By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Rumors have been circulating regarding the Tucker County Landfill being taken over by the West Virginia Solid Waste Authority. Mark Holstine, Executive Director of the Solid Waste Management Board, was present at the most recent Tucker County Commission meeting to explain the situation and lay to rest the rumors that have been going around.
The Tucker County Landfill has been in operation since the late 1970’s and employs several individuals. Not only does it service the residents of Tucker County, but there are nine additional counties who rely on this entity for a place to discard of their trash. What a majority of the public does not realize is how “technical and engineered” these facilities are, which Holstine briefly explained. It is not as simple as the trash is tossed and covered with dirt, but there are far more technicalities involved.
Recently, former Tucker County Landfill Executive Director Steven Moore found himself in front of the Tucker County Grand Jury on six counts of embezzlement and one count of fraudulent schemes. Holstine explained that they perform a bi-annual inspection of the landfill where they found some discrepancies in their performance that began to come to their attention in light of Moore’s charges and past evaluations. Once these issues were noted, a 90 day improvement plan was implemented before the board returned to determine their progress on their suggestions. The timeframe was then extended as they didn’t feel it was ample time to resolve some of the issues, however during that extension more problems continued to unfold. A meeting was held between the local Solid Waste Authority, which Commissioner Fred Davis is a member of, and the management board where it was agreed upon that it would be beneficial for the board to step in to assist. Holstine explained that, since 2007 when these bi-annual inspections became obligatory, this is only the second time the management board has taken over the managerial duties of a landfill.
Holstine explained that some of the issues that were of concern included environmental issues from the Department of Environmental Protection, operational and managerial issues, as well as financial discrepancies. A new Executive Director of the landfill has been hired and is working hand in hand with the team from the board to learn his new role while correcting the issues recently discovered. The team has been working within the landfill the last three weeks and will continue to help several times a week until the new director becomes more familiar with his new role. Once things are on an improvement path, the team will be assisting more via phone and email unless they need to make another trip to the landfill.
As for as the operation of the landfill, it is operating on a normal schedule and will continue to do so. The free day will also continue as it has all along. “The goal is to maintain the facility for the public far into the future,” Holstine explained. He reported to the commissioners that, if their changes are implemented properly, the landfill should have at least another 75 year lifespan. Commission President Lowell Moore said, “I’m well encouraged,” after Holstine presented his update to the panel. Moore asked Holstine to attend the 9 a.m. meeting every other month to provide the commissioners with an update on progress, to which he agreed.