As Crisp County Commissioners continue to weigh their options for mandatory residential curbside trash pickup, they got another earful Monday night from concerned citizens attending a second forum on the issue.
Of the 20 residents allowed 3-5 minutes each to speak during an hour-long session that drew a near packed crowd into the old courthouse courtroom, at least 15 voiced opposition to such a proposal.
In launching the parade of those addressing commissioners, Lakeshore Way resident Gail Easton said she was against curbside pickup and in favor of manned dumpsites.
“Required pickup will make the county more undesirable than it is now,” said Easton who suggested an alternative “pay-as-you-go” approach in which residents place their trash in heavy duty bags to be picked up.
That way, she said, companies retrieving the bags won’t have to make an investment in receptacles or other equipment needed for such an operation if the county does choose to go the receptacle route.
Dr. Bill Pannell began his remarks by telling commissioners he knew they would do what they is best, but pointed out in unincorporated areas such as the one in which he resides there would be a problem with wild and domesticated animals knocking over receptacles and scattering trash.
“We already have a constant battle with that happening now and if we go to mandated pickup and that problem continues I can see everything at Wiley Acres as one big trash pile,” Pannell said.
Dennis Fraser said that all commissioners need do to get an idea of what mandated pick-up would be like is to ride city neighborhoods that don’t have alleys behind residences and “you’ll see old tires, mattresses and garbage everywhere.
“Trash is not the problem. A problem is something you can fix. It’s a situation — the looks of our trash. Go by the trash dumpsters at our fast food locations and trash is out back in fenced areas. Once we camouflage our trash with fences (at dump sites), we can re-emphasize recycling.”
Johnny Jackson, a resident of Wanda Road located near Smokey’s Barbecue, was the first to speak in favor of countywide curbside pickup.
“We won’t have to go to dirty dump sites and see the trash. As it is now, if you were looking to locate a business here, you wouldn’t. And as for manned sites, I don’t think people are going to go out of their way to use them.”
Before stressing he was “totally against” curbside pickup, Herbert Gladin said he wanted to clarify a portion of his letter to the editor printed in this past Sunday’s issue of The Dispatch.
In his letter, he wrote that he couldn’t find a neighboring county charging residents less than $20 for such service. He said he since has learned Dooly Countians do pay less that that.
In a scathing reflection upon this county’s appearance due to the trash situation, Frankie Johnson said he has been “across this country from coast to coast, border to border and Crisp County is the filthiest place I’ve ever seen.”
Still, Johnson voiced opposition to the placement of “little green barrels” that are going to get knocked over down into a ditch and send trash flying all over the area.
“I am for manned dump sites and recycling. You can make money off recycling just about anything except maybe dirty baby diapers. And I’ve heard they’re fixing to recycle them,” he said tongue-in-cheek in a remark that drew chuckles from many of those in attendance.
Jerry Carney, a Scenic Route resident, reminded commissioners “best decisions are based upon actual facts. We’re already paying over $500,000 per year (in taxes) for garbage pickup.
“I think manned centers are great if you can afford them. If you put them in, we’ll have a tax increase about equal to what it would cost in curbside pickup fees.
“Curbside pickup is interesting as with it everybody has to be accountable. Costs can be gotten down below $20 (per month) and in the long run we can reduce taxes.”
Also reminding everyone on hand they’re not mandated to buy electricity for their homes but simply choose to do so, Carney said dumpsites are still there for those who choose to use them.
Rick Wehlitz said the chief reason he’s against curbside pickup is that he lives on a road that isn’t county maintained and that there isn’t room for a trash collection truck to come down it, pick up his garbage and turn around.
“And I’m not going to roll a container a quarter-mile down it for pickup. I know we have to do something, but I don’t know what the answer is. There will still be dumping (no matter the manner commissioners choose in trying to rectify the situation).”
Before noting he didn’t know how manned sites can be beautified, Hal McCay said he has heard “a lot of talk about being mandated curbside pickup.
“If you go to it, all the trash will still be on the side of the road. And if you go to surrounding counties and look at their back roads, you’ll see a lot more trash along them than you see here.”
Acknowledging there already is a system in place for curbside pickup in the county on a voluntary basis, Davis Adkins Sr. said that by nature people don’t get all their trash into receptacles.
“If you’ll check, most garbage on rights of way are within one mile of a store (from which food and soft drinks were purchased before being tossed out vehicle windows after consumption).
“We’re already paying for trash pickup so if we take that (money) and do something else with it, I don’t think that’s right. We’ve already got a president with an open checkbook. We have to stop costs somewhere. But the word mandatory makes me mad.”
