Columbia County hired a new solid waste contractor Monday on a five-year deal worth more than $10 million.
Justices of the peace approved by a 9-0 vote acceptance of the low bid from Waste Corporation of Arkansas. The company, which operates a landfill near Smackover, will pick up waste and recyclable material for $166,900 a month.
Justice of the Peace James Drake, who chairs the Quorum Court's Solid Waste Committee, made the recommendation to approve the contract with WCA during the court's monthly meeting. There was no discussion - seven of the JPs had attended a meeting last week when the bids were outlined in detail.
The only other bidder was the county's current solid waste collector, Get Rid of It. Get Rid of It bid $202,809 per month.
Randy Merritt, representing Waste Corporation of Arkansas, said the company will place an order for new collection equipment immediately. He urged county officials to contact him with any problems during the transition period.
The company will collect solid waste from approximately 12,000 home and business locations in Columbia County starting Aug. 2.
In other business, three Columbia County groups received resolutions from the Quorum Court as they attempt to get grants from the state's general improvement fund.
County Judge Larry Atkinson said that in the past, the state has generally funded only one general improvement fund per county and that as a result, only one grant from the county has been forwarded. This has led to what Atkinson described as "hurt feelings," therefore, all grant requests are being forwarded for a decision by the state on their relative merits.
In this grant cycle, applications were received from three groups -- the Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire Department, the Macedonia-Dorcheat Volunteer Fire Department, and Calhoun Heights Community Outreach Inc. They submitted resolutions to the Quorum Court asking that Atkinson be allowed to apply for grants on their behalf.
Justices of the peace approved resolutions on behalf of all three requests.
Mount Vernon wants $50,000 to purchase a brush truck. Macedonia-Dorcheat seeks $50,000 to renovate its two fire stations on Arkansas 160 and Columbia County Road 15. The Calhoun community requests $47,214.98 to construct a community center for Calhoun Heights Community Outreach Inc.
In a separate request involving county funds, the Bussey-Sharman Rural Fire Department asked for $5,000 from the county's rural community aid program. It wants to refurbish the chassis of its 1982 Ford tanker. The request was approved.
The Quorum Court appointed Bobby H. "Cotton" Staten to a five-year-term on the Columbia County Library Board. He will succeed Thea Pearson, who has resigned after continuous service since Oct. 14, 2003. The court adopted a resolution thanking Pearson for her service.
Justices also approved a total of $885 that will allow County Clerk Sherry Bell to acquire the administrative rights to make changes to the county clerk's website page as needed.
In other committee reports, Gary Burley of the Building Committee reported that work on the expansion of the county Health Unit is proceeding "in the dry" as contractors are now able to work inside.