Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Residents Speak Out on Trash Plan

From having nothing three and a half years ago, Michael and Bryan Barcom built their American Eagle Waste Industries up to 16,000 trash removal customers with 15 trucks. Though they would seem to be at the top of the world, the Barcoms worry a new Trash Districts Development Plan' prepared by a county Solid Waste Management Task Force would put him out of business.

They were among about 100 protestors of the plan who turned out for a public meeting on August 9 at Abiding Savoir Lutheran Church 4355 Butler Hill Road.

Michael and Bryan Barcom worry that the proposal to create 20 trash districts in unincorporated St. Louis. County and award one contract to a hauler for each district, along with additional requirements for bidders, would push out small haulers. It’s conceivable that the same hauler could be selected for all 20 districts.

From having nothing three and a half years ago, Barcoms built their American Eagle Waste Industries up to 16,000 trash removal customers with 15 trucks. Brian Barcom, co-owner of American Eagle, said; "We're throwing an uproar because we’re trying to save our livelihood as well as the people that work for us."

"They're just trying to corner the market. They're not making it fair," Bryan Barcom said. Barcom was hardly alone in his sentiments.

Celeste Witzel, 49, an executive secretary who has become a leader of the opposition, said the proposal would put a lot of small companies out of business.

County Councilman John Campisi, R-6th District, an opponent of the plan, urged people to complain to the County Council. "It's something you need to get involved in," Campisi said. "I represent my area and my area does not want this kind of thing to happen," Campisi said.

The plan, available on the St. Louis County government web site, was drawn up by a task force led by the county's chief operating officer, Garry W. Earls.

In a question and answer period, some went so far as to talk about incorporating a new city in South County. The last time South County residents voted on incorporation, in the· mid-1990s, they voted it down sharply. "The way the county is pushing now, I would be one of the front runners for incorporation," said one person.

One woman, though, was taken aback by the tone of the criticism. "I'm really shocked at hearing the arrogant, mean-spirited remarks about county government," she said, shortly before leaving the meeting.

For his part, Earls said he didn't think the plan would hurt smaller trash haulers. There would be districts in which smaller haulers would be able to compete, he said. But they would have to show that they could provide quality service. As for complaints, Earls said there might be a lot at the beginning, but not in the long-term.

Contracts for two districts would be awarded in the first quarter of 2008, followed by four others' and then the rest in the first quarter of 2009. "We're really trying to work towards supporting the huge majority of people, but there always is some minority that disagrees," Earls said.

He said American Eagle may be the cause of the criticism in South County, because it feels threatened by the process.

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