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Letter: True leadership wins citizen's victory on solid waste issue
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Dear Editor,

The Newton County Board of Commissioners, under the leadership of Commissioner Nancy Schulz, and with the support of Commissioners Levie Maddox and Lanier Sims, has finally done the right thing regarding solid waste management.

At the Tuesday, April 19, meeting of the Board of Commissioners, members of a new Solid Waste Authority were sworn in and given rightful responsibility and authority over the entire solid waste stream, from collection to hauling to landfill operations. Thank you, Nancy, Lanier and Levie!

It is important here to point out the significance and challenge of getting this done. Unlike decisions made in your home or business, in the world of government common sense is too often trumped by politics. And here, common sense absolutely dictates that the only rational way for this authority to be successful is to have charge over the entire process end-to-end.

But politics does not go down without a fight, however wrongheaded it may be.

It took informed, dedicated, courageous leadership to insist and get the board to go along with pausing before the swearing-in ceremony to make sure and certain that the authority to which they were being sworn clearly had the mandate for the full breadth of oversight required. It took two motions from Commissioner Schulz, challenged by one commissioner but passed by the three named here, to make this critically needed requirement an established fact.

For decades, the county has played politics with this issue by kicking the can down the road, mis-management, sweetheart no-bid contract deals, and back room schemes to turn the county into a regional garbage dump for the profit of a few at the expense of the whole county. The result is a landfill that polluted the Yellow River, created conditions that negatively impacted the quality of life of the Springhill community, garnered an EPD mandate to clean up the mess and, including operation of the so-called convenience centers, has become an operational financial disaster for the county, losing upwards of $2,000,000 per year above collection fees.

Now, finally, like other counties that have solved these problems in ways that are beneficial to citizens, the environment and the budget bottom line, Newton has the chance to leverage existing solutions and turn a disaster into something we can be proud of.

Congratulations to the newly sworn members of the SWA. And thank you. Good thing you are intelligent, resourceful, knowledgeable and fully trustworthy. You will need all those attributes and more to meet the challenges ahead but I am fully confident, now that your charter is rightfully set, that you will succeed marvelously. You have my full support!!

More leadership like this and soon Newton County will no longer be the laughing stock of the state.

Steve Brown, Covington