County approves new recycling vendor

With Commissioner Phil Peterson voting against, the Mille Lacs County Board approved a three-year recycling contract with J. Vanderpoel, Inc., at the board’s Dec. 18 meeting.

Near the end of a 10-minute discussion about the contract, Peterson asked if it was true that outside funds were used to fund the county’s recycling.

Told this was accurate, he said, “We have the right to reject, right? I suggest we start over.”

Peterson was one of two commissioners who voted at the Nov. 20 meeting to not make the switch from Jim’s Mille Lacs Disposal to Vanderpoel, Inc.

He said the $9,000 difference in bids for three years was “a lot of money” but said a lot of people like Jim’s Disposal.

Last week Jim Gerads, owner of Jim’s Mille Lacs Disposal, placed ads in the Mille Lacs County Times, Princeton Union-Eagleand Town & Country Shopper, asking that people support his company.

The ad claimed that commissioners had made a mistake in the recycling program and that there would be fewer hours with the new vendor.

Commissioner Dan Whitcomb, who voted with Peterson at the Nov. 20 meeting, asked Land Services Office director Michele McPherson a number of questions at last week’s meeting.

He asked McPherson if a site had been found in Milaca other than the county’s Public Works area, the present recycling site.

McPherson said a site had been found on Central Avenue.

Whitcomb asked if the times the sites would be open in the county were discussed. Yes, McPherson answered, and later she said the times would be the same as they have been previously.

Board chair Jack Edmonds interrupted Whitcomb at that point, saying comments should be kept strictly to the contract approval that was on the agenda.

Whitcomb continued to question McPherson, asking if it was true that she met with John Vanderpoel at a Milaca restaurant.

She answered that she had and that they had discussed details of the upcoming contract, and that it had been after the meeting at which the contract with Vanderpoel received initial approval.

“I just wanted to make it public that you were doing your duty,” Whitcomb said.

Commissioner Frank Courteau then referred to an unsigned letter that commissioners had received and there was some discussion about that.

When Peterson said he’d like to start the process over, McPherson said then there wouldn’t be a recycling contract in place during that time.

Peterson said he had talked to Gerads, owner of Jim’s Mille Lacs Disposal, and Gerads said he would keep on offering his services during that time. Peterson also mentioned the unsigned letter.

Courteau asked McPherson if she had changed her recommendation about approving the Vanderpoel contract and she said she hadn’t.

The motion passed on a 3-1 vote, Whitcomb voting in favor this time.