Someone could take a PR lesson from Perry County

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Say what you will about the Perry County Commission. Tell them they’re evil anti-environmentalists for considering the construction of a landfill. Hold up a sign with a house dog choking from toxic fumes. Yell at them during commission meetings.

At least the Perry County Commission listens when the people scream.

Tuesday night the commission held its second meeting since a public hearing at R.C. Hatch High School a month ago. It also was the second chance for that commission to take the next step toward construction of a Uniontown landfill.

It also happened to be the second time commissioners put off the vote on the landfill issue — an issue that has crossed all social and racial lines and brought a consensus among many Perry County citizens who oppose the idea.

Want to know why they decided to table the vote Tuesday night?

According to a story in this newspaper on Tuesday, “the commission plans to hold a workshop to review the transcript from the January public hearing in Uniontown and the large amount of correspondence it has received regarding the proposed new landfill.”

What an interesting concept. Commissioners in Perry County know an inordinate number of citizens have held up signs with house dogs choking from the toxic fumes. They know a crowd of angry citizens filled the gymnasium of R.C. Hatch in order to voice their opposition to the plan. They know a young girl stood at the podium and pleaded for her generation. They know citizens screamed at them during their regular commission meeting.

But instead of voting on a new landfill, Perry County commissioners have decided to hold a workshop on the plan. They want to read some of the correspondence from the public on the issue. They want to read the transcript of the public hearing held a month ago.

If you were a bug inside the phones of each county commissioner, there’s no telling what you’d hear. It could be that a decision has already been made. County officials may have already drafted the first bids to be let on the landfill.

No one knows the answer to those suppositions. What we do know, however, is that commissioners do appear to care what the public has to say. If they didn’t, they would have called a meeting, thrown the landfill issue on the table, and passed it during a 15-minute session.

There’s another governmental agency just west of Perry County that could learn a pretty good public relations lesson.