Harold Heffner isn’t the complaining type, he says. But he has his limits, and a few local slobs have been pushing his.
A frustrated Heffner and his wife, Elaine, appeared at Wilson Borough Council meeting Monday night to voice their disgust with an ongoing trash problem in the alley (Filbert Street) behind their house in the 1600 block of Butler Street.
“I’m really getting tired of picking up everyone else’s garbage,” he told council members.
At 77, with his blue Team Lowes Racing jacket, US Navy Veteran hat and white little pony tail, he cuts a colorful figure, and council members seemed to listen intently, shaking their heads along with him.
The problem, about 150 feet down the alley from his property, is ongoing, but lately things have been getting extreme, he said.
“People are putting trash out there every day – the whole neighborhood [does it],” he said.
This week, three mattresses, two sofas and other junk lay heaped on the pile, in addition to dozens of loose, uncontained small bags of garbage set out throughout the week. (According to borough ordinance, garbage may only be placed outside one day a week and must be kept in containers with lids.)
Not all Wilson residents are unhappy with the pile. Heffner says the trash heap has been a bonanza for all manner of stray cats and wildlife, including a smelly skunk.
“There was a raccoon on my roof,” Heffner explained to borough council, presenting several photographs. “And I caught two baby possums.”
He took the possums to a wildlife rescue in the Poconos.
The pile is too big for Wilson’s sanitation service, Waste Management, to simply pick up without a special arrangement, according to Paul Corriere, Wilson’s zoning director, who says he sympathizes with Heffner.
Corriere says there remains a dispute about who exactly is creating the mess. One thing is not disputed, according to several officials: Once the parties responsible are identified, they will be sent a bill for cleanup.
But Corriere says the troubling trash pile on Filbert Street is just one front in a seemingly endless war against people who seem to have no pride of place.
“It’s an ongoing battle with the lack of responsibility of some people,” says Corriere, who showed Easton Patch a thick file of photographs of trash messes around the borough.
For Heffner, it’s about human dignity holding the line against the forces of squalor.
“I’ve been living in this neighborhood for twenty-two years," he said, "and I don’t want to see it deteriorate any more."