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Garbage backlog plagues Kershaw

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By Greg Summers

KERSHAW – One sure way to get citizenry fuming at local government is by not picking up their trash, especially during the holidays.
“It couldn’t have occurred at a worse time of the year, when more garbage accumulates. I’ve lived here all my life, and I don’t ever recall this happening,” said Kershaw Mayor Mark Dorman.
Both of Kershaw’s trash-truck drivers – a primary and a substitute – have been out of work sick since just after Christmas, causing trashcans for the town’s 850 customers to overflow into mountains of garbage. Sixty of those customers live outside the town limits.
“You drive by a house and see all of it piled up, and your hands are tied because of the circumstances you’re in,” Dorman said. 
Normally, the town runs one garbage truck, though it has two. Both of them are used to cover the town’s four routes when trash collections peak. The town’s garbage services run five a week and had a plan a place to put both trucks on the road to double up after the Christmas.
Dorman noted that one of the truck drivers called in sick Dec. 27. Then on Dec. 28, the other driver called in. One driver, he said, has been out of work for two weeks, and the other has worked only two days since Christmas. 
“You’ve got to have a certain type of commercial driver’s license to operate the vehicles, and we have a limited number of employees with them. We had a plan. It just fell through due to illness,” he said. 

Catching up
Dorman said the town’s solid-waste employees worked Saturday in order to get up as much trash as possible.
“We don’t normally work on Saturdays, but did and filled up both trucks. The guys worked hard and did an excellent job,” he said.
The mayor is urging Kershaw’s garbage customers to be patient until pickups get back to normal, hopefully, by late this week.
“Thankfully, we have what I call our third-string guy from the utility department who can drive one, but he isn’t familiar with the routes and the stops. The guys on the back have been helping him,” Dorman said.

Break on bills?
The town of Kershaw charges a base rate of $18.50 a month for garbage pickup at homes inside town limits and $22 for out-of-town pickup.
Dorman said the town might waive part of the monthly fees for December and January, but that is not his decision.
“That’s a matter for the entire council to consider, and we will discuss that during our January meeting. I know one customer has asked about it. The full council hasn’t talked about it yet, but we will.”
Town officials are also looking at alternatives and held a special emergency meeting on Jan. 3 to discuss using a private company to pick up the town’s residential trash.
Much of the meeting was held behind closed doors since it was to talk about a contractual matter.  
Council heard proposals from Monroe, N.C.-based Trash Control and Superior Sanitation Services of Camden.
One of the companies made an offer, but Dorman would not say which one. He also noted that based on what they were told, the town still charges less than that company would. No decision was made and no vote was taken on garbage pickup at that meeting.
Council, however, did vote to change this month’s town council meeting from Jan. 21 to Jan. 14 due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on Jan. 21.  
“We wanted to see if we could afford to go to a private service, but right now in looking at the numbers, it’s just not doable,” Dorman said.
The town, he noted, is also developing a “back-up plan to assure that what just happened doesn’t happen again” when it comes to garbage pick up.
“We’re looking at everything, including cross-training. We want our folks to know we’re sensitive to what just happened and are working on it,” he said.   

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at (803) 283-1156.