Discarded revolver found during FOX 2 report on illegal dumping

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A FOX 2 crew had a frightening surprise while working on a follow-up report about illegal dumping in north St. Louis County—a partially buried revolver.

FOX 2’s Andy Banker was demonstrating on camera just how dramatic the change has been on Spring Garden Drive one week after our report on a half-mile stretch of the roadside that looked more like a garbage dump. A Riverview public works crew had cleaned up most of the mess after our report last week.

Andy felt something under his foot. It turned out to be a gun, which was turned over to Riverview police.

It was another testament to what area residents and Riverview Mayor Mike Cornell have been saying for years: illegal dumping is dangerous.

“It’s becoming a public nuisance, hazardous, and unsafe to everyone at this point,” Cornell said prior to the gun discovery.

When you clean up one spot in Riverview, the dumping continues in another, he said.

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FOX 2 first highlighted the problem on Stimson Drive in April 2022.

Last week, it was Spring Garden Drive.

Now, the biggest mess is on Scranton Avenue. There are old mattresses and furniture, plus long stretches of garbage bags packed tight with trash elsewhere and dumped just along the avenue.

“As soon as they dump it, we pick it up, and it’s back down there,” Cornell said. “The minute we want to go to a building project or filling potholes, we have to revert and pick up the trash… it’s just the awareness to say, ‘Hey, you cannot do this. We’re watching. We’re paying attention and when you’re caught, you will be held accountable.’”

The city has enacted an ordinance boosting fines for dumping from $500 minimum up to $1,000.

New warning signs are posted. The Riverview public works staff has doubled from two to four to keep up with illegal dumping.

The mayor is seeking state grants to add surveillance cameras.

The city is allowing people to use a large industrial dumpster at city hall if they’re struggling with garbage bills, but there will be zero tolerance for any more dumping on the side of the road.

“We hired on an additional two public works employees. We’re going to be doing a massive cleanup to combat overgrown weeds, brush, trash, and debris, as you can see. We will be doing this until April 2024,” Cornell said. “I think now the ordinance will send out a direct message: ‘Hey, we mean business here.’ It has to stop.”

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