County spends $254,000 on trash removal

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to spend a large sum of money Monday on garbage.

Last month, the council heard an application from Kip McClary, director of general services, who told commissioners that the wheel loader at the county’s waste transfer station was in urgent need of repair or replacement.

This became even more apparent last week when the machine had a fuel filter malfunction and was out of service for half a day.

“It’s probably the most important piece of equipment at the transfer station,” McClary said. “It has over 10,000 hours of use.

“It’s just old,” he added on Monday.

McClary went on to say that estimates to repair the charger are around $50,000 and to replace it now, between $230,000 and $307,000.

“We can get a new one right now for $254,000 with early June delivery from John Deere,” he added. “But if we wait, it could cost $270,000 or more with an early 2023 delivery date.”

County Executive Greg Martin said last month that funding was available for this purpose.

Since McClary’s request was not on the agenda as an action item, there was no vote last month. But on Monday, the board voted to approve the application for the new $254,000 wheel loader.

After that vote was taken, a discussion of trash pickup issues at the county transfer station was sparked due to reports of trash piling up and people being turned away.

“Like so many others, we’ve struggled to keep drivers,” McClary said. “We have one on the composition of the workers and we don’t know if it will come back; Also, we had two of the other three drivers who dealt with COVID.

“So it was difficult,” he added.

McClary said there was an ad on the county’s website looking for a part-time driver, but it didn’t generate anything.

“I don’t think anyone wants to come and do this part-time job without benefits,” he said.

The commissioners made a motion to replace this ad with one for a full-time position and see what happens. There is supposedly a decision coming later this month on whether to fill a full-time position, so the board should reconsider.

In another action, the county…

– Approved proclamations for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Child Abuse Awareness Month and County Government Month.

– Adopted a 92-page Bladen County Disaster Recovery Plan.

— Approved a funding agreement and a mutual aid agreement with the Buckhead Fire Department.

— Approval of CrisisTec’s lowest bid for the design, construction and execution of two operational search and rescue exercise scenarios. The money for the project comes from a state grant of $12,000.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or [email protected]

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