Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 27, 2012

Chipper idea sounds best, at least for now

TAHLEQUAH — Discussion on how to solve the city’s brush pickup problem has been simmering on the burner for years – some say a decade or longer. Mayor Jason Nichols has decided that’s too long to hash over an issue without taking action.

This summer, Nichols asked City Councilors Linda Spyres and Diane Weston, and Street Commissioner Mike Corn, to seek alternatives to the current brush collection and disposal system. For now, citizens leave brush by the curb, then street crews transport it to a solid waste site; from there, it’s hauled to Muskogee. But the brush isn’t compacted, so crews are hauling “mostly air,” and the city’s expending thousands of dollars each year.

Nichols has looked over the options, and believes buying a wood chipper, at a cost of $35,000 to $50,000, is a good idea. A few local residents who have been engaged in city affairs agree. The chipper, advocates say, would allow trucks to haul more than 10 times the brush in one load and cut fuel expenses. The chips could then be used at Tahlequah Public Works Authority’s wastewater treatment plant, or perhaps even sold to the public.

Predictably, not everyone’s on the same page. During Monday night’s council meeting, Corn commented to Nichols: “The thing about it is, you want it, so we’re going to be stuck with a chipper.”

Corn raised a few valid points. He worried that use of a chipper would require citizens to bundle brush in a “certain way”; this would mean extra work, which they would find upsetting. But while the folks doing the added labor might be voters, and officials understandably don’t want to upset them, this seems to make a rather base assumption – that local residents would be angry if asked to do their part to make the community a better place.

Corn was correct when he suggested this work might unduly burden seniors or people who can’t afford to dispose of larger items, like trees. But as Councilor Jack Spears rightly pointed out, the city should, and could, help out in such cases. Besides, he said, homeowners do have certain responsibilities, and tree removal should be one of them.

Another option, championed by the panel, is to contract for brush pickup through a Sand Springs company. Spyres estimates the city would pay a $1,250 mobilization charge every time the company came to town, plus $3,000 per day for the grinding process. But no specific information has been presented to show contracting the work out is the best long-term solution. Nichols and Assistant City Administrator Kevin Smith, who has many years of municipal government operations under his belt, both think a per-day approach is too vague.

Corn and Spyres suggested the city could stockpile brush collections for months at a time, and the contractor would be needed only a few days each year. But how much brush would there be, and where would it be stored in the meantime? Could it all be ground up in one day, or would this be a days-long process at a much higher expense? If it took only one day to grind the piles, and the company came in four times a year, the fee would be about $17,000 per year, but the city would still incur costs of collecting and hauling the brush.

Another concern was sparked by information provided by Corn. The Sand Springs company may be the only one in Oklahoma that does this work. What happens if it goes out of business, or raises prices? The city would likely have no other options, and would either be forced to pay more, or go back to the drawing board. And what happens if officials aren’t happy with the work? All due respect to city officials’ diligence, when governmental entities are involved, contractors can often get away with shoddy work. Ask any public school or university administrator; sometimes it’s just too much trouble to force a contractor to make it right.

If the panel believes contracting is the best solution, it needs to provide more data to bolster its position. At the moment, the plan supported by Nichols – which keeps the operation local and offers a long-term solution – appears the most viable.

As far as extra work for citizens, Nichols said: “All we have to do is muster the political courage to ask people to take some very reasonable steps before they put [brush] on the curb.”

“Political courage” is sadly lacking on the state and national levels these days. It’s refreshing when officials step outside that stereotype.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks