Many McDuffie County citizens showed up to the Government Services Center on Thursday, Aug. 12 for the public hearing on curbside pickup.
Every person who spoke voiced their displeasure and said they would like to have a choice on who they use as their trash service.
Charlie Newton, chairman, gave an opening statement before the public spoke. Newton said the talks about going to countywide curbside pickup has been going on for roughly five years.
“I know I have addressed in three separate state of the community addresses,” Newton said. “It’s been in the newspaper at least seven times, and I know it’s been on the radio.”
According to Newton, the terrible litter problem has been going on for a while in the county.
“We just can’t keep up with folks throwing their trash out on the dirt roads, where nobody can see it,” Newton said. “We’ve got a bad dumping problem, we try to keep up with it with code enforcement. We even got a prison crew out there picking up trash sites and picking up litter everyday, and we don’t seem to be able to keep up.”
Newton said the board of commissioners is considering different ways of handling the curbside pickup. Newton reiterated to the crowd on hand that Waste Management has not been chosen. The two options that Newton mentioned were a contract with a county-wide service provider, or individuals would have trash service at their homes and then that person would decide who their trash service provider is.
Some members on the board gave their comments before the public spoke. Bill Jopling, commissioner, said they are trying to make the county clean, cheap, and responsive.
“I think that’s the idea behind what we are trying to do here,” Jopling said.
Gloria Thompson, commissioner, reiterated what Jopling said. Sammie Wilson, vice chairman, said that he hopes everyone will be satisfied with what was discussed during the meeting.
Next, residents of McDuffie County voiced their reasoning on the curbside pickup service. Becky Craven, resident, spoke against the curbside pickup service. Craven said she felt it was wrong that her choice was being taken away.
“Most of the trash that comes from the roadways, I’m not saying all of it, but the majority of it’s coming from out of county to start with,” Craven said. “They’re coming into this county and dumping the trash because they think they can get away with it. What we need is more patrol, and more people to go through this trash and find the people’s name on it. They’re sloppy, they’ll slip up.”
Scott Blevins, resident, talks about his belief that a lot of the garbage on the roads is from it flying out of people’s vehicles.
Blevins echoed a lot of what Craven said, and also voiced his displeasure with Waste Management. Blevins said he was excited to get Waste Management because they do recycling. That quickly turned because he had to call them plenty of times because they wouldn’t come pick up his garbage.
Jane Appling, resident, said they (citizens) should be the judge of what to do with their trash, and those that fail to pick up their trash can have a carrier provided. Bob Adams, resident, spoke against the curbside pickup. Adams said he’d like to know why his choice might be taken away.
“I really like to know, when you go and purchase something, that you never have before, if you look up the reviews on it?” Adams said. “If you look up the reviews on there, Waste Management struggles to be one star. Mid-State is four and a half.”
Adams said he’s found all kinds of garbage on some of the back roads. He found furniture, tires, and appliances, among other things.
David Quandt, resident, said he also left Advanced because of the poor service that they had. Quandt uses Midstate as his provider now.
“I have a contract with Mid-State,” Quandt said. “So, if the county takes this approach that’s a breach of my contract. A breach of my contract requires an authority, an overriding authority to remove the citizens right to a private contract, and I don’t see that. A sole source contract, that seems to be the go-to game for this county.”
Thomas Black, resident, said that his main complaint is that he wants a choice on who provides his trash service.
“Give us a choice,” Black said. “I mean every time I turn around something else is being taken away.”
Black said he understands he might have to pay more, but he’s willing to pay it because he can tell that service no. Randy Tillman, resident, talked about how Mesena Road is one of the dirtiest roads in the county. Tillman said he runs that road, most of the time on the weekend, and most of the trash comes from fast food restaurants.
“The trash isn’t from what y’all said it’s from, it’s from fast foods right up here and I pick it up all the time,” Tillman said. “It keeps on being there."
Tillman thinks there should be signs that let people know they will be fined for littering. Michael Griffin, resident, talked about the littering problem throughout the county and how he doesn’t like that his choice is being taken away.
“We just want to be able to make our own choice,” Griffin said. “We appreciate what y’all do and in consideration of everything. Ultimately, is it going to be left up to the residents of the county to decide this? I’m just wondering.”
Tom Holley was another resident that spoke against the curbside pickup. Holley talked about the questions and answers that were included in the McDuffie Progress. Holley mentioned the topic of littering.
“If littering is the issue, go after the litterbugs,” Holley said. “That’s what we’re all saying. Every time one is caught, get the judge to put them in the jailhouse. That stops people from doing it.”
Peggy Lovejoy, resident, mentioned how she is a history buff. Lovejoy referenced the 1700s and how there were taxes imposed on the colonists, in which they had no say.
“So, they rose up, they were objecting to the overreach of their government, which was just raising their taxes because they wanted more money,” Lovejoy said. “If you look at this crowd of people here tonight, that is exactly what’s happening. We are rising up because of government overreach, and that’s it.”
Peter Gustin, resident, said he’s only been in the area for roughly three years, and never had a problem with trash pickup until recently.
“If I didn’t like a company, I fired them,” Gustin said. “If I wanted to take it out to the dump, I’d take it out. So I don’t really see a need for this initiative.”
Gustin said he believes the contract should be on the website before anything is a done deal.
Preston Timmerman spoke out against the proposed curbside pickup. Timmerman talked about some of health issues in certain areas of the town and how that should be looked at first.
“If you’ll ride through certain areas you can see, they got garbage pickup, why hasn’t it been picked up,” Timmerman said. “Why aren’t they being charged for something.”
Teddie Love, resident, said McDuffie County is not New York City or Washington D.C., and they don’t need anyone to choose who is going to pick up their trash.
“I don’t have a trash carrier, my little 80-year-old husband does like most of the people in this county does,” Love said. “He goes out once or twice a month and dumps it out at the landfill.”
Robert Reynolds, resident, didn’t have much to say other than he agreed with everything that was said during the public hearing. Laura Rivers, resident, talked about how her family has lived in the area since 2017, and they used waste management and also got rid of them due to the lack of trash service.
“The type of litter that plagues these roads is an ignorance issue, not a trash can issue,” Rivers said. “I don’t know how you cure that, I don’t know.”
Chairman Newton ended the meeting with some remarks after everyone gave their reasoning for being against this proposed curbside pickup trash service.
“I tell you, not taking your choice away, and not going with a single company, but going with county-wide pickup mandated, and yes, that may even be that you get your choice,” Newton said. “You decide who you want to do it, but requiring people to have trash pickup, I feel just as strongly about that. I don’t know what this commission will do. I am simply the chairman, I don’t even get to make the motion, these folks do. But, my recommendation to the county commission is that we go to countywide garbage pickup in some form.”