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New piles of debris frustrate cleanup effort

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Disobedient residents and unlicensed tree service companies have hindered storm debris cleanup in Columbia and Rich­mond counties, officials said Sunday.

Wood debris dumped near Evans to Locks Road  Columbia County Emergency Management
Columbia County Emergency Management
Wood debris dumped near Evans to Locks Road

Pam Tucker, the director of Columbia County’s Emergency and Operations Division, said contractors have had to backtrack through areas previously cleared to remove new piles of broken limbs from February’s ice storm.

Part of the problem, Tucker said, has been that tree service companies hired by residents have come in to cut hanging limbs, but leave the limbs in the right of way.

“(The debris removal companies) are contracted to do two passes; it’s not like they belong to the county forever,” Tucker said. “The taxpayers may end up having to pay for this because the responsibility will fall to the Roads and Bridges Department.”

On Saturday afternoon, contractors removed a pile in the 500 block of Stevens Creek Road, near a four-way stop on Evans to Locks Road. Co­lum­bia County sheriff’s deputies later learned that the pile had been left by an out-of-state tree service company, Tucker said.

The company, which had a revoked business license, called the contracted debris removal company’s office hotline to report the pile and indicated that there were several other piles throughout the area. The sheriff’s office issued the company a warning, Tucker said, and it has until Monday afternoon to clean up the debris.

“This is only one example of how frustrating it is to have to pick up the same area four or five times while some areas in the northern part of the county have not even had the first pick-up,” Tucker said in an e-mail. “We are trying hard to finish, but someone is acting selfishly by continuing to drop off on the main roads.”

As of Saturday morning, crews have removed more than 531,000 cubic yards of debris in Columbia County and cut 13,051 hanging limbs. Out of the 48 zones in Columbia County, 24 have been completely cleared.

Richmond County has experienced similar problems, but interim Deputy Ad­min­istrator Steve Cassell said he isn’t sure how widespread the issue is. Most of the debris cleared by workers has been legitimate, he said.

As of Saturday evening, contractors have cleared nearly 601,000 cubic yards of debris in Richmond County. Of the county’s 19 designated zones, three have been completely cleared.

“We’ve made it clear that we’re not coming back through,” Cassell said. “We’ll have to look at it to see how widespread it is, but (the piles) may just have to sit there.”

He said authorities will look into the problem. Once an area has been deemed clear, residents must follow normal restrictions for solid waste collection.

In Columbia County, residents have been urged to call the sheriff’s office at (706) 541-2800 to report anyone putting debris in “100 percent cleared zones.”

New piles will no longer be picked up in Columbia Coun­ty, Tucker said. Any debris left out in zones that have been cleared will be the responsibility of the home­owner.

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Little Lamb
44083
Points
Little Lamb 03/30/14 - 08:45 pm
2
12
Whine, Whine, Whine

Pam Tucker is a hard working public official. But when she says, “This is only one example of how frustrating it is to have to pick up the same area four or five times while some areas in the northern part of the county have not even had the first pick-up,” she sounds like a whiner. The county should not go back to an area four or five times. She obviously is not in control of her workers.

corgimom
28545
Points
corgimom 03/30/14 - 09:00 pm
6
2
All those out-of-state

All those out-of-state workers dump the piles, they know that they won't face any serious penalties.

TCB22
609
Points
TCB22 03/30/14 - 10:18 pm
4
1
Options

Stop the problem or leave dead trees on the road. Sounds like she chose to stop the problem in the best interest of the community. Good.

american rose
237
Points
american rose 03/30/14 - 10:55 pm
5
1
Four or five times, and we

Four or five times, and we out in South Augusta still have not had the limbs picked up once. Pineview off Deansbridge is still waiting.

Just My Opinion
5302
Points
Just My Opinion 03/31/14 - 04:46 am
4
1
Little Lamb, I gotta disagree

Little Lamb, I gotta disagree with you here. To me, this sounds more like you don't have all the facts, and are just going off alittle of what she said. You call her a whiner, but then you say that they shouldn't go back 4 or 5 times? If it was supposed to have been done after 2 or 3 pick-ups, don't you think 4 or 5 times IS pushing it (that number is probably more) when she's also getting calls from non-picked up areas? What would you think if you lived in one of those areas that hadn't been picked up? And I can't see how you can assume, based on just this article, that she's not in control of her workers...that's a pretty harsh thing to say to any manager.

iaaffg
1624
Points
iaaffg 03/31/14 - 05:12 am
1
2
easy way to get rid of it: a

easy way to get rid of it: a match! why waste taxpayer's dollars on shams and ripoffs and cons when a match is really, really cheap?

seenitB4
81914
Points
seenitB4 03/31/14 - 06:56 am
3
1
Tucker is right

This isn't fair to the people who haven't seen the 1st pickup.

