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Waste Pro gets grilled by Brookhaven aldermen

Waste Pro representatives were on the chopping block again at the Lincoln County Government Complex, but this time it was to answer questions and complaints from the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen.

Waste Pro district supervisor Marvin Kelch and site manager John Gibson met with the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors in February to address complaints from residents.

They faced the same issues Tuesday before the aldermen.

Kelch and Gibson agreed with the board that the wording of the existing contract with Waste Pro was vague and neither benefitted the company nor the city as a result.

City attorney Joseph Fernald said the original meeting when the contract was signed over a year ago is still fresh in his memory. He said company representatives verbally assured them that all “clean” waste piles would be removed from residents’ yards.

Clean piles do not contain any material that could be considered construction material, nor household trash. They must consist of only leaves and small limbs, cuttings and prunings and such — only items that would come from personal landscaping, Ward 4 Alderwoman Shirley Estes said.

Gibson said that the company’s guideline on picking up piles is two cubic yards, or a pile roughly four feet wide, four feet long and four feet high. That’s about what the debris truck’s claw can pick up at one time, Gipson said.

When several aldermen commented that piles don’t typically meet those dimensions, the question was asked how a citizen could determine how much was too much. “There’s no standard for what’s excessive,” said Fernald.

“What my problem is,” said Mayor Joe Cox, after flipping through a thick stack of printed complaints, “is not that there is a maximum amount to be picked up, but that I personally have seen your [Waste Pro’s] trucks drive right past pile after pile without making any attempt to pick up any of it.”

Cox asked why the piles were completely skipped. Why not go ahead and pick up the amount allowed out of the pile, he suggested.

“Oh, they pick it up,” said Gibson, “but when you’re picking up from leaf piles, it doesn’t always look like anything has been picked up.”

Cox’s emphatic response was that piles were not being picked up from many people’s yards, and something needed to be done about it.

“What do you want from us?” asked Kelch.

Clear language and consistent pick-up was the consensus of the response.

Kelch said he and Gibson had been in their respective positions for three or four months, and were in the process of addressing pre-existing problems. “We’re going to pick it up now,” he said. “None of this two, four, eight or whatever size piles.”

Cox suggested that Kelch and Gibson return to the board with their attorney, and the language of the contract can be reworded to whatever it needs to be.

Ward 6 Aldermen David Phillips, Ward 3 Alderwoman Mary Wilson and Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice did not attend the board meeting.

In other business:

• Aldermen voted to approve a beer permit for County Club of Brookhaven LLC, doing  business as Brookhaven Country Club, 640 Country Club Road.

• Aldermen voted to hire two part-time seasonal workers for the cemetery department — Devin Love and R. Lasedrick Kelly —at $9.18 an hour each.

• Aldermen voted to hire three officers for the Brookhaven Police Department: Boysel Ronnie Dean, a certified officer coming from Amite County Sheriff’s Office, at $30,402.26 annually, Scott Michael Reeves, a certified officer from Summit Police Department, at $30,402.26 annually; and Christopher Malik Clowers, a non-certified policeman at $27,534.12 annually.

• Aldermen agreed to discuss limiting hours of door-to-door solicitation, suggested by Police Chief Bobby Bell.

• Inspector David Fearn informed the board and attendees that all signs of any type in the city’s rights-of-way would be removed by him on Friday if they were still in illegal locations.

• Aldermen approved of burn permits for two residents that are removing old structures and debris.

• Aldermen accepted low bids from Greenbriar to extend and add waterlines in three locations, for a total of $48,400, with revisions to the budget.

• Aldermen approved a request by Frank Moak to hold two bicycle races within the city May 19-20.

• Approved Public Works Director Keith Lewis’ request to require potential new hires to pay the cost of their own drug testing before being employed; if hired after passing the drug test, the actual cost of the test would be reimbursed.

• Entered into an executive session for contract negotiation and pending litigation which included updates from Fernald. No action was taken when the board came out of the closed-door meeting.