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Walnutport ironing out problems with trash pickup

Walnutport borough continues to be plagued with community complaints regarding the garbage and recycling pickup days and times.

Last week the newly organized board discussed the trash date changes due to the recent holidays.

“It’s common sense they won’t work on a holiday,” said Councilman David Stankovic.

But assistant secretary Deborah Paules said, “I’ve had complaints again this week. So many people call and come in, you have a community that has senior citizens and they get confused.”

Vice President Harold Greene suggested the borough put out a calendar for residents.

“Honestly, how much is it going to cost us to send it out ourselves?” he said.

Patrice Hunsicker, solid waste committee chairwoman, told the board Tamaqua Transfer had informed the borough of the pickup schedule at the beginning of the year.

Greene reiterated the borough create its own color-coded calendar for residents, saying, “It’ll cost us $375. I can do it on a computer myself.”

Council President William Turk added he had his own concerns for the safety of the collectors working on the borough streets.

“On Lincoln Avenue they had two guys, one on each side, now they have one guy and he is running. It’s dangerous. It’s going to be a push and someone is going to get killed,” he said.

“Those guys are in such a big hurry. It’s a dangerous job and they hustle. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Turk said.

Stankovic countered, “It’s not our place to tell them not to hurry.”

Turk added, “They need to put the cans where they got them and not in the street or driveway.”

“They started stacking the cans because it was so windy last week but people complained,” Hunsicker said.

Last year the board voted to hire Tamaqua Transfer Disposal Removal to save money and improve customer service for residents.

Due to the change in companies, collection day was changed from Wednesday to Monday morning with every other Monday slated for recycling pickup.

Resident Rick Smith said the company is not completely emptying the residents’ cans or the fire company’s dumpster of trash bags.

“I can understand if it is frozen, but they’re not emptying the dumpsters all the way,” he said.

According to Tamaqua Transfer owner Larry Wittig, the workers are stuck between a rock and chunk of ice.

“If garbage is frozen in the bottom, we can’t hit the cans against the truck. In the cold weather those things will just shatter,” he said.

Borough resident Ron Bauer asked borough solicitor Michael Corriere what it would take for Walnutport to “get out of the contract. The community doesn’t like this company.”

“To be terminated, it would have to be very, very significant. To get out of it, to say we’re just going to walk away, it has to be serious,” Corriere said.

He said the borough has the right to withhold payments as retribution, but the company has to be “given the chance to cure the problem.”

Wittig, who started his company in 1995, said he handles over 15 different municipalities.

“I spend more of my personal time down there than anywhere else,” he said.

“It’s a fraction of the people. There are habitual residents where I’ve gone down personally and picked it up to avoid problems with people missing pickup times. I’ll go down in my own personal truck to get it,” he said.

“I don’t mind going above and beyond for the customers. But for the most part it appears to me some people will continue to complain. We will continue to work to make it better and better,” said Wittig.

“I can understand things don’t always run smoothly,” Turk said. “But we expect better service. We’re not going to walk away from a four-year contract with three more years to go.”

“Because of the amount of complaints the drivers are marking down who doesn’t put their trash out. Certain places it is repetitious and there are quite a few,” Hunsicker said.

She added that she talked with the company about customers being missed. “I saw the log book,” she said.

Wittig said his drivers keep a documented log book to “show that we are doing what we are contractually obligated to do. I’m always available for any meeting they want. We routinely meet with Patrice,” he said.

“She’s always looking out for the borough. It’s a cute borough. They are very conscientious about their recycling,” he said.

The board agreed to create calendars which will be available at the borough office.

We’re not going to walk away from a four-year contract with three more years to go.

William Turk

Walnutport Council president