RES pledges to clean up its act

By BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,

On Monday, the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors decided not to move ahead with an option to terminate the contract with Resourceful Environmental Services.

Ronnie Ketchum, the new CEO/President came before the board and pledged to work towards making sure RES’s garbage collection services to county residents picks up.

The declaration was in response to a letter that was drafted and sent by Board Attorney Johnny McWilliams outlining the board of supervisors’ displeasure over how the company’s customer service has deteriorated.

McWilliams said in the letter that RES had breached their contract with the county and the board would terminate their contract with the collection and disposal company as of Jan. 15 due to poor service, however the company had the opportunity to send someone to talk with the board to see if they could resolve the issues.

The county lawmakers have received numerous complaints from county residents regarding RES’s unacceptable service. One such person was Dee Bradshaw, who was also present at Monday’ session. Bradshaw said he is upset because the problem with the garbage pickup service has been going on for at least two and a half years.

He said there have been weeks and even as much as a month when no one picked up his garbage and he had to dispose of it himself. “Technically the county owes me money because the service hasn't been rendered, which means you all owe the county back,” he said.

Bradshaw also said that his calls to the then CEO went unheeded because they would promise to send someone to pick up his garbage, but they never came. He said that he just wants to make sure he is getting what he is paying for.

District 3 Supervisor Dennis Holmes said that in the past RES trucks have been bypassing some of the small roads that are off main roadways and leaving people's garbage uncollected. “We don't really want to change companies, but something’s got to be done,” he said.

Although Ketchum is not new to the company, he has only been serving in his position since around the first of November. He mentioned a newspaper article in which officials reportedly said that RES was the worst garbage collection service the county has ever had. “That is not who we are, we take very much pride in picking up the trash on time and on schedule,” Ketchum said.

He added that his goal was to hopefully work something out with the county decision-makers. “We’re committed to Sunflower County and picking up your trash, but I also know that we’ve got problems,” said Ketchum.

He said now that the company is under new management; they are in the process of instituting measures to improve existing conditions. Ketchum said things would get better, which is why he wants the board to consider giving them more time to get it right.

President Glenn Donald said he was for giving RES additional time to work it out, but wanted to know how much time they are requesting.

Ketchum asked for six months to set their plans in place, which could possibly include spending another $100,000 on a new truck.

District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson asked about their plans to improve the services and Ketchum acknowledged that the issues they have been experiencing includes not enough trucks, not enough drivers, trouble with other equipment plus personnel and morale troubles.

Ketchum added that they are aware that how they've been running the routes doesn't work—they have been using the same route plan as the former county collector— and they want to explore other options and bring it back to the board.

According to him, they are currently running six routes for about 11 hours a day including travel times so they are considering adding an additional route, which raises some logistical concerns especially notifying residents of the new days.

District 2 Supervisor Riley Rice wanted to know what the company plans to do in the meantime to address immediate concerns.

Ketchum said they would use additional trucks and manpower; however, he cautioned that it may not run as smoothly as it could until they've had an opportunity to implement their plan.

Ketchum said he realizes that if they cannot satisfy the board and the citizens that they have already been served notice that the contract would be terminated. “But that's not our goal, our goal is to make you happy,” Ketchum said.

McWilliams said it would be better to finish out the contract if RES can satisfy the board. However, “If you are not going to get any service, you don't believe you're going to get any service, you are authorized to terminate that contract and advertise for a new solid waste collection disposal company,” said McWilliams.

McWilliams said he chose the Jan. 15 date to give the board time to advertise and take bids if they had decided to re-bid to change providers.

The current contract with RES still has one full year left on it. It ends March 2020.