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Carrion, waste, and chain gangs

Posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 7:55 am


At any given point, a driver is bound to see a dead animal on the side of the road. The necessary – albeit morbid – question is what happens to those animals if they are not simply left to the elements of decomposition?

For Bedford County’s Highway Department, they use a private vendor to remove large animals, such as cattle and horses.

The all-too-common sight of a dead deer, however, is not remedied by the local highway department. Instead, they are left to the elements or taken care of by the Tennessee Department of Transportation which has a service for their highways, according to Clanton.

And as for dogs, TDOT may also take care of them but Clanton said the Bedford County Animal Control also has a method of removal. BCAC Director Josie Lowery said if they receive a call about dead animals, they usually go out and scan for a microchip. If the carcass is obstructing a road, they will pull it off the roadway.

It’s a gruesome task, but nevertheless necessary. Once removed, animals are taken to disposal sites.

‘Nobody trashes Tennessee’

Trash pickup crews are also being used to keep roads as clear as possible. According to Clanton, two crews of inmates, making up about six to eight men, run through the county to pick up road litter from Monday to Thursday.

But despite the effort, Clanton says it’s an uphill battle.

“Once the litter crews go out, by the time they get one road picked up, by the time you circle back through it, it looks like they’ve never been through there,” said Clanton. “We have a terrible litter problem here as does everybody else around us.”

According to Jail Administrator Ronald Prince, in order to work in the trash pickup crew, an inmate cannot be a violent crimes offender, sex offender, have escape risks, a history of brining in contraband into a facility, medical issues, and anyone with pending holds. Policy also requires that anyone with a sentence lasting longer than three years cannot go pick up trash.

“They love it, though. Anytime they can go outside, they’ll be more than glad to go pick up trash. They get credits off of their sentences so they benefit from that also,” said Prince. “It’s beneficial to the county also because it saves the county money.”

Supervisors over the litter crew attend a yearly training class required by the state to go over how to efficiently run one of these “chain gangs.”

“It pretty much runs itself. We just have to pick the right candidates to go out there,” said Prince.

Clanton added, “We have 685 miles of road and trying to cover all those roads to keep them clean, there’s basically no humanly way possible.”

So to help with the issue, Clanton emphasizes hanging on to your trash, packing it away in bags and taking it to convenience centers or to your trash bin if you live in the city limits.

Landfill space

But where does all that trash go?

The closest landfill to Bedford County is the one in Rutherford County, which is increasingly running out of space. Bedford, however, disposes trash at the landfill in Marshall County.

But they are facing issues with the availability of landfill space – or lack thereof, according to Solid Waste coordinator Diane Forbes who brought the issue up at the last Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Clanton said, “We don’t really have a long-range plan on Bedford County’s end. We are a member of the Interlocal Solid Waste Authority, which is a group of seven counties and two cities. But somewhere down the line, with the landfill loss space, it will be a problem in the future.”

He said it will most likely have to be addressed in the next 10 years.

“I’m already working on some stuff with Diane. We’re trying some future things five years out. Pretty much everybody in the state is having to look to the future at what they can and can’t do.

“Trash is one thing that’s never going away. You have to find a way to dispose of it.”

As for the county’s convenience centers, Clanton said Bedford is “ahead of the game’ compared to other counties.

“We have more convenience centers than everybody around us except for Rutherford County. We have more drop off hours than just about everybody around. Our centers are open almost 15 to 20 hours more than Rutherford County.” Three of these centers are full-time centers.

List of convenience centers:

  • Tollgate, 1099 Highway 82 South, Shelbyville. Open Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Wartrace, 1055 Smart St., Wartrace. Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Unionville, 3380 U.S. 41A North, Unionville. Open Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Bell Buckle, 115 Peacock St., Bell Buckle. Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • WBTS, 2022 State Route 64 West, Shelbyville. Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • El Bethel, 1760 U.S. 41A North, Shelbyville. Open Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Deason, 3097 Unionville-Deason Road, Shelbyville. Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Normandy, 100 Normandy Road, Shelbyville. Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Tire Collection Center, 816 State Route 82 South, Shelbyville. Open Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Call the Solid Waste Department at 931-684-4651 for more information.