Category Archives: RECYCLING

RECYCLE? NOT!

Photo credit: Francis Davis

Photo credit: Francis Davis

GRANTSBORO – An all too common sight these days is a large, blue recycle bin showing up on the dumping floor of a busy place known as the ‘transfer station’ on Highway 306. In a perfect world, recyclables from our area are supposed to go to Greenville where sorting and reprocessing begins. Instead, more often than not, recycle items are dumped here — like regular household garbage – and subsequently transferred by tractor-trailer to a massive landfill near Tuscarora. The reason? Local miscreants are using recycle bins as an alternative to paying for garbage pickup. Food scraps, pet waste, dirty diapers, and a host of other items ‘contaminant’ the bins, which leaves officials no other choice. One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel! If you see improper stuff being loaded into a recycle bin, write down the license plate number and call the Pamlico County Manager at (252) 745-3131.

Smile! Camera meant to catch dumpers

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
Culprits are ignoring rules that prohibit dumping of household garbage at the Reelsboro recycling site.

Culprits are ignoring rules that prohibit dumping of household garbage at the Reelsboro recycling site.

REELSBORO – The Pamlico County Commission rejected a recommendation Monday night to close the Hwy. 55 recycling site, instead authorizing an expenditure to install ‘trail cam’ style monitoring with the intent of nabbing those who are dumping household garbage, non-recyclable items, and even in one recent incident – concrete.

Garry Cooper, Director of Public Services for the county, wrote in a Dec. 30 e-mail that “the situation was so bad this weekend (Dec. 28 & 29), I had to call two of my employees to work Sunday to remove the trash. It was so much trash on the ground (1,540 lbs.) they had to use an empty 30 cubic yard box to haul the collected trash to the Transfer Station in Grantsboro.”

All seven of the commissioners expressed outrage over abuse, including Pat Prescott, who is the elected commissioner from the township that includes Reelsboro.

“At some point it may come to that (closure),” she said, “but I want to explore every alternative first.”

Commission chairman Paul Delamar III asked County Manager Tim Buck to “formally notify the Sheriff’s Department and ask that they pay attention to that site while on patrol.”

Commissioner Christine Mele suggested the abuses “are a deterrent for people to purchase the new homes that are being built in that area.”

Commissioner Ann Holton asked for “additional signage” at the site, and also suggested Buck should consider “possible lights” in addition to her motion to purchase an eye-in-the-sky style camera – an expense unanimously approved by the seven-member board.

In other business, the board rejected another staff request – this one coming from Chris Murray, the county’s Fire Marshal, who sought a county ordinance to regulate illegal burning. A seldom-enforced state law – and one where Murray now has little or no authority — gives would-be violators free rein.

Open burning of leaves, tree branches and other vegetative debris is allowed without an Air Quality Permit, but state law prohibits the burning of non-vegetative materials such as household garbage, lumber, or synthetic materials – an activity Murray said is on the increase.

“This was a recommendation from the state,” explained Murray, who said two dozen or more complaints per month is not unusual. Murray added the calls typically report “mostly repeat offenders and it is usually done late at night.”

Murray said the current procedure works something like this: “People call the state agency that monitors it (air quality) and sometimes they (regulators) will send them (violators) a letter.”

But the commissioners were un-persuaded, voting unanimously to nix any proposed local law. Several cited possible “unintended consequences” and expenses that might emanate from a local ordinance passed as a substitute for an infrequently prosecuted state law.

“If you’re waiting on the state to do something about this,” said Delamar, “you’re going to get old fast.”

Auto recycling not for the faint of heart

 

Sodoma uses a vehicle known as a ‘rollback’ to transport a flooded car. Most vehicles are literally rolled backwards onto the bed of the truck, using a winch and rugged, steel cable.

Sodoma uses a vehicle known as a ‘rollback’ to transport a flooded car. Most vehicles are literally rolled backwards onto the bed of the truck, using a winch and rugged, steel cable.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

GRANTSBORO – Recycling cars is back breaking work, with any profit wholly dependent upon the vagaries of the economy – particularly the prices being paid for copper, aluminum, platinum, and sheet metal.

Throw in some used, but viable auto parts — which can often be a bear to remove – and Daniel ‘Danny Boy’ Sodoma, usually finds a way to eke out a bit more than minimum wage as a self-described “auto recycler.”

Sodoma, 47, learned the profession at an early age.

Sodoma, 47, learned the profession at an early age.

And oh yeah – “I’ll even siphon the fuel on some of them,” joked Sodoma, 47, during
a recent interview in the kitchen of his home on Highway 306, north of the Grantsboro stoplight.

“Basically I’m working two full-time jobs. Fortunately, my boss at Big M Equipment in Bridgeton will let me scoot away if I’ve got to grab a car from someplace – Johnny’s great about that.”

‘Grabbing’ a car is Sodoma’s term for driving a huge truck – known as a ‘rollback’– to wherever a junk or abandoned car might be.

A workshop, next to Sodoma’s home in Grantsboro, houses numerous auto parts, including some hard-to-find hubcaps. Many of his customers visit on Sunday afternoons to pick up an economical part or two.

A workshop, next to Sodoma’s home in Grantsboro, houses numerous auto parts, including some hard-to-find hubcaps. Many of his customers visit on Sunday afternoons to pick up an economical part or two.

“Many times I’ll take a chainsaw with me,” he said. “I picked one up recently that was sitting way back in the woods. I had to break the steering column. The winch on the rollback has a cable one hundred feet long, and I’ve got two thick 40-foot chains – so I can get into places and just drag the thing out.”

Business was great immediately after Hurricane Irene. Sodoma got a crack at all the uninsured, flooded vehicles. People needed cash after the storm, and almost always Sodoma pays.

“I pay right on the spot,” he explained. “And, I pay with a check that they can take to the bank and cash immediately. Everyone will tell you I pay the best – no doubt about it.”

Sodoma knows this business like the back of his hand.

In upstate New York, he had a friend “who did more than a thousand cars a year – now that’s really hustling.” But, in the same breath, Sodoma candidly concedes the image of his industry could use a touch-up.

“There’s no question that a lot of people are crooks in this business,’ he said. “But, I don’t operate that way. I picked up a Jeep the other day, and the guy told me the engine was shot. I took it back – turned out it only needed a water pump. So, I called the man and said ‘Hey, do I owe you any more money.’”

Sodoma expressed appreciation to his mother, Gladys, who recently returned to her roots near Buffalo.

“This is her house, and her yard,” he said, pointing to a spacious field where at least a dozen or so cars were neatly stowed in various stages of dismantlement. “I keep this place really clean – and you can’t see any of these cars from the highway.”

Older cars are better for the scrap metal value because they are heavier, whereas newer cars are better for parts. He’ll travel, too. He reels off almost a dozen counties in eastern North Carolina where he has been. And, he sees his business as imparting real value into the local economy. ‘

“I’m helping get rid of all these junk and abandoned cars. We’re recycling, which is good. And, we’re putting cash in people’s pockets. I hope to be doing this for another 20 years.”

Sodoma responds promptly to any call. Readers may reach him at (252) 571-1623.