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Trash: In search of a solution

By Staff
NO PICKUP Waste Management trucks have driven past this pile of yard debris at the Bernard home at 4822 37th Ave. for three weeks, according to the homeowner. Frustrated with what they call poor service, members of the Meridian city council are reviewing the garbage collection contract. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
July 29, 2001
Confused, baffled and frustrated.
Like many Meridian residents, that's how Andy Bernard said he feels after garbage trucks speed by a pile of limbs that has sat untouched in front of his home for almost three weeks.
His situation illustrates a continuing local dilemma: Over the past four months, city officials, residents and the trash contractor have pondered such questions as what's wrong with city trash collection and who's to blame. The debris debacle mainly concerns the collection of limbs, leaves and other yard waste.
City Council President George Thomas is hopeful a four-person committee of city officials, to be appointed this week, can solve the problem. He believes the committee may be able to recommend solutions to the full council by Aug. 21.
As for Waste Management Inc., which holds Meridian's garbage collection contract, site manager Billy Porter said the piles of debris aren't his company's fault. Porter claims most complaints concern piles of limbs too large; therefore, the company doesn't have to pick them up.
Who's fault is it?
Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith did his own investigation of Waste Management's operation and said Porter is wrong.
Porter claims that many of the problems with the piles of debris could be avoided if residents were better educated about the restrictions on pickups. Limbs are supposed to be less than four inches in diameter and less than four-feet long.
Bernard said his pile of limbs is in compliance, but the workers refuse to pick them up.
Other residents contacted by The Meridian Star said most of them had piles that were in compliance, but remained on the street for days or weeks at a time.
Steven McCartney, who lives on 36th Street, said it took numerous phone calls to city officials in order to have a pile of limbs picked up in front of his home.
McCartney said the real problem with trash collection is a combination of the restrictions on limb pick up and poor service from Waste Management.
Why Waste Management?
The city's current contract with Waste Management was renewed last September for four years. Waste Management has been collecting the city's Waste for about eight years.
Before the city contracted with the company, the city's Public Works Department handled garbage and trash pickup.
Thomas said the city decided to "get out of the garbage business" when the Environmental Protection Agency began placing rigid guidelines on waste collection throughout the country.