Next up was John Gordon who after thanking commissioners for allowing citizens to voice their opinions offered a proposal that seemed to meet approval from at least some of those firmly opposed to curbside pickup.
In reflecting upon another “pay-as-you-go” approach, he said some counties are using their rural fire stations as trash collection sites.
With most of the county fire stations here situated on an acre site, he said the size would allow the rear of them to be used as fenced dumpster locations at very low costs. A key, he stressed, is that they’re already manned.
“They use what is called a bag system in which a charge of $1.50 for a 32-gallon bag is assessed if its contents are not separated into recycling materials.
“If the trash is separated into recyclables, there is no fee for the bags and it costs you nothing to take it to the fire station sites where someone is there to take it out of your vehicle if need be.” Counties using that system, Gordon said, are generating about $15,000 in revenue per month.
Regardless of what option commissioners ultimately choose, Gordon insisted he is for “a cleaner, more eye-appealing community. For the convenience of getting rid of garbage, I’m interested in what’s cost effective. Curbside is not cost effective; it will cost you more money.”
Barbara Brysch said that while there is a way to pay for garbage disposal she personally was “totally against curbside.”
After referencing the condition of several downtown buildings where roofs are caving in, windows are covered with rotting boards and debris from some businesses is prevalent, she said she had rather see that situation cleaned up before worrying about trash being dumped.
Noting she frequently travels Philema Rd. on her way to Albany, Debbie McEwing described it as “one of the nastiest I’ve ever traveled.” She also noted Crisp Countians have the reputation of recycling trash simply by rolling down the windows of their vehicles and throwing it out.”
Marvin Lewis and Mary Ray both based their opposition to curbside pickup, especially if it’s mandatory, on the fact farmers already have trouble navigating large equipment up and down the road around mailboxes.
“If we had trash cans and they’re struck, garbage will be scattered everywhere. Most people don’t need another bill (for trash pickup), either,” Ray added.
A major proponent for change, Janis Summers began her remarks by noting she appreciated everyone on hand for “realizing how desperately we want something done about trash.”
Upon asking attendees how many of them were satisfied with the current situation involving trash, she saw less than a handful indicate as much. She then referred to a sign she had seen reading, “You’re grown, I’m grown, clean up after yourself” and said, “It’’s time we do that.”
Acknowledging her opposition to mandatory curbside pickup, Summers said that after learning the county budgets $500,000 for trash collections she asked the amount actually being spent and learned that another $300,000 was being pulled from the general fund to spend on the problem.
“And that didn’t include many other costs. It seems closer to being about $2 million we’re presently paying.”
In her remarks, Connie Carney began by reading a letter Lamar Perlis authored in favor of curbside and then said she had heard “what we can and can’t do but haven’t been able to come up with a foolproof solution.”
Part of the proposal in support of curbside pickup, she said, was to refund a portion of money property owners are now paying in taxes for trash collection.
As for the idea of operating manned sites, she said Crisp County is “looking at something other counties are closing” because they haven’t worked all that well and reminded fellow attendees “Trash (collection) is a business, not a free entity.”
Like Adkins had done earlier in the proceedings, Ronnie Gray pointed out that curbside pickup is already available in the county on a voluntary basis and said he didn’t favor it becoming mandatory.
“Do that and some will be exempt because of who they are and that’s going to create problems, too.
“The county has failed miserably in (operation of) its dumping sites. We need to improve them to make them more accessible. No matter what option is chosen, you’re still going to have the litter problem.”
Drayton Road resident Randy Welch mentioned part of the current problems with dump sites overflowing is that residents from other counties are coming here and dumping their trash.
He also pointed out the county only has two dump trucks and should get more as well as additional employees so that it can “later on go into recycling.”
Welch also said other states he is familiar with operate manned dumpsites that are not as expensive as some are saying they would be locally.
The last person to take the podium, Jerry Johnson said that regardless of what choice county commissioners make to deal with the garbage situation, “We are still going to have trash beside the roads.
“If there’s some way to improve, it would help. I don’t think there’s a perfect solution. I think what we have now could be improved but I don’t know exactly how. It is a problem that needs attention, though.”
County commission chairman Arthur Nance said at the beginning of the evening that the forum was not a debate but rather a chance for he and fellow commissioners to “receive feedback that will aid in making a decision when the issue formally comes up.”
At the conclusion, he thanked those in attendance for coming and said commissioners will “take your comments into consideration, weigh them the best we can and make a decision.”