Letters to the editor (04/21/12)

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A solid waste plan is in the works for the county
Editor:
I am a 24-year resident of Valencia County. For many of the same reasons cited by Mr. Kenneth Major (in Julia Dendinger’s well-written article “Trashing our treasured views” published March 14), I have also become increasingly concerned about the state of solid waste management in Valencia County.
In the fall of 2010, I appeared before the Valencia County Commission and told them I believed I could help Valencia County over this seemingly insurmountable hurdle.
Three successive attempts by the county at establishing new, more comprehensive contracts had failed; two via the RFP (request for proposals) process, and one via the RFB (request for bids) process.
After that meeting, I told two of the commissioners that first and foremost, Valencia County needed to have a plan.
A good solid waste management plan transcends garbage cans, dumpsters, transfer stations and our local collection and hauling companies and their trucks and their drivers. It goes far beyond landfills and fees and permits.
A good solid waste management plan is a fundamental change in the solid waste culture of the residents of Valencia County. That change must begin with the administration of the county setting goals and objectives.
It becomes a realization that we cannot keep doing the same thing we have done in the past. It is a plan to decide that we will do better than we have done before. It is an admission to ourselves that we cannot keep doing the same things we have done for decades and expect different (better) results.
The tons of illegally-dumped garbage out on our beautiful mesas are an alarming and growing symptom of our failure to plan ahead.
Every living person creates garbage and waste throughout their life, and each of us is responsible for the garbage and waste we create. We must all look into the mirror and admit to ourselves that there is a cost associated with the proper and environmentally responsible handling of that garbage and waste.
We are all responsible for those costs. As a member of the Valencia County Solid Waste Planning Committee, and as the author of one of the solid waste management plans presented to the county commission, I want to insure that we do not continue to make the same solid waste management mistakes we have made for decades.
I want to see Valencia County turn the corner and embark on a new and purposeful course. Some who have read my proposed plan said it sounded “nebulous” and “pie in the sky.” Unfortunately, those folks completely missed the point of my proposed plan.
There are several universal aspects to achieving perfection in the realm of solid waste management: First, there must be a commitment to deal with our entire waste stream; we must plan to do the right thing with every last shred of garbage we create.
That commitment, in the form of a document, becomes our solid waste management plan. If you have not yet read my proposed plan, read it and think about it. Imagine being a citizen of a county with a high a degree of commitment to being responsible for its solid waste stream.
Second, we must change our solid waste ordinance to be consistent with our plan. Third, we must solicit a contractor to carry out the plan. The RFI is probably a reasonable pursuit as a preliminary step; I know for a fact that there are companies out there that can, and will (and want to) come in and provide the complete package we need at an affordable price.
We must resolve to clean up Valencia County and keep it clean. We must educate our residents, we must recycle and/or divert as much of our waste stream as possible.
We must give everyone the proper incentive and opportunity to take responsibility for their trash.
When the concepts of my proposed plan (hopefully) finally get to the actual RFP stage, I hope to see that the RFP’s proposal evaluation criteria and proposal evaluation process are constructed and applied in a non-ambiguous fashion, which will not be open to subjective interpretation by the evaluation committee.
I firmly believe that Mr. Mike Vinyard, the county purchasing agent, is certainly qualified and competent to insure that happens.

Paul Alexander
Tomé