The Brown County Solid Waste District collected about 4,500 tires May 20 and 21, during the annual tire pick-up day and tire amnesty drop-off.

Statistically speaking, that’s just over one tire for every three of Brown County’s approximately 12,000 adult residents.

Solid waste district Director Phil Stephens called the total “staggering.”

During the two-day event in 2015, the solid waste district collected about 2,600 tires.

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“That tells me that Brown County is a flat-out dumping ground for south-central Indiana,” Stephens said.

Stephens suspects some of the larger caches of tires may come from repair shops operating informally on private property around the county.

In addition to employees from the solid waste district and county health department, almost 30 Cummins volunteers assisted with tire pick-up day, with about half working the morning and half working the afternoon.

The volunteers brought their personal trucks and trailers to help.

Ed Hodzen, a Cummins engineer who lives in Columbus but owns property in Brown County, said he wanted to remove tires because they are an eyesore and also a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“And, I had a truck and trailer, so I figured I could be useful,” he said.

For the health department, garbage dumps in general — and specifically old tires — are a concern because they offer a place for vermin to breed and hide, environmental health specialist April Reeves said.

Bart Gauk, owner of T&T Tire removal Milan who hauled away the tires, said all of the tires are processed for other uses. Examples he gave are the rubber bases on traffic barrels, which are made by cutting the sidewalls out of tires.

Once steel is removed, tires also can be shredded to create a mulch that may either be used in landscaping or as fill in various types of construction, he said.

There are numerous other uses for the tires, whether fully processed or repurposed, but none of them go back into a landfill, he said.

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Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.