Convenience centers get upgrade

Published 7:43 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

Troup County residents can breathe a sigh of relief, as the county enters the final stages of upgrades on convenience centers that will allow citizens to drop off trash more easily.

In the months since the closure of the correctional institute, citizens have faced less help and shorter hours of operation at convenience centers due to the transition from state inmate labor to unmanned convenience centers, but new upgrades to the centers are finally ready to be installed. Officials hope that the improvements will lead to a better experience for citizens at all 12 sites in the county, including the three that will continue to be staffed.

“They hope to start installing the additions in two weeks,” said Dexter Wells, division director of public services. “They will be adding boxes to these convenience centers that have doors on top. They will have a light and a siren that are required. Any time you open the door, you put your garbage in, you close it and it automatically compacts it. It has safety features where you can open the door from the inside — things that are required that we did not have before.”

Currently, the convenience centers are behind on the latest safety standards, but the updates will bring the centers into compliance with those standards and could potentially save a life.

“I think it is a good thing,” Wells said. “This is a simple way of doing garbage, and it is the right way to do it. It is the safe way to do it, so we jumped on that to make these sites the way that they should be.”

In addition to the safety features, the updates will also make it possible for the county to keep unmanned compactors open for longer hours. However, several commissioners expressed concern for older citizens who have reported having trouble placing trash in the open-topped disposals.

“Most complaints that I’ve had are that senior citizens cannot lift their garbage and throw it over in there,” Commissioner Richard English said. “Y’all have got them too high. It is very inconvenient for us to lift it and throw it over my head in there.”

The open topped disposals are approximately 5 and a half feet tall, and while the Loyd-Tatem convenience center generally has workers who help citizens unload garbage, most of the centers do not. According to Wells, a feature like a ramp to help citizens get higher would be against safety codes, but he did agree to continue looking for a safe solution to the problem. County Manager Tod Tentler said that replacing the dumpsters while they are still functional would be too expensive for the county.

In the meantime, citizens who are unable to use the open topped disposals may have to drive a little further to dispose of their trash.

“There will be three that will still be manned,” Sheriff James Woodruff said. “The prison will always have an inmate out there seven days a week to help unload trash. I know that it is a little further for some people to drive, but if you can’t lift it up, there will always be an inmate there, (and there is the) landfill and Loyd-Tatem.”

The extended times for the conveince centers should begin as soon as the updates have been installed, and the county plans to announce all the features related to the updates and how to use them through a video and other media in a few weeks.

“We are going to make a video to show citizens how this actually works, and we’ll put it on the web page and put it out,” Wells said.

“This is the first step in making them compliant and safe and making them the easiest for citizens.”

The video will not be released until after the new equipment has been installed.

The commission also discussed a budget amendment for $130,000 out of the waste management fund to account for engineering fees and services at the Loyd-Tatem convenience center. The services are provided by New Ventures. Both were left out of the original budget. According to Wells, the additional fees are necessary to safely operate the facilities. The change should not affect the county’s general fund.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.