor Correspondent
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners appointed Fire Marshal Shane Renberg as the second representative for their involvement within the Sabine-Neches Resource Conservation District. As fire marshal, Renberg deals with reports of illegal dumping in the county that need addressing. He was appointed recently as one of two county representatives on the district. “We get a lot for our membership with this organization and I recommend that we renew,” County Judge Richard Sanders said at a February commissioners’ court meeting.
The Sabine-Neches RC&D is an environmental group; a nonprofit statewide organization that is strictly volunteer based. As far as the volunteers go, they must have a love for conservation and for cleaning up the environment.
They were founded to help and promote conservation, identify and correct environmental problems and assist with rural development.
The organization’s mission is to collaborate with the representatives of eight individual counties including Henderson County to allocate the funds from individuals or companies fined by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality for improper disposal of trash, sewage, tires, pesticides, etc. Once fines have been collected, half of the fines can be distributed and used by the county and/or responsible organization to help clean whichever environmental hazard has occurred.
All eight of the counties; Van Zandt, Wood, Upshur, Henderson, Smith, Gregg, Panola and Harrison contribute dues to the organization. Previously the organization had dues which were $300 each, but with the growing cost of administration and operation, the dues were increased this year to $500.
The Sabine-Neches RC&D has contributed in many different cleanups. It used air pollution fines to help two schools in Harrison County buy new and clean diesel school buses and dispose of the broken down, polluting buses. In the last 15 years, Sabine-Neches RCD has spent about $1.8 million in TCEQ fine funds cleaning up environmental conditions in the eight counties.
In Henderson County, the current issue is the discovery of tires dumped on an elderly woman’s property. Authorities estimated around 10,000 tires were illegally dropped off. The organization is working hand-in-hand to help the county clean up the environmental hazard, because the man that purchased the property couldn’t afford to pay for the cleanup which is where the organization steps in. Once Sabine Neches RCD obtains funds, the cleanup will begin. The organization is currently removing around 30,000 tires from Harrison County as well.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to bring dollars into Henderson County to help cleanup properties that otherwise may not get cleaned up,” Renberg said. “A pile of tires, roofing shingles or what have you causes problems with water collection, mosquitos and everything else. I’ve felt we’ve been missing out, but now with my office involved, we’ll make sure that the county benefits from this volunteer organization and the funding available to it through the TCEQ. “It could also potentially help us out with tires that we pick up from the road side county wide and collect up, to have these removed by a contractor through the competitive bidding process conducted by the organization. It’s very exciting.”
District Board Director Cary Hilliard from Canton, stated, “that the commissioners of Henderson County are very nice people and [that] he appreciates their continued support for the organization,” without the support of the local counties, grants, and the fines, nonprofit organizations such as the Sabine-Neches RCD wouldn’t be able to keep their doors open.
Hilliard’s most memorable cleanup is the Household, Hazardous Waste projects which allow people to bring waste products that a certified contractor can collect and properly dispose. The district has conducted three such projects, so far. Two collection and disposal projects were conducted in Tyler, the third, in Carthage. The disposal projects cost more than $200,000, which helped prevent improper disposal of toxic materials.