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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.


The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Tri-Community Landfill Seen As Model Waste Disposal Site For the Area


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 29, 2015


FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine—Tri-Community Landfill (TCL) continues to be an attractive option for solid waste disposal with surrounding communities. However, most of them are committed to the costly, inefficient Presque Isle landfill.  A meeting was recently held where officials from TCL expressed an interest in allowing solid waste from other communities at their reasonably priced tipping fees.

   “We had sent a letter out to all the communities in Aroostook County and made a proposal that we could all get together into one landfill we could lower the rates we charge for the incoming trash by a substantial amount,” said Stev Rogeski, a board member at TCL.  “That offer was out there standing.  They're a little concerned about it - Presque Isle - I don't think they're open to doing anything directly with us because they just want to kind of keep their own thing to themselves over there.  But there are other communities and haulers that are starting to bring stuff our way.  We didn't necessarily go out and solicit this but we get a lot of haulers coming into our landfill telling us how much more safer it was than Presque Isle's, how much easier it is to get in and out of in bad weather.  When they're hauling these big loads and dumping them on top of the hill they need to have some good ground to do it on and it's pretty greasy, I guess, in Presque Isle.” 

   The Presque Isle landfill appears to operate in a very inefficient manner, making the tipping fees there more expensive compared to Tri-Community landfill.  TCL is a cooperative between Fort Fairfield, Caribou and Limestone and at $88.50 per ton for contracted communites has historically had some of the lowest tipping fees in the State.  The Mitchell Center at the University of Maine is planning a statewide symposium on how to better manage solid waste landfills.  They have tapped  TCL manager, Mark Draper to lead the symposiums in Aroostook County.  “We're now in a position where they're really listening to us.  They like what we're doing here and are seeking advice from us which is a good place to be,” said Rogeski.

   A few years ago the City of Presque Isle converted to a prohibitively expensive “pay as you throw” program where people within the Presque Isle landfill service area are compelled to pay by the bag for waste that is disposed of in their landfill.  This in addition to the property taxes that were already earmarked for those tipping fees.  This has caused Presque Isle landfill to effectively double its income while at the same time still suffering under a mountain of debt.  The Presque Isle landfill also has taken on an untenable debt load that their participating communities pledged to support. However, with the shrinking economy and population base those communities are finding themselves stuck paying a debt they will soon be unable to support.  For example, the town of Perham with a population of around 430 was pledged to a percentage of Presque Isle landfill's debt until the year 2041.  “When we signed up to be part of Presque Isle landfill it never went before the town and from what I understand all three selectmen did not vote on it, it was the decision of one selectman acting independently,” said Deborah Viola, from Perham.  “So, I think there should be a way we could get out of it.  It was never brought before a town vote, it was never voted on by all three selectmen.  It was never posted, it just happened.” 

   Rogeski said TCL brought in a consultant last year to explore merging with Presque Isle landfill.   “We were looking at Presque Isle's landfill with 600 acres of landfill capability and wanted to see if it would be advantageous for us to merge and combine our landfills and have that acreage available for the combined communities,” said Rogeski.  “He told us that when you look at the debt service on Presque Isle's landfill and how much per ton it was going to cost us to bring them onboard versus expanding at our own rate it really didn't make sense to merge.  We'd have almost doubled our own prices if we had done that.”

   Rogeski was initially a proponent of joining with the Presque Isle landfill until the numbers came in.  “It was my goal to go with Presque Isle landfill.  I really thought we should be doing that.  After doing a lot of work and looking at it we found we are very fortunate that whoever took the time to set up what we have at Tri-Community Landfill, they did a phenomenal job.” 

   In courting the neighboring communities, Rogeski said the board has decided that they're open for business.  “We're not necessarily soliciting anything.  If we happen to offer a better product and they want to come and take advantage of it we're not going to say no.  We don't put that in our budget.  Anything that comes from that is going to be above and beyond and will be surplus for us.” 

   TCL plans to talk more with the Presque Isle group.  “We certainly said that we would like to meet with all of the members that are involved with Presque Isle which include Mapleton, Castle Hill, Washburn, Wade, Chapman and some other communities.  The last conversation we had with Presque Isle alone really didn't give us a full flavor.  We wanted to make sure all the other communities are hearing directly from us what we're willing to do.” 

   Perham Selectman David Healed attended the meeting held by TCL and reported back to the Perham selectmen at their April 1 meeting.  “Tri Community had offered to take all of the seven towns involved in the Presque Isle landfill and we all could go over there.  That was dead on arrival because Presque Isle wasn't agreeable to even consider that,” said Heald.  “The reason I feel that the meeting came forward is because the haulers in some of the communities aren't hauling to Presque Isle all of the time, or any of the time.  That may create, according to the information we received, a situation where they will not break even at the landfill.”

   It was then suggested that the Presque Isle deficit will be thrown back on the member communities based upon their pledged percentage of the Presque Isle landfill's debt.  “We spoke right up and said that is not going to be received well by the towns,” exclaimed Heald.

   There are sixteen different haulers that currently haul to TCL from the surrounding area.  This has led to concerns by some that it will cause TCL to reach its capacity sooner than expected.  Rogeski said that is not a major concern for the foreseeable future.  “If we take all of the stuff we currently take in we would have the capacity to take trash until 2079.  That doesn't keep us from expanding.  We've got 200 acres and we're really only using about 40 right now.  Another thing to understand is 2079 is a long ways away and there is new technology coming out that will be dealing with landfill waste.  For example there's a technology being developed right now that would take a cubic yard of waste and condense it to fill a coffee cup with no environmental issues.  So when you're looking at being out there fifty years from now we're pretty comfortable that we're not going to have any problems to continue the landfill past 2079. 

   The consultant TCL hired indicated TCL has 1.6 million cubic yards of capacity.  He said by the time the landfill gets to 2079 the old trash will be compacted enough that more can be piled on top of it without exceeding the maximum height they're licensed for.  “The amount going into the landfill has dropped over the last fifteen years,” said Rogeski.  “We used to put in the landfill 35,000 to 36,000 yards a year; we're somewhere now around 25,000 yards.”



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