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Waste hauler pulls new permits to stay on the road

After the business had its permit pulled, drivers from one local waste hauler are continuing to work by getting individual permits so each driver can haul household waste.

The Board of Supervisors approved pulling the permits for three local trash hauler companies last week, due to citation convictions. After approving the decision, letters were mailed to notify the haulers.

The county ordinance allows the Board to pull a waste hauler’s permit after three convictions in a two year period, said County Litter Control Officer Jason Lee. When a permit is pulled, that company cannot get a new one for a one year period. However, the person who owns the company can get a new permit under a different company name the next day.

Smelly Kelly’s owner Kelly Burkes does not believe his hauling business’ permit should have been pulled. Even though it was, garbage pickup offered by Burkes’ company is continuing as normal on the same routes after individual drivers each got their own permits.

Lee said the company had 23 citations and 10 convictions since 2019.

According to records obtained by the Item, the convictions were for issues like hauling solid waste without a tarp, expired tags, improper equipment and one conviction was for spilling loads on a highway.

Two other businesses had their permits pulled. According to court records obtained by the Item, Adequate Garbage Pickup, owned by Michael Price had convictions for issues such as no motor vehicle insurance and no permit to collect litter. Buddy’s, owned by Herbert Billiot Jr., had convictions for violating the tarp law, expired license tag and no permit to collect litter.

Burkes feels some of the tickets were “unjust” and also thinks his company should have been able to receive more tickets, because of the number of drivers who work for him.

“I don’t think three strikes and you’re out should apply all across the board because we have more drivers, so the company with one or two drivers versus us with eight, we’re obviously going to get more tickets,” he said.

Burkes is also frustrated that the Board did not notify him that it was considering pulling his permit before making the decision to do so. He was aware of the citations and trash haulers are given a copy of the county ordinance during inspections.

“I just want a fair chance to operate a small business. That’s a dream come true, even though it’s garbage,” said Burkes. “When they pull our permits like that, there’s no negotiation.”

He was also frustrated the news about his permit being pulled was reported by the Item before he was notified by the Board.

“Now I’m on the front page of the paper and we have 1,500, maybe 1,800 customers, customers calling wanting to know if we’re out of business. It’s making my job harder,” said Burkes.

Burkes claims Lee told his drivers they could haul without a tarp while picking up on back roads and then ticketed them for doing so.

Lee said he told the drivers that if they were going house to house within a subdivision, he would not necessarily expect them to tarp during the 25 feet from one driveway to the next, but he did not tell them they could just go without a tarp on a back road.

Burkes also thought it was unfair for Lee to reschedule one of the driver’s inspections from Dec. 30 to the following Monday in January, as inspections have to be done by January. Lee said he did not ticket that specific driver. He also said haulers are asked to call about their inspections in the first two weeks of December, so he has time to do them along with his other duties such as responding to animal calls and dealing with litter along the highway.

Christiana Guarino, a wife of one of the company’s drivers is very concerned about people thinking that the business is no longer operating when the drivers are still running their routes.

“We have five kids, I have one that has special needs and I have to stay at home, so that’s the income that our family depends on to survive,” she said.
Burkes plans to go to the next Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss the permitting issue with them.

Efforts by the Item to find contact information for the owners of the other two companies were unsuccessful by press time.