Private county garbage hauler gets 30-day reprieve on permit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Customers of a private garbage hauler in Warren County will have regular service for the next 30 days while customers are given time to contact another provider, Warren County Fire Coordinator and Environmental Officer Kelly Worthy said.

Repeated violations of the county’s ordinance mandating use of specialized trucks was the stated reason for county supervisors to pull the permit of Leon Drake.

As letters arrive in the coming days to about 150 residents in southeast Warren County who contracted with Drake, residents should prepare payments as normal.

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“We can’t leave people high and dry,” Worthy said.

Warren County does not offer any public waste services, but state law requires the county to monitor private services. A $1.25 surcharge is included in customer bills to pay for county compliance. Households must pay the fee, take it to a landfill themselves if documented or show proof in writing that they have permission to dispose of trash in a commercial receptacle.

An ordinance passed in 2004 outlawing pickups in favor of large, “packer” trucks has addressed the problem of bags falling out of loaded pickup beds, but has also put large companies at a competitive advantage over smaller, family-run operations.

Waste Management, the City of Vicksburg’s contract hauler, has the majority of nonmunicipal business, with about 4,300 accounts. Including Drake, three private haulers maintain about 450 customers. Most of the time, runs are made twice weekly.

A second company, Earth Friends Environmental Services, formerly Earth Friends Recycling & Disposal, has relocated its base to Fayette from Tallulah.  Controlling interest in the company was sold in March to a group headed in part by Fayette Mayor Rogers King.  

Increases in monthly rates due to fuel surcharges have hit residential and commercial customers served by the two companies in the past month.

Rates for Earth Friends’ largely Eagle Lake-based clientele have increased to $22.50 a month, King said when reached Monday. In March, rates for Vicksburg were increased to $17.89 as the company cited fuel costs as a strain in doing business.

Drake, 86 and in business 43 years, is the longest-running private hauler of the three currently permitted.