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Ward 1 alderman: ‘We’ve got two more weeks of this garbage’

The Brookhaven alderman for Ward 1 is concerned at the number of overflowing garbage cans lining streets in the city.

Just shy of two weeks is left on Waste Pro’s contract with the city for garbage collection. Arrow Disposal Service Inc. starts Oct. 1 and Curbside Cart Masters of Rector, Arkansas, started delivering blue 95-gallon carts to customers Monday.

Until then, Waste Pro is still under contract for twice-a-week garbage pickup in Brookhaven.

“They didn’t pick up garbage today in Ward 1,” Dorsey Cameron complained to the other board members Tuesday night. “A lady called me yesterday and said they picked up in Brignall Monday but last week they didn’t pick up at all.”

City crews have stepped off their regular jobs in the street and water departments to pick up garbage as needed. Mayor Joe Cox anticipated running city crews again this week and probably next.

“I think y’all had some street guys go pick up Friday it got so bad,” Cameron said. “What are we going to do? We’ve got two more weeks of this garbage. What are we going to do? Are we going to pay them for what they’re doing or are we going to hold money?”

Lincoln County supervisors adopted a fee system Sept. 10 that they will use to dock payments from Waste Pro’s final two paychecks for August and September for missed pickups.

The county also opted to contract with Arrow starting Oct. 1.

Lincoln County Administrator David Fields estimated the fee would be at least $42,000 — that’s nearly half the monthly cost of service. That amount was determined by common rates for equipment and manpower the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses to reimburse small governments working during declared disasters.

The city writes a check to Waste Pro each month for $52,459.69. Customers in the city pay a monthly garbage bill of $21.50.

Cox said he is formulating a plan, but was not ready to reveal it.

“We’re looking at that and we’re looking at ways — we’re not going to discuss how we’re financially going to handle this — but we’re looking at ways that we can offset the work that we’ve done either picking up or work that we’ve done through our hotline taking care of their business. We’re going to deal with that,” he said.

Cox is disappointed at how the last year of the second three-year contract has played out.

“That’s very unfortunate that we’re dealing with a commercial carrier — that’s what they do — but we’re having to take it upon ourselves to fulfill their contract,” he said.

Cameron has tried to reassure his constituents there will be better — and cleaner — days ahead.

“I’m just asking them to hang on for another two weeks. Some of them say OK,” he said.

Cox emphasized customers should continue to use Waste Pro containers for the remainder of the month.

“If you put your garbage out in the Arrow container, Waste Pro cannot pick it up,” he said.

However, Waste Pro had crews collecting carts this week, Cox said.

“We’re not sure why they would do that. There’s no reason for that,” he said. “That was never in our instructions to them.”

Cox said the city was trying to get carts back to those customers.

Waste Pro Divisional Vice President Chris Lockwood said Wednesday about 50 customers’ cans were picked up prematurely, but couldn’t say yet if the carts would be returned so they’d have them for the rest of the scheduled pickups remaining in the month.

Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan is hosting a Vernondale Neighborhood Watch program today at 6 p.m. at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Center which is open to residents and business owners of all six wards. Arrow spokesman Jimmie Moore will be on hand to answer questions about the company and the garbage switchover.

“Every day, a new question pops up about that and rightfully so. It’s a big, ol’ transition we’re going through,” Sullivan said.

Police Chief Kenneth Collins will also be available to discuss how the public can help make Brookhaven safer.