The Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission met Sept. 13 for the first time since Loudon County Commission removed several members and replaced them with county commissioners.
The removal followed months of criticism by county commission of an amendment to a contract with Republic Services to operate the Matlock Bend Landfill.
In addition to those removed by county commission, Chairwoman Kelly Littleton-Brewster, Terry Small and Art Stewart resigned over the past few months.
New members Bill Satterfield, Adam Waller, Chase Randolph and Henry Cullen began the meeting by introducing themselves to those in attendance.
LCSWDC Chairwoman Pat Hunter, who along with Loudon representative Tammi Bivens were the only members remaining from the previous commission, welcomed the new faces and others present.
“Solid waste affects everyone," Hunter said. "We all create waste and need to dispose of it. The solid waste commission is here to listen to your comments.”
Hunter said she was going to create new committees on the commission to deal with issues, including hiring a new attorney to replace Kevin Stevens, who resigned following the recent turmoil. She said she, Waller and Cullen would be on the committee.
She said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation had been notified the group was without an attorney and had new members, which might add delays to some communications on specific issues. The commission unanimously approved the creation of a request for qualifications to be issued in the search for a new attorney.
Hunter said she had been in touch with County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw about setting up a new mailing address and would be looking for office space in the county office building. The county will remain the fiscal agent for the LCSWDC, she said.
Steve Field, one of the members who was recently removed, addressed the commission during the public comment period. He thanked Hunter for taking on the role of chairwoman and said she was going in the right direction.
Field cautioned new commissioners that the old landfill operator, Santek, was “the devil that we knew” but the new operator, Republic, is “the devil that we don’t.”
He said he had always known he served at the pleasure of the county mayor and commission and had considered resigning during the recent conflict. He thanked the county for making the decision for him.
Mike Classen, general manager of Republic’s local landfill operations, introduced himself and other Republic employees to new members of the commission.
Classen addressed recent complaints he had received from the waste commission, including the issue of mud covering parts of Highway 72 outside the entrance to the landfill. He said supply chain issues delayed the repair of equipment at the landfill and specifically cited the wheel washing station. He said his crew at the landfill takes the issue of mud on the road seriously.
Hunter asked Classen why the landfill gates were open on recent weekend days when usually closed. Classen said the landfill was open because those days followed holidays when trash pickups were delayed.
New commissioners Satterfield and Cullen asked Classen about recent problems with trash pickups at Tellico Village and the county schools. Classen said trash pickup was managed by a separate division of Republic not connected to landfill operations.
Satterfield said poor performance in trash pickup was giving Republic a public relations "black eye." Cullen added that Republic needs to be more concerned with “brand image.”
Hunter said she wanted to implement a policy of having the commission vote to approve all invoices to be paid. She said she recently learned it was a requirement of state auditors that such invoices be approved by a vote, even though the commission had no such policy.
She also addressed the issue of delivering commission information packets each month several days before a meeting so that commissioners could study the contents. She said the packets contain important information about the operation of the landfill on a monthly basis.
Classen said he would check with his accounting department to find out when the information would be available. He agreed to try and make the packets available on the Friday before Tuesday meetings.
Hunter also introduced the possibility of changing the date of the monthly meeting to the third Thursday of each month. She also asked the commission to consider moving the location of the meeting from Loudon City Hall to the county annex building.
Several commissioners voiced approval of the reconstituted commission.
Bivens told new commissioners she was pleased with the way the meeting progressed.
“This is what I hoped it would be," she said. "It’s a lot of information. I hope you all are ready to embrace this.”
Randolph said he was pleased with the progress made during his first meeting. He said he was particularly concerned operation of the commission be transparent to the public.
Cullen said he was optimistic the LCSWDC was on the right track following recent upheaval. He said change might be difficult but was necessary.