Commissioner: Nothing but trouble with recycler


The recycling center that Mille Lacs County has on the property of the Princeton Public Utilities Commission.
The recycling center that Mille Lacs County has on the property of the Princeton Public Utilities Commission.

The discussion by the Mille Lacs County Board about the county’s new recycling contractor apparently isn’t over.

Back in December, when the contract was awarded to a different contractor from the one that had served the county for 18 years, there was some debate between commissioners about who should get the bid.

The contract was awarded to J. Vanderpoel, Inc., Milaca, over Mille Lacs Disposal with Commissioner Phil Peterson voting against the motion.

On Tuesday of last week, at a work session of the Mille Lacs County Board after the regular meeting was concluded, there was another discussion about the new contract.

“I’ve had nothing but grief over this whole thing,” said Peterson as the discussion began.

After Peterson listed some complaints, County Administrator Roxy Traxler asked Peterson if he had any complaints in writing.

Peterson answered, “No,” but said there had been a lot of complaints about the new contractor.

He asked Traxler who was responsible for advertising the site and times for the Milaca operation, which takes place at the county’s public works site.

“It’s troubling, at best,” Peterson said about the site.

“What do you propose we do?” Traxler asked Peterson.

“I think we should yank it [the contract] and start all over,” Peterson replied.

The original site for the Vanderpoel operation was in downtown Milaca but the city said it couldn’t be located there and it was moved to the site of the county’s Public Works building.

The discussion continued, Commissioner Dave Oslin saying he hadn’t had much in the way of complaints about the site in Isle. There is also a site in Princeton.

Peterson reiterated at last week’s work session that while he didn’t hold a grudge for the 4-1 vote, he was against the approval of the contract with Vanderpoel.

Commissioner Genny Reynolds, Princeton, talked about whether or not the sites had to be staffed. She said the contract did not specify that the sites had to be staffed.

Commissioner Roger Tellinghuisen spoke, saying that the previous board (three new commissioners took office last month) had made a decision.

“Unless he really screws up … give the man a chance,” Tellinghuisen said.

There was more discussion and Traxler said she would check with the county attorney to see where the county stands, and if there are any issues to be addressed.

A sentence in the county’s request for proposal (RFP) reads that the contractor “provide staffing to monitor the sites, assist residents as needed, keep sites free of loose trash and materials, and provide information to residents regarding other offerings or places to dispose of unacceptable materials.”

But apparently the RFP was not incorporated into the signed contract and thus the sites do not have to be staffed, something that was discussed at length during the work session.

No board action is likely at a future meeting, Traxler said.

(Board action cannot take place at a work session.)