May 21, 2018
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Piscataquis County to pull trash containers in Unorganized Territories

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — To be fair to all residents in the Unorganized Territory, Piscataquis County commissioners plan to eliminate the three remaining trash containers that are located in Ebeemee, Katahdin Iron Works and Williamsburg.

But that move hasn’t been well received by residents in that region, some of whom turned out to discuss the topic at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

“The bottom line really is an equity issue as much as cost, if not more so,” Piscataquis County Commissioner Tom Lizotte told about 20 UT residents Tuesday. He said commissioners get calls constantly from other UT residents who want trash containers in their areas. “We’ve gotten away from that, and you’re the only one that’s left.”

Lizotte said abuse of the trash containers also plays a role in the need for their elimination. “The tonnage that is coming out of the Ebeemee Dumpster is way out of proportion to what the population should be generating, which to me indicates that anyone who happens to drive by is using that,” Lizotte said. “They just seem to be a magnet for illegal dumping when you put Dumpsters in the UTs in the woods that are not supervised by a dump attendant.”

Instead of the trash containers, the commissioners have proposed that residents haul their garbage to the Orneville Transfer Station, just as UT residents in the Moosehead Lake region take their trash to the Lily Bay Transfer Station.

County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte offered options Tuesday for residents which included hiring a private contractor to pick up rubbish at $3 a stop or purchasing their own trash containers and paying to have the trash hauled to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. In either instance, the county pays the tipping fees, she said.

Brownville now services the three trash containers for the county at an annual cost of $30,188. In comparison, if residents hauled their trash to Orneville, the total annual cost would be $8,200.

“This plan is not going to help us out at all,” said Wayne Witham who operates Jo Mary Lake Campground for the North Maine Woods. “It’s going to be a serious inconvenience for us.”

Ebeemee resident Etheyln Russell said residents have worked over the years to clean up the trash that draws bears, and that was accomplished by having a trash container available. Without the trash containers, the trash again will be tossed into the woods and the scavengers will return, she noted. At least 200 people now use the trash containers in the winter months, and a higher number use them in the summer, she said. She said people vacationing for a short period of time won’t likely take a day out of their vacation to travel about 32 miles one way to dump their trash in Orneville.

Another resident said property owners in the UT in the region don’t get much for their taxes other than rubbish removal. He said it’s not up to the road associations in the region to provide trash containers for the rubbish disposal of visitors to the region.

The possibility of waste being tossed into the woods also could result in more gates being installed on paper company land, shutting off further access to recreation, the commissioners were told.

Lizotte defended the move. “Taking personal responsibility for your own household municipal solid waste is not a terrible thing to ask people to do,” he said.

The commissioners did agree to wait until the end of the year to pull the trash containers provided Brownville officials agreed to extend the contract, which ends June 30, to the end of the year. This would allow summer visitors to become aware of the change and make arrangements for the next year.

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