Landfill in Pasquotank County should respond to controversial questions

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PASQUOTANK COUNTY — Most people in this county have heard complaints about the operation of the landfill at various times over a span of several years. Among numerous critics, the most prolific complainant has been James Morris, a retired heavy equipment operator, plumber and general contractor. Mr. Morris has pursued this matter for several years, and every time he has asked a question, the answer provokes more questions.

A meeting of the Solid Waste Committee was held in the Commissioners Board Room, at the Courthouse, on March 5. Present were the Director, Mike Etheridge; plus Board Members, Commissioner Jeff Dixon; Mark Goss; and Board Chairman, Cecil Perry. As an open meeting, other attendees were County Manager Rodney Bunch, Mr. Morris and Commissioners Frankie Meads and Joe Winslow who arrived after the meeting had begun as well as others such as contractors who have a contract with the county relative to the landfill.

The meeting began by Chairman Perry asking for public comments. Mr. Morris was recognized and he read from prepared remarks, and documents, copies of which were provided to the Board members. His remarks essentially claimed that the county was paying money to the contractors, who have a contract with the county, and that the firms were not providing the services required by the contract and that a breach of that contract had occurred.


Solid Waste Director Mike Etheridge introduced Ben Barnes who is a retired inspector with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Barnes offered his opinion that the landfill is run well and disputed the claims made by Mr. Morris on the technical matters, but he offered no opinion relating to the breach of contract issue. Board member Mark Goss asked about the alleged breach of contract but he did not get much of an answer.

Barnes was asked various questions by Commissioner Dixon, who at one point looked disparagingly at Mr. Morris and raised his hands and shrugged his shoulders — which Mr. Morris took as a put down.

After questions for Barnes wrapped up, the Board heard a presentation by Etheridge, the Solid Waste Director, which included a video. The board members listened and watched but they asked no questions. As the meeting was nearing an end, County Commissioner Frankie Meads spoke up and asked if he could offer remarks because he had some questions for the Director. Although he is a Pasquotank County Commissioner, Meads was told his status for that particular meeting was that of a regular citizen, and that the public comment period had concluded before he arrived.

Therefore, Meads learned would have to wait until the next meeting – in six weeks — to ask his questions. Commissioner Joe Winslow made a few comments, but he was ruled to be an Ex Officio member of the Board and allowed to speak.

Clearly, Commissioner Meads had some relevant questions. There are various people in the County who have strongly held opinions about the operations of the landfill and whether or not the interests of the taxpayers are being served. Nor’eastern News will follow this issue and keep our readers apprised of future events.