ELIZABETHTON — “There is good news on a lot of fronts,” Chairman Joel Street told the members of the Carter County Commission’s Landfill Committee Tuesday. “Things are coming together quicker than I anticipated.”
The good news included finding a good deal on a used front-end loading truck and establishing a recycling center at the landfill. The members also were told the Roan Mountain Convenience Center is showing a profit even before the new truck makes the operation more efficient. The Elk Mills Convenience Center continues to be operated at a loss.
Landfill Manager Benny Lyons said the new truck has already been purchased using the government deals website. He said the truck was owned by the town of Clarksville, Va., and has 29,000 miles on it. The truck was purchased for $5,515.83.
“It is in good shape,” Lyons said. He examined and test drove the truck prior to submitting the bid.
The money comes from an $85,000 authorization the County Commission made last month for to buy a front loading truck and trash bins. With the price of the truck coming in much lower than expected, the committee will be able to purchase more bins.
Lyons said work is under way at the site where the recycling center will be located at the landfill’s front entrance. He said the signs are made and the tiles placed. He said the pads will eventually be covered with concrete.
The committee’s recycling strategy is to target schools and schoolchildren. Street said a recycling container should be placed at every school in the county and city to collect cardboard and paper, which is the most profitable recycling materials the county handles.
Street said he has found Sheriff Chris Mathes to be especially receptive to the effort.
“I feel there is more to my job than just putting people in jail,” Mathes told the committee. “The department has six school resource officers and they can make a positive impact in the schools.”
Mathes saw two areas where his department could help the committee in the schools.
The first way was to revive the Stop Litter Program, which enlisted high school students to perform skits to elementary school students, emphasizing the “don’t litter” message. He said the elementary students look up to high schoolers and are more receptive to the message when they hear it from them.
The second initiative the sheriff suggested was to place a recycling box in every classroom. The box could be a plastic one that is purchased or a wooden one that could be built locally and personalized by each class.
Commissioner Ronnie Trivette suggested a high school shop class could make the boxes. Johnny Julian, a citizen who works at the Northeast Correctional Complex, said the prison has a well-equipped wood shop and the prisoners might be able to make the boxes.
Lyons thanked the sheriff for his suggestions and support.
“I get trustys (from the Carter County Jail) every morning at 6 a.m. The only thing it costs is the meals we feed them each day at lunch. ... I would like to thank him. We couldn’t run the landfill without their help.”
“We just believe in giving back wherever we can,” Mathes said.
As many as 20 trustys are used during the county’s free cleanup days in the spring.
In other matters, Lyons reported the Roan Mountain center was more than $20,000 in the black for the first quarter of the fiscal year, but the Elk Mills center continues to be unprofitable. The committee is continuing to study a plan to move the convenience center to county owned land at the intersection of U.S. Highway 321 and Tenn. Highway 67 in Butler, which is more accessible for people in Fish Springs and Butler.
Because of the good performance of the landfill under Lyon’s direction, the committee unanimously approved a suggestion by Street to request the County Commission to raise Lyons’ salary to a level near the amount earned by his predecessor.
Street said when the committee hired Lyons two years ago it decided not to pay him as much as outgoing manager Ed Buckles had made. It authorized Lyons to be paid $36,000 per year, but Street said the budget for the director’s salary had remained at $43,351. That surplus remains in the budget.
Street’s recommendation was to half the difference, raising Lyon’s pay to more than $39,000 for a year.
On the anniversary of Lyons’ hiring date next October, he suggested the pay be increased to the full budgeted amount. Street emphasized the increase will require no new money. The recommendation will be presented to the commission’s Budget Committee at its December meeting.