Landfill resolution provides good civics lesson

A public meeting in St. Pauls on Monday that included a few residents who live near the county landfill and a handful of county officials turned out to be mostly a yawner, and that was a good thing. The meeting served a valuable purpose, which was to alleviate some worries those residents had concerning their property and how an expansion at the county landfill might affect it, but it had a secondary benefit as well, providing a civics lesson on how good government should work.

As for the residents’ worries, they had some bad information.

The county recently announced, as is required by state law, its plans to enter into a next phase at the county landfill, which means excavating another part of it to grab soil to bury more garbage. The confusing was from the use of the term of “expansion” of the landfill, because in this instance, expansion does not mean going and getting land beyond the existing boundaries of the landfill, but simply moving onto another location inside those boundaries.

Residents, confused by notices that were left at their doors, attended the Nov. 6 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, but that meeting didn’t provide the forum necessary to fully answer all the questions so Commissioner Lance Herndon, who represents the St. Pauls community, scheduled Monday’s question-and-answer session.

Among those who attended were County Manager Ricky Harris, County Attorney Patrick Pait, Assistant County Manager Jason King, and Herndon, who all answered questions about possible expansion, the coyote problem in the area, what happens if there is an emergency at the landfill, and other relevant matters.

One thing we can assure all Robeson County residents, not just those living near the landfill, when it comes to room to take out the county garbage, our local government is blessed with plenty of it. It is an underrated perk of having more than 950 square miles as does Robeson, the most of any county in the state.

All this, as we said early on, is an example of how good government works.

The county followed state law in announcing its expansion plans, but there was confusion, and residents raised their voices so that they good get clarity. When that could not be provided to their satisfaction at a regular commissioners’ meeting, a public meeting was scheduled.

We believe that the residents who had concerns going into Monday’s meeting left confident that nothing sinister was afoot. They got that peace of mind by going to the government and asking questions.

We deal with all the local governments in this county, to include the school system and the Lumbee Tribal Government, and no one pesters them for answers more than do we. With the exception of our school system, which is governed by a school board dominated by members who are non-responsive, we find the municipal administrations and boards to be both helpful and transparent, as the county was in this instance.

Sometimes all that is needed is for the process to be given a chance to work.