County crews remove pile of trash after calls from ABC13

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- You can smell it before you see it: a pile of trash growing by the day at a strip center at the North Beltway and Lockwood.

The tires, couches, and mattresses have frustrated Grace Ekpo and her family for months.

"I take pride in my property value going up, I want something to pass down to my children and grand babies," said Ekpo. "So, when I see this reduced to a dumping ground, nobody's doing anything, it's a slap in the face."

Ekpo and her daughter, Gjenine Galloway, said calls to the landowner and various Harris County agencies have yielded no results.

"It's disgusting, it's a bad smell, it doesn't look good, it's been a problem," said Galloway. "I've been trying to get rid of it."

On Thursday morning, a frustrated Ekpo contacted Eyewitness News. Around noon, Eyewitness News called the office of Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman.

By 1 p.m., county crews showed up to clean up the mess.

"Girl, you used your magic, Miya Shay," said a clearly elated Ekpo. "I'm glad, honey you made some phone calls and got that truck out here. I know I was upset at first, but if it takes me getting upset to get this job done, then I feel better."

While Eyewitness News may have helped in getting the mess cleaned up, county officials have been aware of the problem for a while. The Harris County Sheriff's Office has had a deputy working on the case for over a month. Deputy Mitch Bitten said he finally tracked down the landowner this week, to discuss the problem.

"He has a plan to gate this area off and do something with this," said Deputy Bitten, motioning to the dumpster. "Either leave it, or tear it down, he doesn't know yet."

Bitten said the land owner has cleaned up the area several times, but that illegal dumpers continue to return.

Meanwhile, Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen's office installed a camera in the area a few months ago. Just this week, surveillance video captured a dumper throwing away a used grill and other items. Constable Rosen is hopeful the video can help them locate the dumpers and prosecute them.

This is all good news for Ekpo. She has been working for months on the issue, and was glad to hear that law enforcement was already on the case. She hopes now dumpers will stay away, so her property values will remain stable.

"We're all working hard for the American Dream," she added.

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