Time spent protecting trash wasted

Freedom New Mexico

You know government’s out of control when it tries to control stuff people don’t want anymore.

That’s what’s going on in Melrose.

The village of 750 people about 25 miles west of Clovis made headlines this month when a resident was confronted for dumpster diving.

Ted Stretmoyer, a retired federal worker who’s lived in Melrose about 10 years, has been rummaging through village trash bins and donating useful finds to charity.

Two village council members are bothered by Stretmoyer’s actions and threatening to create an ordinance prohibiting them. Council members Jewel Hill and Tuck Monk say they are concerned about Stretmoyer’s safety and the community’s security.

We understand treasure hunting can be dangerous. And we all should be aware of identity theft and take precautions so that we won’t be victims.

But government cannot save us from ourselves. And it should not prevent us from helping others.

Stretmoyer said he’s made a hobby of looking through trash in search of unopened food commodities, gently used clothing and anything else he can find to give to the less fortunate.

He said he wears rubber gloves under work gloves as a precautionary measure in case he encounters hypodermic needles or other hazardous materials in the dumpsters.

Village authorities have come to realize they cannot stop Stretmoyer from dumpster diving, at least not now. But Monk, a candidate for mayor in the March 2 election, told a reporter he expects an ordinance will be coming soon to prevent the practice.

Seems to us community leaders might serve residents better by encouraging charitable donations rather than outlawing efforts to help others.

Alas, Melrose is not the only area community whose leaders have time to address such nonsense.

Clovis approved an ordinance in 2007 that prohibits tampering with garbage that’s been placed in dumpsters or poly carts. Violators face $500 fines and 90 days in jail.

Won’t we feel safer once all those aluminum can collectors are behind bars?