The bid to turn over Lewiston’s dump to Casella was dropped long ago.

It has been over 16 months since privatizing Lewiston’s dump was rejected, yet some in this community still cannot seem to get themselves past it.

Even while I argued in this very newspaper that the proposal was disadvantageous to Lewiston, I have still found it in myself to move on to bigger and more important problems, such as increasing recycling, and therefore revenues, for the city. Yet, a number of members in this community – elected, appointed, private and anonymous – use the word “Casella” to elicit fear and hysteria among the rest of us.

Even as recently as Jan 26, Auburn Mayor John Jenkins – who admittedly did little research into the issue aside from reading what a citizen gave him – brought up a pending Lewiston City Council item regarding a Casella subsidiary and how it would possibly impact what Auburn does with its trash.

While awareness and being a responsible citizen is admirable, so too is getting information right the first time, especially when releasing information to the public.

Some have used the privatization experience 18 months ago as a rallying cry to run Casella out of Maine. The question is, had the proposal not come before the council in 2007, do you think we’d hear the level of discourse in L-A about Casella that we hear today?

The answer is simple: no.

That being said, why let proposed events from nearly two years ago drive discussions on separate issues today? Furthermore, why should we allow public servants to impede progress that will ultimately benefit the people who pay taxes in this town?

Lewiston residents deserve far better treatment than that.

A recent Lewiston Finance Committee meeting regarding the sale of our recycled materials turned into a fiasco when some of the community objected when another Casella subsidiary, FCR Goodman, was being recommended as the contracted broker.

The level of obsession with Casella by some is troubling and is proving embarrassing. The Lewiston Solid Waste Committee, myself included, has been charged with finding a better way to collect residents’ trash and get them to recycle more, not to determine who gets paid.

Progress cannot be made when purposely obstructed by some. And when it comes down to it, Pine Tree Waste, which collects the trash and recyclables and FCR Goodman, which sells them for the city (and which are both Casella subsidiaries) have done nothing but fulfill their contracts and provide a satisfactory level of professional service.

What most people don’t realize is that Lewiston is fortunate to have a dedicated staff and facilities to deal with something most people take for granted. We have hard-working folks who go above and beyond their duties to ensure what is happening is right and safe for Lewiston’s future.

As chairman of the Solid Waste Committee, I’ve had the unique opportunity of seeing how other towns handle their garbage; it is clear to me that Lewiston is a cut above the rest. Lewiston’s open dump days, an unfortunate method some larger cities still use, are over. By converting municipal solid waste to incinerated ash, we can extend the life of our dump, a truly precious commodity, exponentially.

The proposal in September 2007 has passed beyond the reaches of the rearview mirror. It is time to let go and to move forward with real solutions. I’ve been given the task of leading my committee to better take care of residents’ garbage and increase how much people recycle. Nothing would please us more than to make that a reality and make Lewiston live up to its All-America City designation and be a model for recycling and caring for the environment.

Trash is here today and will be here tomorrow. How we deal with it is our choice, regardless of who comes to pick it up.

Michael Dumas is chairman of the Lewiston Solid Waste Committee. E-mail [email protected]


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