MADISON — Despite being the only county in West Virginia that offers free trash service, several Boone County residents continue to be upset that the two transfer stations will be closed Jan. 30, 2016.
“I was here before the trash dumps and I remember what it looked like in Boone County,” said Shelia Woodard of Bloomingrose. “It was a big dump and we’re just trying to fight to keep it decent.”
Woodard was on the agenda for the Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, regular session meeting of the Boone County Commission. She presented commissioners with a petition and letters from over 2,800 Boone County residents concerned about closing the transfer stations located just off Corridor G (U.S. 119) near Danville and in Fosterville.
Many residents questioned the way the county commissioners and administrators manage the county’s budget and coal severance tax revenue.
“We do not want to do this,” said Boone County Commission President Eddie Hendricks. “I live here and was an educator in this county for 37 years. I love the people of Boone County. It is eating me alive to vote to close these transfer stations.”
Fellow commissioner Mickey Brown said the county continues to explore options, but must be financial responsible.
“The county, the board of education and the entire state are feeling the extreme effects from the loss of coal mining operations, jobs and coal severance tax revenue,” Brown said. “If someone has a viable solution we will take it into consideration.”
Commissioner Atholl Halstead said the county has an upcoming meeting with town of Madison and Danville officials to continue working on the trash issue.
“The meeting is next Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m.,” he said. “But people must realize that our top priority is the be financially responsible, balance the budget and keep the courthouse operational.”
The free trash service costs the county over $1.3 million a year. The loss of millions of dollars over the past five years now forcing the county to make drastic budget cuts.
“We have to make some tough decisions,” Brown said. “We have avoided it as long as we possibly could. We don’t want to make cuts, but our coal tax severance revenue dropped really dramatically recently and we must do something.”
Rick Kirk has been the Boone County Solid Waste Director for nearly three decades.
“It’s not a thing that we just said one day ‘hey, we want to close the dumps down,’ it’s some thing we didn’t want to do,” Kirk told WCHS-TV. “It’s something we were forced to do, beyond circumstances, beyond our control.”
Closing the transfers stations means Waste Management will be the only garbage provider in Boone County, and residents would be required by law to have trash pick up. The average cost for a home will be $45 every three months.
“It’s just not fair,” Woodard said. “That’s the reason, people have tight budgets and it’s just not fair to us.”
The commission said it wishes there was a different solution. Even with the petition handed over, officials said closing is the only option.
“It’s all funded under the coal severance tax, you know, the transfer stations, but the lack of the coal severance tax, jobs… the money just isn’t there anymore,” Kirk said.
As far as employment at the transfer station, Kirk said they don’t expect any cuts right now. The plan is to place employees in other areas within the county.
Boone County community leader and activist Delores Cook said she was concerned about the rumors of closing down the West Virginia Coal Festival hosted by the Town of Madison and the West Virginia Coal Museum located on Main Street in downtown Madison.
“I am on both of those boards and it would be a tragedy to see them gone,” she said. “I am also hoping something can be worked on with this trash situation. Everything seems to be too much ‘doom and gloom’ in Boone County. I am hoping everyone will work together for solutions.”
Randy Lawson and another official with Mountain State Waste asked the commission if he would meet with them and Kirk to discuss possible solutions to the transfer stations and solid waste in Boone County. The commission instructed Kirk to immediately meet with them. No details were released about that meeting.
• In other Boone County Commission news, the county approved a resolution transferring Colane Cable franchises to Shentel.
Shentel plans to bring broadband and cable television and telephone services to Boone County, according to company official Chris Kyle.
“This is some very good news for Boone County,” he said. “This will be a huge asset to the community.”
Shentel will bring faster Internet speeds, an expanded cable television lineup and other telecommunication services to the county.
“Shentel will ensure that rural communities have access to the same level of telecommunication services as those found anywhere in the U.S.,” Kyle said.
Shentel Cable was the first telecome provider in the state of West Virginia or Virginia to offer 100 gigabit ethernet service, according to Kyle.
• Approved participation in the National Disaster Resilience Competition Grant through the governor’s office for federal grant monies applied during 2011 to 2013 disasters in the state.
• Accepted the resignation of county employee, Don Jamie Larzo. He has been with the county for 30 years and his resignation is effective Oct. 30, 2015. His position as janitor will not be filled, county administrator Jim Gore said.
• Approved a budget adjustment to make 30 percent cuts to funding to outside agencies. Jim Gore said letters will be sent to effected agencies letting them know of the upcoming cuts due to a shortfall in coal severance tax revenue funding.
• Opened the only bid for on road diesel fuel from B&M Oil in Whitesville for just over $8,000. Also opened the only bid for large truck tires from Tic Tock Tire for $7,762.14.
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @fcpace62 on Twitter.