Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

December 22, 2012

Crisp Citizens express concerns

Cordele — For two hours Friday morning, Crisp County citizens told commissioners what they think about the garbage situation in the county. While there was no consensus of opinion about what should be done, almost everyone agreed that the present system is not working.

Several called the county dumpster sites "deplorable" and "embarrassing." Others asked questions and some offered their suggestions for improving household garbage collection. There also were comments about community pride that should make people want to keep their space clean and calls for better enforcement of penalties for littering.

Among the suggestions for making the situation better were recycling, manned dump sites that would be closed except when someone was on site to accept trash and curbside pickup with each county resident having a receptacle that is emptied weekly, probably by an outside contractor.

Jim George first brought up the recycling concept. "Why aren't we utilizing the recycling facility we have?" he asked.

Commissioner Clark Henderson explained that the county cannot restart that facility because of a default on the bonds. "We have tried to market the facility, but so far we haven't been successful." Henderson said a company is looking at taking it over now, and he hopes that will work out.

Jimmy Ray said recycling has to begin in the home. "We must separate glass, plastic, aluminum, newspapers ourselves." He suggested having an attendant at one or more of the dumpster sites to accept recyclables.

John Woodard who served on the trash task force that made proposals to the Commission in November advocates manned sites. Several other people supported that idea.

Frankie Johnson said he had lived in Florida where there were manned trash sites, and "it was one of the cleanest places in the country.

Los Angeles, CA doesn't have the problems we have because they have control," Johnson continued. "We don't have control. Certify the man at the site so he can issue tickets if items are not properly separated for recycling.”

Such a plan would eliminate out of county dumping in Crisp County, and it also would stop dumpster diving, Johnson said. "Let's start taking care of our county."

Angie Ellis, another task force member, said she visited a manned disposal site, and it was wonderful, but it costs a minimum of $90,000 to build one site, then an employee has to be paid to operate it. "We were trying to come up with solutions that would not increase the cost to taxpayers," she said.

Presently, there are 18 dump sites in the county, according to Commission Chairman Wallace Mathis. "There is no way we could man all 18 of those."

Someone suggested reducing the sites to four or five. The task force had recommended that the landfill be open so that citizens could dispose of trash there. Also, its recommendation included a site at the state farmers market for disposal of yard debris.

John Gordon said that if recyclable materials are separated, and the county sells those items, it could make enough money to pay a man to stay at a site.

Jerry Johnson acknowledged, "there is no perfect solution," but in other communities, he added, "curbside seems to work." He called Crisp County's dumpster sites "unsightly, unsanitary and unsafe. They are embarrassing, especially when visitors come to town."

Avery Smith, general manager of the Cordele Norbord plant said he thinks trash pickup should be privatized. "There are dumpsters on the south side of our property, and we are constantly having to pick up trash.

"Smoakies is a good place to take guests to eat, but it's embarrassing for them to see divers in the dumpsters near the restaurant."

Johnny Jackson said he is concerned about the appearance of the existing dumpster sites, as well as groundwater in areas close to the sites which he argued, "deter business and industry from locating here.

"We're already paying $240 per year for something we're not getting," he said referring to the special tax property owners outside Cordele pay for garbage collection. "If we go to curbside pickup, we'll get something for our money."

A variety of concerns about curbside service were raised. Ronnie McKinney said his fear is that people will go back to dumping appliances and furniture on the side of the road if dumpsters are eliminated.

Steve Whelchel said farmers already have problems getting some of their equipment down roadways without striking signs and mailboxes. "If we hit a curbside can, knock it in the road and someone hits it with an automobile, who is liable?”

David Dent, with Advanced Disposals, a company that is handling curbside collection in Dooly and Sumter Counties, among others, said the transporter is liable for any such accidents. "We have about 25,000 customers," he added, "and I can't think of a single situation in which a car has hit a can."

Dent said the transporter also is responsible for cleaning up the trash if a can gets knocked over and litter falls on the ground.

Several people who have rental property expressed concern about who's responsible if a renter doesn't pay his or her garbage bill. None of them wanted to have to pay for the collection of someone else's trash.

Several people called for better enforcement of littering laws, but Randy Hauesler conceded that the chance of someone being caught improperly disposing of garbage by a law enforcement officer is pretty slim. "Deputies can't be everywhere all the time, and besides, they have more important things to worry about."

Charlie Cannon who has lived in Crisp County only a short while said she sees beauty and great potential for the county, "but I also see trash. Community pride has to be our number one concern." The trash reflects a lack of pride, she continued, and everyone has to work together.

Lamar Perlis who has lived in Crisp County 88 years also urged cooperation. "If we're going to get better, it's up to us. Let's be ambassadors for Cordele and Crisp County."

Perhaps Tommy Hauesler, a former county firefighter who almost lost his life in a fire truck wreck several years ago, best put things into perspective for the assembly of about 100 people. "As trashy and dirty as the county is," he said, "it looked beautiful to me" when he returned home after his close brush with death.

Henderson promised the people that the commission will take action to improve the situation, and Mathis urged, "whatever we do, the people have to embrace it" for it to work.

A second public forum will be scheduled in January in the early evening hours, Mathis promised.

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