Uniontown may get trash from 108 million people

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2005

UNIONTOWN- Stands in the Robert C. Hatch gymnasium were full of upset residents as the last landfill hearing took place Monday Night.

Mary Schaffer greeted residents as they walked through the doors of the gym. Attendees could either chose to sign their name on the list to protest the landfill and take a “No landfill sign” or walk by. There weren’t many attendees who chose the latter.

Commissioner Johnny Flowers welcomed residents and went over the “rules” for the night that included no heckling and no outbursts and then the issues began to come to light.

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Leo Gentilly, a representative of Perry County Associates, the company responsible for the landfill, gave the details of the property.

“The space is 1,100 acres of land. Of which only 256 acres will be used for solid waste,” he said.

He told the crowd there would be no hazardous wastes dumped into the site, only household and construction wastes, and “special wastes approved by APEM.”

The site will begin housing 7,500 tons of waste a day from Alabama and 14 other states along the coast.

Uniontown resident Robert Bamberg said the landfill was “unnecessary, unwanted, and harmful.” He reminded commissioners that Uniontown trash was already being taken care of, so there was no need for an alternative.

“I understand people up north want to get rid of their garbage, but don’t put it in my backyard,” he said. “This is our future and this ain’t right.”

Cynthia Maddox, another Uniontown resident and city employee, debated the facts and numbers on the application.

“They did not meet the application requirements,” Maddox said. “Everything is based on misrepresentation an inaccuracies. The whole point is to have waste reduction. This is waste production.”

Carlene James, Uniontown resident and daughter of the last pastor of New Hope Church – the church which use to be on the proposed site- said she moved back to Uniontown from New York so she doesn’t need New York trash to follow her. She also expressed concern for the graves on the site.

“I’ve been to funerals there, so I know there are people buried there,” James said.

Maddox, who thinks the whole idea is asinine and ludicrous, asked commissioners, “How would you like to put a landfill 100 feet from your mother’s grave?”

Cherry Hopper and her husband Otha are both against the landfill.

Cherry asked if it were just a coincidence that Highway 80 is becoming a four-lane highway now that there are talks of a landfill and more traffic, while Otha was worried about a dwindling population.

He said the population was almost three times what it is now when he first moved to Uniontown and believes the landfill will only drive more people away.

“Why do you want to do that to this county,” he asked commissioners. “They know better and we know better.”

Emma Beasley, who was born and raised in Uniontown, said she is worried about the water and air pollution the traffic and landfill will cause.

“Our water and air quality will forever be compromised,” she said. “It’s bad enough we have to carry bottles of water wherever we go, but what if we had to carry air bags everywhere too?”

Beasley’s daughter Mary Schaffer told residents the county commissioners didn’t have the right to take their hometown, peace, and tranquility in spite of their protests.

“It occurred to me that maybe we can gather up our garbage and put it in their front yard, but that would be too blatant,” she said.

Schaffer said she had done the math and those “five men,” as she referred to commissioners, are inviting 33 percent of the population to bring their trash to Uniontown. “That’s 108 million people and that is absolutely appauling.”

She recommended to engineers to stop finding ways to attempt to make landfills safe and find ways to recycle and compost.

“We appreciate you expertise, but we don’t want your landfill,” she said.

By the close of the meeting no one took the stand to say “yes” to the landfill, but Uniontown resident, Curtis Strother suggested a middle ground.

“Waste management is needed. We just need to come up with something everybody can live with,” he said. “I’m not for this oversized establishment.”

Although many signs could be found throughout the gym, this one proved to be a favorite:

Only when the last tree is dead, the last land is wasteland, the last water is toxic, and the last fish is poisoned will some people realize that we can’t eat money.

Commissioner Flowers said that residents will soon get another opportunity to speak on the issue because nothing is set.

Keep your eyes, ears, and nose open for more on the possibility of a Uniontown landfill.