Pond Life
17606
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 07:14 am
4
3
This is what happens when you

This is what happens when you rely on the government to take care of you.

LillyfromtheMills
12674
Points
LillyfromtheMills 03/31/14 - 07:21 am
4
1
Sounds like

The tree contractors are cutting trees that don't have anything to do with the storm damage then instead of removing them - they are expecting the county to pick up. Pam Tucker cannot win. LL - I was going to ask if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed-but you posted last night :)

Bizkit
29493
Points
Bizkit 03/31/14 - 08:50 am
1
0
Well I think "some citizens"

Well I think "some citizens" are taking advantage of this in Columbia county as some roads were clear for over a week and now new piles. I'd make the owner responsible-if it has already been cleaned. You can easily burn the piles. That's what I did with what wasn't close to the road for pick up.

GuyGene
1218
Points
GuyGene 03/31/14 - 08:53 am
1
0
I do my own...

But, of course, not everyone can. I've worked in the National Forest Service, so have skills most people don't, and a chainsaw. We've left rural living skills, so not many can do their own tree cleanup, and this ice storm was big. Nature - it's out to get us boys.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 03/31/14 - 09:48 am
1
3
Flying pigs.

Say it ain't so.

Colummbia County residents did something "wrong"....and it was actually printed in the paper.

Little Lamb
44083
Points
Little Lamb 03/31/14 - 11:02 am
0
3
Read Carefully

Let's look at these sentences from the story and analyze them carefully:

Pam Tucker, the director of Columbia County’s Emergency and Operations Division, said contractors have had to backtrack through areas previously cleared to remove new piles of broken limbs from February’s ice storm. Part of the problem, Tucker said, has been that tree service companies hired by residents have come in to cut hanging limbs, but leave the limbs in the right of way.

No, Ms. Tucker, contractors hired by the county to remove storm debris did not have to backtrack. No, instead your command center chose to send them back to areas where private tree services piled waste on rights of way that had already been cleared.

Instead, the sheriff could have issued citations to those property owners who were disobedient (as so described by reporter Highfield in the first sentence above) ordering them to remove the unauthorized piles from rights of way.

I still say it was wrong for county-contracted crews to have picked up debris "four or five times" (as described in the story) in Martinez/Evans before they went to rural areas even once!

Marinerman1
4397
Points
Marinerman1 03/31/14 - 12:17 pm
2
1
@LL !!

You've made my 'naughty list' with your comment(s). It was a foregone conclusion that it would probably take two passes -- one for the initial debris, and the second for the stuff that was going to finally fall from the winds afterwards. The company picking up the debris, does not "work" for Pam Tucker -- they are contracted. They are trying to get the job complete. It does not have a damn thing to do about "in control of her workers". They are CONTRACTORS !! The ONLY thing I agree on is that the Sheriff should have issued a citation (NOT a warning), to the tree company for their revoked business license. AND by the way, the "rural" areas like Harlem are 100% complete for BOTH passes. And Grovetown is at 95%.

Little Lamb
44083
Points
Little Lamb 03/31/14 - 01:41 pm
1
1
Contractors

When a county government agency (in this case the Emergency Management Agency) contacts with a private company to do work for the benefit of citizens of the county, that government agency should have some government employee in charge of work direction over the contractors. If the contracted debris cleaners went over some streets "four or five times" (as stated in the story) before they went over other streets even once, then you can bet that some Columbia County manager okayed it.

Fiat_Lux
14854
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/31/14 - 02:28 pm
0
0
We had all our storm debris picked up, and then

a tree company came around about 10 days later and started cutting limbs out of trees in our neighborhood, saying that Georgia Power had ordered it done. A lot of the new limbs came out of trees that were no where near any power lines at all. It finally all got picked up, but I sure wondered if that last batch would ever go.

I wondered then and now if Georgia Power and Richmond County had actually even talked about this.

Marinerman1
4397
Points
Marinerman1 03/31/14 - 02:51 pm
0
0
I Wonder

The cutting contractor that is usually associated with Georgia Power is Aspluduh (spelling ?). They don't ever just leave stuff on the right-of-way, since they all have the chippers attached to the trucks. I wonder who it was?

Fiat_Lux
14854
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/31/14 - 07:14 pm
1
0
The company was called "Trees, Inc".

They weren't a local company but they actually may have been the ones who hauled off what they cut down.

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