The Times West Virginian

March 3, 2014

Town of Monongah confronting trash problem

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Town of Monongah is upset and concerned about issues with its garbage pickup.

Mayor Greg Vandetta said some people in town haven’t had their trash picked up for four or five weeks, mostly because of the wintry weather. However, a lot of the back streets that were previously hard to reach due to the road conditions have been easily accessible recently, but still only some of the trash has been collected.

This problem was a topic of discussion at Monongah’s council meeting last week.

Vandetta explained that around 2004, town officials decided to get out of the garbage collection business because those operations were taking money away from Monongah’s general fund that could have been used for other purposes. At that time, the town entered into a contract with Waste Management.

Monongah continued to bill the residential customers itself because it didn’t want to entirely give up its garbage rights, in case of any future interest in getting back into the business, he said. However, the town doesn’t have anything to do with the commercial customers, who have their garbage billed and picked up by Waste Management.

The little bit of money that Monongah makes from residential customers goes to pay the town employees who handle that work and also allows for cleanup days to be organized twice a year. During those cleanup events, trash bins are set up in the town parking lot and residents can drop off any type of items, except for construction materials, for free, Vandetta said.

He said the trouble is that citizens are threatening not to pay for their garbage collection because of the continual interruption in service this winter. However, if people choose not to pay their bills, the town doesn’t get the funding it needs. The town office workers are spending a lot of time trying to handle these trash issues, when it basically isn’t their responsibility.

During the council meeting, the members decided to explore the possibility of using another company for garbage service. The industry is regulated by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, and the town would need to get approval for another to hauler come into the area. Monongah has contacted its lawyer and plans to petition the PSC, Vandetta said.

He has requested that Waste Management send a representation to Monongah’s next regular council meeting on March 10 at 6:30 p.m. The goal is to have a positive meeting to discuss these concerns.

In other news, Lisa McCombs spoke at the council meeting about the Marion County Reading Council’s plans to sponsor a Little Free Library beside the miner's memorial in Monongah.

She described a Little Free Library, which looks similar to an oversized bird house, as a place where people can “take a book, leave a book.” The door to the box will always be unlocked, and people don’t have to check out the books or bring them back.

“It's just a way of engaging a community in reading and trading books,” said McCombs, who teaches eighth grade at Monongah Middle School. “We don’t have a library (in Monongah). I live in Monongah, and I’m very interested in having some sort of reading program or reading access or facility that our community can share.”

The Marion County Reading Council will sponsor the Little Free Library, and McCombs will maintain it. In order to gather statistics about the way the Little Free Library functions, the council will include a journal in the box to keep track of the books placed inside and removed.

“I will be taking donations of books that I can put in the Little Free Library,” she said.

McCombs planned order the Little Free Library soon, and said it will probably take a couple months to arrive and be set up.

In Marion County, another Little Free Library, built and privately managed by Dave Huffman, is located in Fairmont at 11 Park Drive.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.