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Changes at the landfill

New heavy equipment, a second scale and scale house, flowers and a soda pop machine are the positive changes while a threatening letter from a previous operator is the negative
Most of the changes coming at the county landfill are aimed at better serving the public, although one issue from the past operator is still to be resolved.
   The issue was delivered to the county court recently and comes from the attorney hired by the previous landfill manager, Bruce Ricks. According to the letter, Ricks was summarily dismissed after six years of service without written warning. Ricks' attorney also informed the court that he is entitled to due process, prior notice of any charges, notice of the kinds of sanctions brought against him, and given an opportunity to refute the charges.
   That, the letter pointed out, did not happen and therefore the employee (Ricks) may recover accrued damages, damages from emotional distress and punitive damages against the employer, the county. The attorney asks that the county produce a complete copy of Ricks' personnel record, pay him $40,000 and change his employee record to reflect a volunteer resignation.
   Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said he couldn't comment on the situation, other than pointing out that there are no legal actions pending against the county from Ricks. The request for personnel documents is something any employee or former employee can make, Cooper said, and that request is being satisfied. The letters have been forwarded to the county's insurance company.
   Cooper did explain that someone may not have all the facts, though. Ricks has not been an employee for the past six years; until early in April he was under contract to the county and has never been a county employee. At that time the county court decided to retain Ricks on a part-time basis, as a consultant. This allowed the hiring of a full-time manager.
   Rick's replacement, Alan Keller has been busy since taking over, making things better. One change that will speed things up will be the installation of a second scale. Currently, people coming to the landfill have to wait to weigh in until those who have already dropped their load can weigh out. That has caused, in some cases, long delays.
   When the new scale is in place, with a new scale house centered between the two scales, there should be no waiting. Cooper said the court approved approximately $16,000 for the used scale and the computer software to run it.
   That new piece of equipment will have a second benefit, too. At the present time, commercial haulers simply pull in and drop off their loads, typically construction debris, after hours. It is all on the honor system, Cooper explained. With the new scale and an electronic gate, a very accurate reading will be available.
   The judge quickly explained that there is no reason to believe that the honor system hasn't worked, but this is merely a better management tool.
   Keller said that along with the new scale and scale house, the road leading into the landfill will be paved. When that happens, the landfill will probably have to be closed down for a day or so. That work has yet to be scheduled but an announcement will be made once a date is set.
   Keller added that the scale isn't the only piece of new equipment. Since he has taken over he has upgraded things with a new dozer and a scraper. It's all, he said, to make things better for the customers.
   "The girls have put out some flowers by the scale house," he added. "And we have a new soft drink machine, too."