Solid waste director refutes landfill foe

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Marshall County's solid waste director has refuted a statement made last month by an opponent of landfill development and expansion about inspection of property at Cornersville.

The statement by Larry Pefferly, an associate of the Tri-County Environmental Association, "is not accurate," Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas told the County Commission's Solid Waste Committee when it met last week.

Pefferly had been quoted by the Marshall County Tribune as saying that "he remembers attending a county commission meeting and hearing ... Thomas say he inspected the (former Commission Chairman Sam) Smith property." That was supposedly on a request from Waste Management Inc., the company that was trying to develop a landfill at Cornersville to replace Cedar Ridge Landfill just west of Lewisburg.

"He may well be right," Pefferly said Monday after being read Thomas' statement. "I said it seemed to me that he said that, but I also said I might be wrong."

Pefferly's statement to county leaders, he said, "is what prompted them to look up records." Those minutes and other records are being used by the Marshall County Ethics Committee as it investigates allegations of unethical conduct by Smith when he sold Waste Management an option to buy hundreds of acres where a landfill might be developed. Those records were reviewed Monday night during a non-voting workshop of the Ethics Committee.

Four days earlier, Thomas told several commissioners on both the Ethics and Solid Waste committees, that he has "never inspected the Smith or (adjoining Mickey) Cantrell property, nor did Waste Management ask me to do so."

Thomas' written statement reports results of his inspection of meeting minutes and attendance rolls for such meetings. They provide no evidence of Pefferly attending a Solid Waste Committee meeting before April 7, 2008. Thomas' statement also provides a time-line of events, indicating he didn't know until April 20, 2008, where at Cornersville Waste Management wanted to develop a landfill. Monday, Pefferly did not refute his quote, published Sept. 17, 2008, that he remembered saying he inspected the Smith property "like six months before January of 2008."

As Waste Management took steps toward finding a site that it might seen as suitable for a landfill, it did obtain assistance from county officials so it could know locations that were beyond a two-mile radius of various institutions including schools, churches, medical facilities and the like.