County Commission wades into garbage recycling, forms committee
By Joel Davis | (email@example.com)
The Blount County Commission on Thursday approved establishing an ad hoc committee to consider ways to offer garbage recycling for county residents.
The commission approved the committee by a vote of 20-1. Only Commissioner Jim Folts voted against it. His motion to refer the problem to the Blount County Solid Waste Authority failed.
“The reason why this County Commission is looking at this issue is county citizens effectively have no place to recycle,” Commissioner Tab Burkhalter said.
Audience member Joe Mantion encouraged the commission to approve the committee. He emphasized the need for convenience to encourage recycling. “If it’s not convenient, a lot of people won’t recycle,” he said.
Commissioner Rick Carver’s amendment to add the director of Keep Blount Beautiful to the committee was approved.
The development occurred after the city of Maryville’s recent decision to limit its convenience drop-off centers to city residents only.
In other action, commissioners unanimously voted to give Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap permission to apply for a grant to repair flood damage to Long Rifle Road.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation might pay for some of the repairs. It has been provided with estimates of the costs, but the county has not heard back from the department, Dunlap said.
Animal proposal delayed
An agreement to allow the Blount County Animal Shelter to receive all stray or abandoned animals from Maryville and Alcoa was pulled from the agenda.
Commissioner Steve Samples made the motion to pull the item from consideration. It was adopted without objection.
“I asked Randy Vineyard, the county finance director, to provide more specific and detailed numbers for the commission and the other municipalities that are involved. We couldn’t get them back in time, so we decided to pull it. We’ll bring it back at a later date after we’ve taken it back to the Animal Control Committee.”
Maryville and Alcoa have asked Blount County to produce a proposed interlocal agreement with annual costs for taking stray or abandoned animals from the two cities.
Smokies fee opposed
A resolution sponsored by Blount County Commissioner Tab Burkhalter to take a symbolic stand against the new backcountry reservation and permitting process in Great Smoky Mountains National Park passed 11-9 with one abstaining.
Voting yes with Burkhalter included Commissioners Tony Burchfield, Gary Farmer, Jim Folts, Ron French, Brad Harrison, Scott Helton, Holden Lail, Mike Lewis, Monika Murrell and Gordon Wright.
Voting no were Commissioners Richard Carver, Mike Caylor, Roy Gamble, Mark Hasty, Gerald Kirby, Petty Lambert, Kenneth Melton, Jerome Moon and Steve Samples.
Commissioner Tom Greene abstained.
The action has no direct impact on the changes that took effect on Feb. 13, when the park began charging $4 per person, per night for use of the park’s backcountry campsites and shelters.
GSMNP Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, who was a member of the audience, asked the commission to oppose the resolution, adding he was surprised and taken aback when he learned of it.
“The fact is we began the civic engagement process almost two years ago,” he said.
Burkhalter said the county government needed to be more involved in the process. “My purpose in this resolution is to let the park service know that we represent the constituents that use the park.”
Ditmanson said there had been significant newspaper and television coverage of the proposal during the public input process.
There is also the fact that the fee is meeting its purpose, Ditmanson said. “What is completely overlooked in the resolution is the fee is generally improving customer service.”
Blount County resident Dan Lawson said he had volunteered for the backcountry permit office and that the new system was a good one. “To me it is a real asset to backpackers,” he said.
Several audience members spoke in support of the resolution prior to the vote.
John Quillen, who maintains the http://southernforestwatch.org website, has led public opposition to the fee. The organization has threatened to file a lawsuit against imposition of the fee.
Quillen expressed his thanks to the commission for considering the resolution. “We don’t have a voice,” he said. “The federal government didn’t listen to us.”