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Landfill addresses changeover on board

October 12, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ATLANTA -The Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Authority is considering a change in its articles of Incorporation, which could change how the landfill board is constructed.

Currently two commissioners from each of the three counties sit on the authority, but because they are elected officials the possibility of a majority of the board being changed drastically after an election. Many of the commissioners currently seated on the landfill board have been in place for many years and have a great deal of knowledge and experience when it comes to the landfill's operations and knowledge of its projects.

Oscoda Commissioner Joe Stone said losing a large portion of the experience on the board could have a negative impact on the landfill and a change in how the board is made up is something that should be considered. During discussion at Friday's meeting, the idea of having a citizen-at-large be selected by each county's chairman.

"It is a concern because there is a great deal of knowledge on this board and in one term you could have everybody who is here now gone and have all new, green people come in," Stone said. "Some of the people may not even know things like what leachate is, or what gasification or gas probes are, - all the things that are important information for this board. They could learn, but it will take a great deal of time. I personally would like to see one commissioner and one citizen and keep the board at six."

Oscoda Commissioner Mike Hunt, who is facing opposition for his seat in November, agreed with Stone and said keeping the board largely intact is important because of issues such as RER building a gasification plant at the landfill and the pursuit of a groundwater discharge permit from the state, so a system can be constructed to deal with the cost of leachate hauling.

"We have projects in place and under way and if we were to have all new members it would be difficult to replace the knowledge and information we have currently," Hunt said. "Right now each board of commissioners appoints two commissioners to sit on the board and typically it is the same to each year, because of that experience, but to have a whole new board would make even the simplest tasks more difficult."

Landfill Administrator Sandy Cunningham was directed to write a letter of recommendation to each of the boards of commissioners with several different options, which may allow for some elected officials to continue participating on the landfill board should they be removed for one reason or another. In every case though the decision would have to come from the chair of the respective boards.

Cunningham already knows that come Jan. 1 there will be at least three new faces on the landfill board. Stone ran for Oscoda County sheriff in August's preliminary and was defeated and will not be back on the county's board of commissioners and Hunt's fate will be determined in November. Both of Montmorency County's representatives on the board, Brock Bagget and Margaret D'Agostino, were both defeated in the primary elections and will be replaced unless a change to the articles is approved.

Cunningham said the transition involved in having new people on the board is a challenge, but she does her best to help the new commissioners get caught up to speed.

"We make it work and we do whatever the counties want us to do. Whoever the chairmen appoint, that is who we work with and it is my responsibility to get them the background and information they need to make the decisions," Cunningham said. "I believe the counties know they have a responsibility to do what is going to best benefit us so we can keep our operations moving along as smoothly as possible and they will make the right decision and put in place who can make that happen for us."

In other business:

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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