It’s always amazing when angry citizens write letters without doing their homework. Kim Chenoweth’s letter [Oct. 14 issue] was nothing short of speculation that there is some sinister plot in the works aimed at making life easy for the people living in the City of Grangeville. If she had been paying attention at all, done even a bit of research or asked a few questions, she would know that the idea of dumpster consolidation is not new. It has been discussed for almost 10 years, initially with Walco in fact, to address widespread dumpster abuse and costs of collection. A search of the Idaho County website, where all meeting agendas and minutes are posted, reveals that this very issue was discussed with Walco on April 26, 2011, and Oct. 25, 2011.
But that is beside the point. The county has an obligation to provide for the disposal of garbage. Solid waste is an issue that has been wrestled with for as long as I have been a commissioner. This has been done through the collection of fees, added to your tax bill, to cover the costs of providing this service. Additionally, we have the challenge of providing that service to a large geographically and rural area. Because of this, there is a balancing act on how many convenient drop off locations we have vs cost.
The “unmanned dumpster system” has been in place for decades, but it’s not without numerous issues, not the least of which is concern about the environmental impact of blowing debris and the illegal dumping of hazardous materials such as solvents and animal carcasses. For every person who likes the convenience of having a dumpster down the road out of site, near their neighbor’s place, there are 10 others who are concerned and complaining about the overflow that presumably comes from all of the “Grangeville people” filling the nearby dumpsters with all of the stuff they don’t want to take the time to haul to the Walco transfer station. Even by increasing dumpster runs to daily pick up in most areas, and sometimes twice daily pick up on some dumpsters that are heavily hit, the problem is out of control. Numerous individuals have suggested a system that shifts from paying a flat fee for disposal to a “pay for what you use” system. This cannot be done with the current system of unmonitored dumpsters.
For the past four years, at least, we have been looking for property to accommodate a drop location that would be open for regular hours and staffed by someone who could monitor who is actually using the dumpsters. Additionally, this location would be available to handle recyclables-a provision that was not included in the “perfect service” provided by Walco through their RFP submission. The ability to reduce tonnage by accepting recyclables helps everyone, but most especially, the team of volunteers who have operated Idaho County Recycling in Grangeville. The other proposed area drop locations is Cottonwood, Kooskia and Riggins would also accommodate recycling. As mentioned in David Rauzi’s article last week, we have been searching earnestly and have come up with no viable options. Simmons’ purchase of property outside of Grangeville, while not perfect (it will never be the perfect location for everyone) seems to check several boxes off the list of sites that would work.
Perhaps most frustrating of the accusations in Mrs. Chenoweth’s letter is the charge that we somehow disregard the citizenry of this county so much that we would work extra hard to make sure that the most unsightly bank of dumpsters would be conveniently located so all people traveling to or from Grangeville would be able to behold our creation. Had she asked a few questions or done a little research, perhaps she would have joined Bill and Carla Carpenter when they spoke to us of their concerns, rather than writing a letter that offers no solutions for anyone but her.
- Skip Brandt, chair, Idaho County Commission