Dead-livestock deal gets commission's OK

Friday, July 1, 2011

Marshall County has signed a contract with Appertain Corporation for the removal of dead livestock.

County commissioners voted 15-2 at their Monday meeting to authorize County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett to enter into this agreement.

Commissioners had to vote to suspend the rules in order to do this, because the resolution came in too late to be included in the agenda packet.

The contract is to cost just under $40,000 for the year starting July 1.

"It will be in the budget for next year," Mickey King told his fellow commissioners. "If we pass it we're promising it will be in the budget for next year."

Commissioners Don Ledford and Sheldon Davis voted against the resolution.

Davis could not be reached for comment, but, in a telephone interview, Ledford gave reasons for his "no" vote.

"Our county is still in an economically depressed area," he said. "We still need to be sure our dollars are spent correctly. It's irresponsible to add programs you can't afford."

Ledford pointed out that farmers have done without the service for a year, and said livestock producers he had talked to would rather dispose of their own dead animals than see their property tax raised.

"I don't know why they were so anxious to pass that," Ledford said, noting that there was almost no discussion of the resolution

Liggett admitted that the contract with Appertain was costing almost twice what the county used to pay Griffin Industries, but called the livestock pickup a "good service to have available."

Extension Agent Ricky Skillington agreed with him.

"It is a needed service for the livestock producers in the county," Skillington said. "Since the farmers pay the biggest part of the property tax, they're getting some benefit for their tax dollars."

Skillington said that during the year when no pickup was available, a lot of people had buried their dead animals, and a few had tried composting, a method that is successfully used in several states.

"I suspect the biggest majority dealt with it illegally," he said, meaning that carcasses were dragged to an isolated part of the farm and left for the coyotes and the vultures.

The difference in price between the two contracts arises from the fact that Griffin Industries is part of the largest rendering company in North America, so they were processing dead cattle into a host of useful products. Legislation designed to protect against Mad Cow Disease put an end to that: it became too expensive to isolate and dispose of brains and spinal columns. That was why Griffin ended its pickup service.

Appertain, on the other hand, will be taking carcasses to Middle Point Landfill, near Murfreesboro, and paying a disposal fee to Allied Waste.

This is a new business for Appertain.

According to their Web site, the company was founded in 1986 to partner with industrial and commercial firms with the goal of increasing recycling and augmenting manufacturing by performing contract manufacturing and contract packaging. They have processing and packaging space in Pulaski, Lawrenceburg and Mt. Pleasant.

All the other resolutions presented to the county commissioners passed unanimously, by votes of 16-0 until commissioner Mike Waggoner arrived, and by 17-0 thereafter. The resolutions included approval for: a continuing budget and tax rate; a hardware maintenance agreement with Local Government Corporation; an application for a litter and trash collection grant; establishment of new tire recycling fees; requesting consideration of Marshall County for a recycling hub; contracting with Bedford County for juvenile detention; and, the ambulance service contracting with Windsor Health Plan to, hopefully, improve the rate of payment for Medicare patients transported by ambulance.

The most popular resolution was the one to honor Cornersville Middle School, presented at the beginning of the meeting by Rocky Bowden.

It reads, in part, "Now therefore let it be resolved by the Marshall County Commission that we honor Cornersville Middle School for being among the most effective of Tennessee's nearly 1,300 elementary and middle schools in teaching reading/language arts and mathematics." Several Cornersville teachers were on hand, and were invited to stand up in front of the commission and be applauded for the good work they do with their students.