Commission ends salvage sales at Unicoi County solid waste sites

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 8, 2019 at 10:53 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Commission on Monday officially brought an end to the sale of salvage items at the county’s solid waste dump sites.

In a series of identical split votes cast in a special called meeting on Monday, the commission voted 5-2 to approve higher bids submitted for the operation of each of the county’s three dump sites without the sale of salvage items.

The winning bids included: Hoover site, Brian Frost, $900 per month; Unicoi site, John Cooper, $800 per month; Higgins Creek, Linda Cutler, $800.

Coming in at lower costs with the sale of salvage items, the losing bids included: Hoover site, Frost, $800 per month; and Unicoi site, Shane Church, $400.

With commissioners Todd Wilcox and Glenn White absent, Solid Waste Committee Chairman Jamie Harris; Commission Chairman Loren Thomas; and commissioners Stephen Hendrix, John Mosley and Matthew Rice voted in favor of the higher bids without salvage sales. Commissioners Jason Harris and Marie Rice opposed the winning bids, citing the higher costs.

With Wilcox also absent from a meeting of the commission’s three-member Solid Waste Committee held earlier Monday, Jason Harris and Jamie Harris were at a draw on what bids to recommend to the full county commission and voted instead to allow the full commission to resolve the issue.

Jamie Harris said after the meeting, ending salvage sales at the sites will save the county money in the long run by keeping the operators focused on proper placement and record keeping for recyclable materials, for which credits are awarded to help pursue grants to fund needed improvements at the dump.

Earlier this year, Jamie Harris led a crew of workers in the removal of all salvage items previously offered for sale at the sites, citing their unsightliness and the risk of a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation citation.

Two site operators quit as a result of the items’ removal, forcing the county to hire a fill-in operator at the sites and to increase the operators’ compensation by $500 per month for the three months they were not allowed to sell salvage as allowed under their previous contracts.