Tears and Laughter: Talking trash in Wilcox County 

Several residents in several areas of the county had their trash picked up late this past week. Some didn’t have it picked up at all. Some had neighborhood dogs strew it all along the roadway and many at this point are wondering exactly what in the hell is going on with the garbage.  

Wilcox is not known for being good at managing water and trash services. Lamison still doesn’t have county water, but there has been progress overall. When I first moved here in 1996, there was no trash pick-up. There were huge dumpsters placed throughout the county and that is where everybody took their garbage. The county would empty the dumpsters on a routine basis, but not before they were overflowing and you could tell when you were passing them in the dark. 

So it was a great day in Wilcox County when pick-up service started. There have been different contracts along the way with different companies. The county of course also made an unsuccessful attempt at handling it themselves, but the latest contract is with Advanced Disposal.  

In last week’s column, I mentioned that Advanced Disposal was threatening to suspend services if payment was not made. The county owed Advanced $266,000, not including what they will be billed for October. They paid $80,000 on Friday, October 13 and another payment of $40,000 was expected to be paid as of Friday, October 20. In an email, Advanced Disposal communicated to the county commissioners, “The money should be on hand as customers have been paying for services.” 

Chairman of the commission, John Moton, Jr. responded, “I do understand his stance and agree that the money should be on hand but due to their over-billing and 18 to 20% nonpayment on the west end of the county; unfortunately the money is not on hand. In the past we’ve had to use monies from the general fund to cover short falls in solid waste. Our general fund can’t afford to do this and continue to make payroll til January.” 

He described it another way in a private message sent to me by a reader who had both been questioning me and messaging Chairman Moton. I don’t know that she meant to send me his reply, but in it he was more than generous in explaining the math behind the money. “I am the chairman of the commission and have no more access to county funds than you do. The Advance Disposal account is behind because: 1.They have been over-billing us by 700 customers @ $14+ per customer and we just found that out after we got a new solid waste officer to finally do a house count. 2. There are also 714 nonpaying customers that we pay for every month because they refuse to pay and we have not been able to force collections.  3. There are over 400 SSI customers exempted from payment and we are forced by law to pay $14+ per month for them. Now let’s do the math: 1114 nonpaying customers + 700 customers overbilled by Advanced Disposal = 1814 payments per month by Wilcox County (you following me?) 1814 x $14.35 = $26,030.90 x 12 months = $312,320.80 per year extra payment by Wilcox County. So as you can see; the only thing that’s being misused is Wilcox County. Point Blank. Period!!!” 

The vice-chairman, Bill Albritton, wishes to assure the public their garbage service will continue and that Advanced Disposal has no plans of discontinuing pick up as long as the county is making an effort to get current and keeps in communication.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Tears and Laughter: Wilcox didn’t get near first at everything last without poor leadership 

In all of the years I have been writing about Wilcox County I have learned that no matter how low the county ranks or how obvious the ineptness becomes, there will always be somebody wanting to speak in defense of local leadership. Everybody seems to be related, and there may be an unhealthy mix of cronyism. All anyone who is curious needs to do is look around. 

Every school in the county has challenges on some level. Two public school students have taken guns to school in less than a month. A fifth-grader at J.E. Hobbs Elementary threatened to shoot her teacher, and a 17-year-old was arrested for carrying a deadly weapon at Wilcox Central High School – for protection.  

Last week four vehicles were broken into at Roland Cooper Boat Ramp and a bomb squad out of Montgomery was called in to check out a suspicious package in a car parked at a gas pump at the QV. It was not a bomb and the QV did not blow up. It was drugs. Just the week before the QV had its glass doors shattered in the night for a pack of Newport’s. There was also a fatal hit and run in McWilliams, a man found dead beside his car on Highway 5, and two men found dead from gunshot wounds in Pine Hill. 

All this was happening while the entire country was flying flags at half-staff and the Wilcox County courthouse didn’t have one. There was a public outcry and a flag was erected the next day and has flown sporadically since, but leaders in a county where Uncle Sam pays for half of the groceries shouldn’t have to be reminded to fly the flag in front of the courthouse. 

Advanced Disposal is threatening to discontinue garbage pick-up starting next week if the county doesn’t pay the approximate $200,000 owed for services already rendered. There are questions as to where collected funds were distributed if not to Advanced, but even with all of this going on the Wilcox County Commission is yet to meet in October. 

The last meeting was a called meeting held back on September 29 – a Friday – at 5:00 pm, the time set by Chairman John Moton, Jr., who then did not show up. It was a necessary meeting because a county budget had not been a priority, yet had to be passed by the October 1 deadline. 

Three of the four commissioners who did attend the called meeting adopted the same budget as last year, minus the salary for the license inspector. This move eliminated the job held by current Wilcox County coroner, Mark Ramsey. It was a needed position for the county in that one of the responsibilities was to require mobile home owners to purchase current decals, but no citations have been written in over a year. The position held an annual salary of over $40,000 and no money was coming in to offset the cost. Past attempts to fire Ramsey were unsuccessful due to the saving votes of Chairman Moton together with Commissioners Ricky Powell and Charles Lawson. 

A regularly scheduled commission meeting should have been Monday, October 9, but since it was Columbus Day the chairman again changed the meeting to Tuesday at 5:30, and again he was a no show. Powell and Lawson weren’t there either. They are balking. They want the decision to remove the license inspector position reversed. Their absence was no coincidence. It was just another shining example of their poor leadership.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist