Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The SCPR spoke with Mayor David Held last evening and asked him numerous questions about the city of North Canton being dealt with by the Ohio Environmentaql Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) as well as the Army Corp of Engineers and the Stark County Health Department over the city's illegal backfilling of street sweeping debris (considered to be "solid waste" as opposed to "yard waste") in a lot adjacent to North Canton's water and waste treatment plant located on Freedom Avenue in Jackson Township.

Ask questions?

Yes, ask questions.

So what is the big deal?

Well, North Canton citizen Chuck Osborne was not permitted to do so (nor make a prepared statement) during the "Public Speaks" portion of the North Canton City Council meeting of Monday evening.

The Report is told that Osborne was muzzled by North Canton City Council president Daryl Revoldt from reading his prepared statement of the dumping topic and ask follow-up questions because Revoldt feared that Held would provide answers that would get North Canton "deeper into the doo-doo" with Ohio EPA et al than it was already was.

So when the SCPR received a telephone call from Mayor Held, it was a "big deal!"

What did Held have to say?

To put it in a nutsehell, Held said that North Canton was merely doing what many other political subdivisions and government agencies throughout Stark County and, indeed, Ohio have been doing for years and had the misfortune of being turned in to the O-EPA.

 Mayor Held gave the SCPR an interesting example.  He said that material picked up by a street sweeper is "solid waste" whereas if it is sucked up by mechanism with a hose, the material is defined by Ohio EPA rules to be "yard waste" which makes all the difference in the world in terms of how one may dispose of the material.

According to Held, the former has to go into a landfill while the latter can be used as back-fill as North Canton was doing.

Held went on to say that North Canton had not yet put together a remediation program, but that when it did that the cost of remediating could be $100,000 taxpayer dollars.  Moreover, Held emphasized that now that North Canton knows that its "back-filling" is not allowable by O-EPA regulations, the city will now be placing its street sweepings in an approved land-fill at about $200 per load.

Held told the SCPR that he plans to be in touch with Ohio EPA officials and ask for a clarification of standards so that political subdivisions have clear guidance as to what is and what is not solid waste.  He cited numerous other examples of arbitrary distinctions made by the Ohio EPA that put the very same activity into the solid waste or hazardous waste category depending on the source of the waste.

At the end of the day, the SCPR agrees with Held that it is a nightmare for anyone to have to deal with the likes of the Ohio EPA and that Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski needs to review the "double" standards that Held refers to and clear away the distinctions without a difference.

On the topic of muzzling Osborne, Held told The Report that he welcomed the opportunity to hear from Osborne and answer his question at the November 23rd Council meeting and "thank you - Councilman Revoldt - but I don't need anyone to protect me from myself" (a SCPR paraphrase).

One remaining question the SCPR has is this:  Will North Canton be fined by the Ohio EPA?

Answer:  it's anybody's guess.

But if a fine is in the cards, it will be North Canton taxpayers who suffer even more than they will suffer with remediation costs and the on-going into perpetuity expense of paying for landfill disposal of street sweeper debris.

Situations like the North Canton one, is an example why many citizens roll their eyes at the mere mention of agencies of government such as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

In other North Canton news, Held acknowledged that some North Canton council members are unhappy with city administrator Earle Wise, Jr.

The unhappiness, according to Held, is grounded in the handling of the street sweeper debris disposition.  The mayor went on to say that he is pleased with Wise's performance as city administrator and it is his call (not Council's - according to North Canton's Charter) who is city administrator and the duration of a particular administrator's service.

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