Woman hired to clean blight indicted for allegedly dumping tires and trash

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A local woman contracted to clean blighted properties is facing prison time after she allegedly dumped truckloads of tires, trash, and debris near railroad tracks in South Memphis.

Vontyna Durham, 44, was indicted on a long list of charges that include aggravated criminal littering and felony vandalism. She allegedly dumped all that stuff back in October, near the 1600 block of Grimes Street.

Durham is a former Memphis Code Enforcement employee. The Shelby County District Attorney's Office says her business benefited from that dumping.

Littering in Tennessee becomes criminal if it's over 10 pounds and a person or business profits from not throwing those items away.

Felony vandalism comes into play if government cleanup exceeds $1,000. Prosecutors say Durham's dump cost more than $3,000.

In general, the area near the 1600 block of Grimes Street is a popular place to dump things.

"It ain't, it ain't nice at all," said Florence Guy, who has lived there for nearly 50 years.

"She knew that was wrong. She knew that was wrong. That's all I got to say about that," Guy says. "I mean, it's just sad. I come out. I try to keep mine down, you know, keep the trash, keep it in the garbage can."

Only the worst felony vandalism cases make it to court. Most offenders are given a chance to dispose of the trash lawfully. Either way, it's important to note that you are responsible for items dumped on your property, and it's up to you to call the city or police if it's a re-occurring thing.

As for Guy, she wants the people who litter in her area to stop.

"They ought to put it in their own neighborhood and then they'll see how it feel. That's the way I see that," she says.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation says there are more than 200 re-occurring, illegal dumpsites in Memphis.

If you witness any illegal dumping, you're asked to call 311 and file a complaint.

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