The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 20, 2008

Township officials air gripes about Tri-County garbage pickup

By Joe Pinchot

MERCER COUNTY — A number of Mercer County township officials have gotten complaints from residents about their garbage hauler, Tri-County Industries in Pine Township.

A company spokesman said a rash of employee injuries left him scrambling for workers that caused most of the problems, and he is clearing them up as quickly as he can.

“We feel we got them under control,” said General Manager Jerry Bowser.

Delaware Township Supervisor Dan Micsky told the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments board Wednesday that residents have reported being missed.

“We have one lady, they refuse to go back her lane,” Micsky said, noting that garbage trucks have never balked before.

“Our secretary gets three, four calls a day,” he said.

Jefferson Township Supervisor Richard Brandes and Lackawannock Township Supervisor Richard Schuller said they have heard of Tri-County coming a day late, and at 3 or 4 a.m. when their contract specifies that no pickup begin before 6 a.m.

Findley Township Supervisor Andy Tomson added that Tri-County has balked at taking items even when residents have unlimited pickup.

Bowser said he had seven guys call off with injuries in a two-week period. Although Bowser called out relief drivers and started hiring new employees, he has been short of workers, he said.

In some cases, daily routes were not finished, and relief and new workers were not familiar with the routes, so some customers were mistakenly missed, Bowser said. Garbage collection took precedence over recycling collection, and main routes were favored over side roads, he said.

The fill-ins also were unwilling to go down some roads on bad-weather days, Bowser said.

Hiring new workers takes more time than it used to because candidates need to pass physicals and drug tests before they can be hired, and the process can take at least two weeks, Bowser said.

Bowser asked township officials to be patient until the staff is replenished. Three of the injured employees are back on the job, he said.

Concerning the complaints about coming to town too early in the day, Bowser said he will check the contracts.