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Waste Pro addresses complaints again

Waste Pro representatives appeared before the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors again Monday to answer complaints of missed stops on county routes.

Supervisors had asked top management to attend the Feb. 21 meeting to address recurring issues concerning trash not being picked up adequately. A lower-level manager, Chris Jones, was sent in their place.

Jones addressed some issues, but problems did not go away, and the supervisors wanted answers from someone higher up in the company. Waste Pro site manager John Gibson, a Lincoln County resident, appeared before the board Monday morning. He brought along Marvin Kelch, a Waste Pro division manager.

Gibson apologized to the board for their necessary absence from the previous meeting —both been at mandatory meetings elsewhere — as well as for their representative’s failure to state the company’s plan going forward.

Jones was not the person to call with problems, Kelch said. He pointed out to supervisors that that responsibility lies with the division manager’s office.

Too many people across the company’s county and municipal contracts were calling the wrong phone numbers in order to address their problems, and were subsequently reaching voicemails or wrong departments, he said. Too many times, various people had given out phone numbers of departments or individuals who were not tasked with addressing these types of problems. This simply added to the confusion and delays, Kelch said.

“Here’s how our system works,” he said. “If anybody calls, call the number on my card.” It’s also the number printed on customer bills, noted Gibson.

That phone number, 601-361-9967, reaches the dispatch office. One of three dispatchers will answer the phone, and take down a word-for-word transcript of the caller’s issue. In the matter of a complaint, that transcript is then sent via email to Jones, Gibson, Kelch and manager Doug Atkins. Gibson’s job then is to verify that something has been done to address the problem within one hour of receipt of the complaint. Kelch and Atkins follow up.

In response to District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown’s earlier concern that 24 hours was a long time to handle a complaint, Gibson insisted that was a misunderstanding.

“We say 24 hours,” Gibson said, “but what we really mean is that we’ll handle it within that same day.”

For the supervisors, this did not explain why some houses are still missed on the regular trash pickup routes.

Kelch said there was a no-cost online GPS tracker available to supervisors to track Waste Pro trucks as they completed their routes. District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey noted that rarely did supervisors — who were receiving complaint calls from their constituents — have access to the internet while out in the county in their districts.

Gibson assured the board that he personally was responsible for making sure new drivers learned their full routes through the county, and would make sure that each of these issues was addressed and handled within a timely manner.

“I spoke with Gibson earlier about all of this, and I believe he will do a great job,” said District 2 Supervisor Bobby Watts.

In other business:

• The board voted on submitted bids for the renovation of Ability Works building at 934 Industrial Park Road NE. Two bidders tied for lowest bid: Villamar Construction and Jay Van Construction. In cases of ties for low bid, the Mississippi Attorney General’s office allows the board to choose between the two in whichever manner they decide, according to board attorney Bob Allen. In a unanimous vote, the board opted for using Jay Van Construction, partly because several county residents are employees of the company.

• The board voted to call for bids for lawn care services for the Keystone Seneca property, including the ball fields.

• The board voted unanimously to accept the contract presented from The Retail Coach for economic development.

• The board tabled an issue about upgrading the radio system for the county’s volunteer fire departments. Lincoln County Emergency Operations Director Clifford Galey had been asked to research what would be needed to upgrade the existing system.

• The board voted unanimously to reject two bids submitted for renovation of the boardroom, and to make a public call for bids.

• The board voted 3-2 to renew the existing health insurance plan for county employees through United Health Care, as well as the existing dental insurance plan.

• The board entered a brief executive session for economic development, and no action was taken following the session.

• The board accepted a public records request from The Daily Leader.