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Health concerns at Wedgewood, Olive Heights, and Rolling Hills communities

Dozens of residents from Wedgewood, Olive Heights, and Rolling Hills communities came to the Escambia County Commission meeting to voice their concerns. They say, the pits are not only  a nuisance, but are causing some health problems.  It was during the public forum portion of the county commission meeting where several residents, decked out in orange to show unity, stood in front of commissioners, wanting answers. Among them was LaFanette Woods. She says these pits are making residents sick.

"The smell is killing us. The air, if you go outside, it just burns your eyes. It's really bad. We just need some relief," said Woods. 

    Her complaints were echoed among others. Willie Lawrence says he's suffering from respiratory probelms. He says because of the dust and smell,  people are moving out of the neighborhood and children are not playing outside.

"You hear me talking, I'm getting clogged up because of all that contamination," he said. 

    There are several trash pits surrounding Wedgewood, and plans to build another united neighbors. That landfill won't be built until there's a public hearing in July. But residents say the problem goes much further. They want to close up all the pits.

"How in the world can they do stuff like this? You know, what they're actually doing is raping the land," said Lawrence. 

    Commissioner Lumon May made a promise to fight this with the residents. Water quality tests were done, and contaminants were found in the ground water. The main concern is air quality. Commissioner May is pushing to get that done soon.

"We want them to feel our pain. We want them to take care of it," said Woods. 
    Commissioner Gene Valentino made a recommendation to have the board review current pit ordinances and make sure the Department of Environmental Protection regulates these pits.