The Solid Waste Management Authorities had a teleconference meeting Thursday, March 19, to discuss the Solid Waste Center hours and how things will be running for now.
Kevin Walter, the manager of the Solid Waste Center, said the Newton Board of Commissioners (BOC) have decided to close several offices to the public of the county of facilities starting March 20 at 8 a.m.
“While there will be employees and department heads in other county buildings, these county buildings will not be open to the public. The department heads and county employees will be working in the buildings, at home or on a call. We are trying to have limited contact with public from now through April 13,” Walter said.
“The landfill and the convenience centers as my recommendation are an essential service and have to be maintained opened. We have recommended to the authorities to endorse a plan to keep the land field open as its current existing hours,” he added.
The hours of the landfill are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and closed on Sundays. The Convenience Centers are Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 p.m.to 7 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.
Walter said the Solid Waste Center has initiated a plan where its employees will maintain 6 feet separation from any citizens that they speak to or interact with at the landfill space. Additionally, there will be no gatherings with more than 10 people.
“Our staff has 15 people at the landfill, and we will be prohibiting department meetings with everyone until everything is restored,” he said
The center will be accepting money from the public through a window, so that the business will still have a connection with the public. Walter believes it is an essential service the center has to maintain and he also wants to make sure his employers are protected.
Walter also discussed suspension hang tags and how they will be operated.
Hang tags, which are sold in the courthouse, will not be open to the public. Walter recommended that the center terminate sales of hang tags for the month while the building is closed for now.
“We have very few people purchasing hang tags now, only like two or three a week. However, there are other options for these people. They can come directly to the landfill and pay per visit or they can hire a garbage hauler to pick up their trash on a month-to-month basis,” Walter said.
He said the center voted last month to offer a reduced price for hang tags of $75 per tag for the remaining four months of the year. The first week 50 tags were sold. Now they have sold only a few tags. Walter recommends the suspension of sales od tags through April 13.
“Since it was an activity that involved personal interactions with the public, where you had to be close to the public members and fill our paperwork. And at this point its no point in continuing that,” said Walter.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz is not opposed to ceasing until April 13, but she does not want to continue this for the rest of the year. She feels that the hang tags should be consistent with the county and it should be suspended only until April 13.
“If anyone feels we need to extend the suspension, then there should be a special call meeting. I think it is confusing as it is for the public since there are already dates, so I think it's best to stick with the county’s date, which is April 13,” she said.
The members approved shutting down until April 13, but if the county should extend its shutdown date, then the center would automatically have to extend to April 16 as well.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz moved this motion, Commissioner Ronnie Cowan seconded and the vote ended in five votes.
The next Newton County Solid Waste meeting will be April 16.