M&M debate continues

Posted By | August 16, 2005 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
The vote about who will be given the county’s recycling materials will once again be presented to the county commission during tonight’s meeting at 7 p.m., Aug. 15, at White County Courthouse.
During the Wednesday night meeting of White County Solid Waste Committee, members voted to send the matter back to the full commission. The decision will be in the hands of White County commissioners about which business, M&M Recycling or ASE Metals, will be given the cardboard, plastic and cans collected in the specially marked bins at the county’s convenience centers.
This will not be the first vote on the recycling issue. M&M Recycling had originally been given the recyclable materials several months ago in a vote by the solid waste committee. M&M had been accepting the materials until some neighbors of the business began complaining about the large pile of refuse.
Barry Atnip, State of Tennessee environmental field office manager with the division of solid waste management, visited M&M in April 2005 and wrote a notice of violation on the business. Mack Seibers, of M&M, was given 45 days from the date of the letter to remove the refuse from the property.
Atnip was scheduled to return on June 6, 2005, to re-inspect M&M. However, a fire on May 8, 2005, which was extinguished by Mt. Gilead Volunteer Fire Department, destroyed most of the pile of refuse.
Atnip said Seibers apparently had experienced problems with the grinder, which caused an excess of recyclable materials to be left unprocessed. Atnip said there were no hazardous materials in the pile. He also said M&M had transported some of the excess materials to White County Landfill for disposal.
When M&M was cited by the state for this violation, the county stopped hauling the recyclables to Seibers. The cardboard, plastic and cans were transported to ASE Metals, who paid for the materials.
During the July 18, 2005, meeting of White County Board of Commissioners, a vote of 7-5 was cast in favor of returning the business to M&M. However, Denny Mitchell, attorney for White County, said the matter would have required eight “yes” votes for a majority. Therefore, the vote was considered “illegal.”
Wednesday night, members of the solid waste committee discussed sending the matter back to the full commission. David Copeland, committee member, asked for an explanation of the vote, since he had not been present at the July county commission meeting.
“Really, David, I think the dispute was they couldn’t get in Mack’s place of business down there,” said Raymond England, referring to the problems with the landfill trucks getting into the facility, “and the way I feel about that is Mack took a lot of this stuff before we had a place to take it.”
England asked Kenneth Milligan, chairman, if that was a correct statement, and Milligan said “yes.”
“We approved to let him have it, and he bought the equipment to handle it on the premise that we would let him have it and do the business,” said Milligan.
England said the vote was unanimously in favor of giving the materials to M&M when the solid waste committee originally voted on the matter. However, he said White County Mayor Herd Sullivan told the committee the matter would have to be sent to the full commission before the vote would be legal.
“I can see that,” said England, talking about sending the matter to the full commission, “but I just wonder. Does everything we vote on here in this committee – do we have to send [it] to full court?”
“We have been,” said Milligan.
Copeland asked if the debate had been about ASE paying for the materials and M&M not paying.
“That’s the reason I voted against it,” said Terry Alley. “It wasn’t against Mack, because all of us wanted to do anything we could to help him. I said this in open court. Whenever somebody’s paying and somebody’s not, that’s kind of common sense you want to go where you can make money. I think it’s our duty to the public to try to better ourselves.”
England responded, “But, are we going back on our word when we got a 100 percent vote, or are we going back on our word saying one minute we say we’re going to let him have it, and the next minute because somebody’s paying a little for the cardboard we’re going to take it away from him?”
During the Wednesday meeting, Mark Farley, White County finance director, said he had received only one check from ASE, which totaled approximately $100. Farley spoke with The Expositor on Thursday and confirmed a check had been received Aug. 4, 2005, for $99.65, which was for approximately three months of receiving recyclable materials.
“We could bury it [recyclables] all day long [at the landfill], but it would fill it up,” said Farley. “The most precious thing to the landfill is space.”
Farley also said the state encourages recycling. White County pays the state 95 cents per ton of garbage hauled to the landfill. For the quarter ending March 31, 2005, White County Landfill had taken in 3,912 tons of garbage.
“In all honesty, I think we do owe – in a sense we owe him [Seibers] a little something, because we did, after all, we started with that, and he invested money in something,” said Copeland.
Denise Qualls, who lives near M&M, said she was concerned about what was being dumped at the facility.
“I have no problem with Mack Seibers,” said Qualls. “I’ve been there 11 years. He’s a great neighbor.”
However, Qualls said she did have a problem with “the burning, the rats [and] the refuse.” Seibers said any “burning” was coming from the pallet mill, which is the business operated in conjunction with M&M.
Qualls complained about the infestation of rats, which she said had only been a problem within the last two years. She also said the pastor at Mt. Gilead Methodist Church, who lives on Mt. Gilead Church Road, had problems with rats. However, Laverne “Duck” Day and his wife Thelma, who live on Sullivan Knowles Road, directly across from M&M, said they did not have a problem with rats. Seibers, who lives next door to his business on Sullivan Knowles Road, said rats had never been a problem at his residence.
“I think somebody’s got hard feelings toward Mack, and that’s the problem right there,” said England. “You can’t single out Mack and you go around the county and look at the other places that’s junked up more than Mack’s is, and then not consider these other places.”
England asked the Days if they had problems with the business.
“We’ve never had a problem with Mack,” said Duck. “We’ve been there 34 years. It was a cornfield when we come there.”
“The people that’s doing the griping, they knew that Mack was down there when they moved down there,” said Thelma, “just like one certain person that come and asked me if I would sign something to get that moved out of there, and I told them, ‘No, I would not,’ that ‘Mack was a good neighbor,’ and if there was any paper or anything blown over in my yard, he sent somebody over there to pick it up.”
Also present at the meeting were truck drivers for White County Landfill.
On Thursday, The Expositor contacted Sullivan, and he confirmed the county is resposible for hauling the recyclables to whichever business is receiving the materials. Neither M&M nor ASE transports the materials to their own locations.
Seibers said the truck did not have to pull inside the building, but could dump the load just outside the door. Then, Seibers would move the materials into the building.
When speaking with The Expositor on Thursday, Sullivan said he has bills for approximately $16,000 in hauling fees from the landfill that are owed by Seibers. Sullivan said these fees were accumulated by Seibers when his grinder was inoperable and materials were transported to the landfill. Sullivan said he plans to present the bills to the county commission at tonight’s meeting.
Solid waste committee members voting to send the matter back to the full commission included Loyd Hutchings, B.K. Luna, Raymond England, Kenneth Milligan and David Copeland. Terry Alley was the only “no” vote cast.
Last month, The Expositor requested White County Court Clerk’s office to check records for a business license for M&M Recycling. No license was found under the name of M&M Recycling. However, a license is issued to White County Pallet Company, which is located in the same facility as M&M Recycling. According to the clerk’s office, a county business must gross at least $3,000 before a license is required.
White County Board of Commissioners meets at 7 p.m., tonight, at White County Courthouse, where the decision will be made about whether M&M Recycling or ASE Metals will receive the county’s recyclable materials.

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