News and information from our partners

Getting serious about waste County plan to rework system

The Idaho County Commission is continuing to get serious about reforming the way solid waste disposal works on the Camas Prairie.

If a plan to rework Idaho County’s garbage system goes forward, Idaho County could eliminate some of the smaller sites around Grangeville and Cottonwood in favor of large-capacity “mega drop-off” sites solid waste contractor Simmons Sanitation and Recycling Service of Kamiah is working with the Idaho County Commission to design.

“In the larger communities we would have a mega drop-off site,” Idaho County Commissioner Mark Frei explained June 24. “It would be fenced in, it would have hours, it would be manned. Simmons calls it a ‘z-wall’ because of its physical formation, the way they set up the roll-offs where you can back your pickup up and unload. I think you’d unload downhill.”

For smaller items, the “mega drop off” facilities would include a 24-hour area fenced in such a way that garbage would have to be walked in. “There would also be recycling there at the same time,” Frei said.

Frei provided no estimate of how much it could cost the county to bring these concepts to life.

That’s because, while the commission heard some new details at its June 23 meeting, key details are still being figured out.

“The next time, I want Robert Simmons to bring to us the exact plan of which sites would be eliminated because of the mega-site, and which ones we’re going to retain,” Frei said. “We are going to retain a few of the outlying ones. The outlying ones will likely be fenced in as well, so that it’s a carry-in-your-garbage situation, so that if you did have a big bulky thing you would be bringing it to the mega-site.”

The commission hasn’t yet located actual properties where the mega drop offs could be set up. Desirable sites would be away from houses and “geographically self-contained,” Frei said. “One of the next steps is, we’re going to start talking to property owners to see if they’re interested in selling to the county or if they’re interested in giving a long-term lease to the county. When we get some who are interested, of course we will make public those sites, and I’m sure there will be some contesting those sites for one reason or another. Then we’ll hash out objections to particular sites.”

Simmons provided the commission a rough drawing of an Elk City facility that show an area about 200 feet on one side and 170 feet on another, enclosed by 20-foot chain link fence and lined on three sides with barb wire.

Frei anticipates the county will pay for materials and Simmons would pay for labor if the county goes forward with building new sites. Frei suggested that the cost of servicing the sites could be covered without significant change to the county’s existing contract for Camas Prairie garbage service. The county is in the third year of its 10-year contract with Simmons.

“The increase in the cost for having to man the sites would be off-set by not having to drive the trucks and garbage to all these different dumpster sites,” Frei said. “The capacity of the mega-site will be so much more that Simmons won’t even have to dump the mega-site as often as all these mini-sites have had to be dumped.”

Beyond materials for the new sites, the main cost to the county would be lease deals or property purchases.

“How we’re going to handle that cost is up for negotiation,” Frei said. “We do have a little bit of savings in the bank, or do we levy a small tax to cover that capital outlay, that is still up for discussion.”

At the June 23 meeting, the commission heard a comparison of how Idaho County’s solid waste fees stack up against Latah, Clearwater, Lewis, Nez Perce counties, which the Free Press has published online at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment


Information from the Free-Press and our advertisers (Want to add your business to this to this feed?)