July 30, 2007


During the June Commissioner’s meeting, there was a resolution to “Request Membership in the Regional Solid Waste Authority.” By what was said during the discussion it appeared as if the County Manager was pushing the Commissioners to approve joining the Regional Solid Waste Authority. The item was deferred. Then again at the July Commissioners meeting, the subject was brought up again. This time citizens showed up armed with information—information the Commissioners should have taken the time to gather themselves to become aware of just what proposals were being pushed by surrounding counties. The Commissioners voted not to join the Authority at this time.

TWG has discovered more information on this subject. It seems that “Solid Waste” isn’t just a topic for discussion in the region by the Authority (part of the NE Georgia RDC), but there have been enough meetings to warrant a VOTE by the RDC board in a few weeks, in fact on August 16th.

From Article “Talking Trash”, Lake Oconee News, 7.27.07
By M. Elizabeth Neal
“Several county and munici¬pal officials in the region were recently named to a study commission to recommend options for long-term garbage disposal solutions in Northeast Georgia. “We weren’t allowed to make a recommendation; instead, we were charged with recommending a list of options,” said Torbert [Greene County Commissioner], who served on the panel. Members of the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Commission will embrace a solution - to be chosen from the list of options - in a meeting Aug. 16 in Athens, said Burke Walker of the NEGRDC.”
“The four options range from the inert to the futuristic. “Do nothing” is standard fare on any list of government options, Lamar said, laughing. Others include a plasma arc facility — so sci-fi in its intent of transforming garbage into a renewable source of fuel that it’s only been built in a few locations; a large regional transfer station for shipping -garbage to landfills out of the region; a new regional landfill; and a dramatically increased emphasis on garbage recycling and composting, Walker said.”

TWG believes the BOC was misled by the County Manager on the” value” of membership in the Solid Waste Authority and what it would mean for Jasper County. It appears as if Jasper would have gotten in “just in time” to help finance the project and maybe be the target area of a new regional landfill. The discussion went as follows:

BOC meeting 6.4.07

1. Request membership in Regional Solid Waste Authority—

• County Manager--When Jasper Co moved to NE Georgia RDC there was an authority. Since we’ve been with NEGRDC we haven’t participated. Joint landfills are rapidly losing capacity. Effort to come up with regional landfill or alternatives to deal with waste. This will give Jasper a seat at the table.
• Comm. Hill—is there a fee?
• County Manager--$400 per year.
Comm. Hill— I think that’s a good deal.
Comm. Johnson reads and says, “We must help with financing.” There’s no requirement to participate in regional landfill and help to finance.
Comm. Bernard—we are opening ourselves up to have the regional landfill [here in Jasper County]. We should have an observer for one year but not to join.
• County Manager-It is also about alternative methods of disposal.
• Comm. Johnson—and “to provide financing” in agreement.
• County Attorney—if you get involved as a member, you will be obligated if other counties vote. (Meaning, whatever the majority wants is what Jasper will have to go along with if County wants to or not.)
• Comm. Bernard—move to defer until have more info.
• Comm. Hill—I think we need the RDC to come talk to the BOC.
• Vote 5-0 to defer

Several concerned citizens learned about this vote and the possibility of a regional landfill. Many of them had been instrumental in stopping a regional landfill here in Jasper about 12-15 years ago. If there were a regional landfill, it would likely be located in the Piedmont area of the County (Hwy 212 W, Smithboro Rd., etc.)

Once again, CITIZENS, not the Commissioners, gathered information, held meetings, and then showed up at the BOC meeting to INFORM the Commissioners. The discussion and comments went as follows:

BOC meeting 7.10.07

Comments by the County Manager to Commissioners as the meeting started upon seeing many citizens attending--Regional Solid Waste Authority was deferred from last meeting. RDC said only Jasper & Newton were not members. This is only a request from RDC; it is not required. I asked RDC what would the financial commitment be. McGahee of RDC responded back and said it would be a DUES ONLY obligation. (TWG: Yeah, right—read attorney’s comments again from 6.4.07 meeting.) There is concern from the public. There is no reason why you have to do it. (This was certainly a different tack from what the County Manager presented at the 6.4.07 meeting.)

Next came public comments:

• Charles Forsythe—Against joining waste authority at this point in time. Once you join you are stuck.
• Joe Johnston—solid waste resolution. Citizens had a meeting last Saturday night. Questions—when, by whom, and how is this in best interest of our county? Do you have minutes of all the RDC Regional Waste Auth meetings? If not, you don’t know what is going on. I’ve requested all the minutes from the RDC and Mr. Dove is going to send them to me. Piedmont Solid Waste—this is what happened in past. (Gave background as to what transpired.) (TWG comment-- This was where PEOPLE, not commissioners, read the entire agreement and put a stop to it 12-15 years ago.) Mr. Johnston asked that the BOC table at least 6 months and learn about it. Told Commissioners, “This is as close as you can get to political suicide.” He presented a petition with 170 signatures in opposition.
• Comm. Bernard—I am against it in this county anywhere. Afraid RDC will choose us as place where they will locate landfill. We can observe.
• Mary Patrick—Where did the Resolution come from? Why did County Manager type up this resolution if you had not asked him to do so?
• Joe Morris—I live on Hwy 212. Concerned with Landfill’s effect on air and water quality. No studies have been done recently. If Jasper County decides to enter authority, what rights does Jasper County have if they don’t agree? Local people and local gov’t have very little input once an authority takes over. Cost? Seriously consider this—it will be an issue if you vote it in after I’m dead and gone.


1. Regional Solid Waste Authority
• County Manager--RDC submitted request. RDC provided resolution.
• Comm. Bernard—move to not join.
• Comm. Hill 2nd for discussion.
Comm. Pennamon—also have concerns with local landfill. We need to look at alternatives. Must monitor for 30 years when local landfill is closed. Comm. Pennamon wants to go with contractor. We can’t afford to stand on our own. This was a heavy debate 10-12 years ago. I don’t see that we are doing anything.
• Comm. Bernard—last year while I attended the RDC, the biggest problem was the fact that they can’t find any county to accept landfill. We should ask to sit in on meetings.
• County Manager—Authority recommends items to RDC. The RDC board makes the decision.
Vote 5-0 to not join Regional Solid Waste Authority.

TWG has concerns with comments by two commissioners. During the June meeting, Comm. Hill thought the Regional Waste Authority was a good idea. Comm. Pennamon’s comments during the July meeting should be of concern to all citizens—“we can’t afford to stand on our own.” Even though he voted not to join, Comm. Pennamon has made mention of shutting down the current landfill on many occasions over last several years. Comm. Pennamon feels that the landfill costs the county too much money; however, there has been a delay of several years in opening a new C&D landfill that is projected to bring in significant revenue to offset costs of the landfill. Other counties require builders and developers to use the county landfill to dispose of waste; Jasper should do the same to decrease costs of running the landfill to the taxpayers of the County.

Citizens of this county must keep their ears and eyes open. Items like a Regional Landfill, Reservoirs, etc. will have an impact on the taxpayers for generations and on the quality of life in Jasper County.


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