By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

There's been a bit of a mystery unfolding as I drive the country road roads to and from work.

You see, the ditch-dumping trash demons have been out, apparently working under cover of darkness.

Here and there, a number of items -- kitty litter pails, exercise equipment, mattress and springs -- have been unceremoniously tossed into ditches.

At one location, it was apparent that at least two ditch-dumpers were operating in tandem, as identical items were tossed into either side of a county road.

From all appearances, it looked as if someone drove their trash-filled truck out into the county, parked in the middle of the road and people tossed out stuff from both sides.

I'm no law enforcement type of person, but I'd call that conspiracy to litter. Surely there's a much higher fine for that.

But it's no less heinous than the person who stopped by the little ditch around the corner and dropped off a couple bags of trash, the kitty litter bucket and the exercise equipment.

To put it mildly, these people irk me to no end.

Presuming they came out from Hays, one drove more than 6 miles and the other -- the two-step dumper -- drove at last 3 miles.

The Ellis County landfill is located about a mile north of the city of Hays and maintains a reasonable set of hours.

While the prices are relatively steep -- is you've got a fair amount of waste -- these offenders would probably only see the minimum price. That's only $8.

To be sure, the person with the two bag, kitty litter and exercise equipment, would have fit in that category. The other dumper might have been forced to pay as much as $10.

But hey, it looks like they dumped off worn out stuff that might have been replaced with new stuff, such as a bed.

Let's face it, if they can afford a new bed, they can afford the $10 charge they might face to properly dispose of their cast-offs.

But no, that would be logical.

What's mysterious, however, and I'm sure you've all been wondering that, is that the debris vanished as quickly and as quietly as it appeared.

I'd like to think that perhaps, just maybe, these offenders, these ne'er-do-wells might have had a change of heart, rushing back out, again under cover of darkness and load their trash back up and dispose of it properly.

I didn't stick around in dreamland very long, as I suspect instead that Ellis County road and bridge department loaded it all up and disposed of it as it should have been in the first place.

For that, I'm eternally grateful. As we all should be.

The environment-wreckers, however, should hang their head in shame.