The “trash talk” got emotional during Monday evening’s Glen Rose City Council meeting.
The issue of which company would be approved to serve as the solid waste disposal provider for the city of Glen Rose starting Jan. 1 was decided, but not before multiple residents came to the podium to express their disagreement with the decision.
The topic became controversial in recent weeks, fueled at least in part by social media comments about the process used to select from three companies that submitted to proposals.
Before it was all over, two people who spoke out were ordered by Mayor Sue Oldenburg to leave the City Council chambers for what she described as rude comments.
With one City Council member, Robert Marquez, absent from the meeting, the others voted by a 3-1 margin to approve a five-year contract with Knox Waste Service, which is based in Tye, Texas, near Abilene.
Former Glen Rose City Council member Chris Bryant was the second of the two people who were escorted out of the room by Glen Rose Police Chief Buck Martin, at Oldenburg’s direction.
Bryant had already had his turn speaking for the allotted 90 seconds given to the 10 people who signed the sheet to be eligible to take the podium and voice their opinion at the start of the meeting. Bryant addressed City Manager Chester Nolen about his complaints, then turned to the full-house crowd to announce he will be running in hopes of regaining a seat on the council.
As Bryant was heading toward the door to leave the room, he said, “Mr. Nolen, you’re gone,” as he passed behind where the city manager was seated.
Martin said afterward that was the first time in his seven years as police chief he has been asked to escort anyone out of the council chambers.
“I just will not put up with rudeness in the chamber,” said Oldenburg, who is in her first year as mayor. “If you don’t keep control of the chamber, you’re in trouble.”
The three votes to accept Knox Waste Proposal’s proposal were recorded by Doug Mitchell, Sandra Ramsay and Linda James. Dennis Moore was the lone “no” vote.
Bryant said afterward that he had served on the City Council for a total of 8 years, in two separate terms — starting in 2007 and ending in 2016.
“I felt the Council makes a decision and the audience has no rebuttal,” said Bryant, who claimed that the speakers during the public discussion segment should have been allowed 3 minutes to speak, as they are in some meetings on other topics. “I felt I had to stand up and announce I didn’t feel this is right, and I would be on the City Council this next term to correct these issues.”
A woman who earlier in the meeting had addressed the council about the waste disposal controversy was asked to leave and was escorted out by Martin. She first was asked by Oldenburg to tone down her comments aimed at a City Council member while at the podium. The request for her to leave came later when she was standing in the back of the room reportedly showing disrespect with her reactions to the discussion, according to Oldenburg.
The other two companies that submitted proposals trying to secure the new contract were Lone Star Disposal and Waste Connections. The current provider is Waste Connections, whose contract will expire on Dec. 31.
The new contract with Knox, which will be in place through Dec. 31, 2023, states that the basic monthly residential cost will be $17.95 for a 95-gallon cart that will be picked up twice a week. An additional residential cart would be an additional $8.
Commercial fees with Knox will start at $12 per month for a 95-gallon cart to be picked up once a week. Larger businesses can opt for 4-yard trash bins, with pickup service costs starting at $73.50 per month for once a week.
Those from the public who spoke on the track pickup topic during Monday’s meeting indicated they were opposed to awarding the contract to Knox, and some wanted the Council to take a closer look at the other proposals.
Bryant was promoting the proposal submitted by Lone Star. On Tuesday he confirmed that the owner of Lone Star, Kopperl resident Mike Dunlap, is his brother-in-law, but said that he felt that he would oppose the Knox proposal regardless of that fact.
In fact, Bryant was interviewed Tuesday morning and questioned the procedures used to make the decision. He noted that he does intend to run for one of three open at-large seats in the next election, and if elected would seek to remove Nolen from his position if possible.
Bryant claimed that Lone Star was not given a chance to have a meeting with the full committee after owner Mike Dunlap returned from a family vacation out of state.
Nolen, the city manager, told the Glen Rose Reporter before the start of an executive session Monday that the Council was never under any legal obligation to call for a formal sealed bid process.
Bryant noted that Nolen along with James and Mitchell, formed the committee to consider the proposals. Bryant said that the basic residential cost proposed by Knox is about 40 percent higher than the Lone Star proposal of $12.50 a month. He also provided information stating a number of contributions to the local community Lone Star was offering that the other two were not. Those included a 50 percent discount for churches in the city limits, providing three recycling bins in the city, and providing trash carts and bins for all city events.
Bryant also contends that Knox will be using a truck that has a side-lift capability only, and that Lone Star’s front-lift truck would avoid causing problems with tight parking lot or alley access.
Among the other items addressed by the council on Monday was an issue with two dilapidated manufactured mobile homes at 205 Fourth St.
Thomas Heap of the city of Glen Rose Code Enforcement Office, said in his report to the council that the two structures had not been in compliance for several years, and had no current full-time occupant. Heap said notices of non-compliance had been mailed out starting in 2012, and the structures are unsafe and can no longer legally be used as residences within the city limits.
Two members of the family that owns the structures spoke at the podium, including one who said that he had been trying to make repairs on them but at one point was hindered when he suffered a hand injury.
The council voted unanimously, 4-0, to have the structures condemned and have the lot cleared.