Correction: Red Box+OBX was misidentified in the original version of this story. It is corrected below.
By Connie Leinbach
The trash bins at the Ocracoke Convenience Site still have not been emptied, but a few of them have been relieved to make way for more trash.
The bins have been overflowing for several weeks now and Hyde County officials don’t know when David’s Trash Service, with whom the county contracts to haul trash, will be back on the island.
Although their contract expired Dec. 31, they agreed to a 90-day extension while the county prepares a request for bids, Kris Noble, Hyde County manager said at the board of commissioners meeting Jan. 6.
In an interview Monday, Noble said Hyde County Solid Waste Supervisor James Blount was on the island to free up some space.
“He’ll be there today through Wednesday to get to some of the backlog of trash,” she said.
Noble said she is working on trying to get the bid proposal out this week and is looking to award a new contract at the March 2 commissioners meeting. Drafting a bid proposal this fall was set back due to having to deal with Hurricane Dorian disaster relief.
She also said David’s has not been in contact with her, though she’s noticed through social media that the business recently was sold.
A call by the Ocracoke Observer to the David’s Trash Service number went to voice mail and was not returned.
Noble said that the county pays David’s, who has the trash contract for the entire county, after they take the trash to the landfill. The landfill verifies the loads David’s brings, she said, noting that the average monthly bill is about $27,000.
“We only pay them when they pull the trash,” she said.
Three or four of the bins haven’t been emptied in more than a month.
Dave Johnson, the head site attendant since Oct. 6, said the last time David’s was here was just after Christmas. Subsequent trips were canceled because they said they couldn’t get on a ferry, he said.
“Everyone says the county should haul this,” Johnson said. “But the county doesn’t have trash hauling equipment.”
Until the situation can be resolved, the county has rented a dumpster from Red Box+ out of Mann’s Harbor for the site and also has engaged Smith’s Demolition Service to haul a few loads away.
Jon Ralph, owner of Red Box+OBX, said in an instant message to the Observer that they were brought in during July to help out with the extra trash during tourist season. “The county has requested we keep a dumpster there until an unspecified future date,” he said.
Smith has been hauling the flood debris from around the village to the staging site on the Lifeguard Beach parking lot since the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Smith is on its third and final debris removal pass through the village.
Smith’s help with relieving the trash is a separate agreement from their debris removal contract, Noble said.
“We can’t co mingle trash and debris,” she said.
Noble said Blount is working with Red Box to get more boxes.
At least we have a Red Box and some help from Smith’s, said Ocracoke’s county commissioner Tom Pahl.
He wants the next contract with whomever is chosen to correct flaws in the one that was written for David’s.
“Part of the problem with David’s was their contract wasn’t bulletproof,” he said. “They always had an argument about why they couldn’t do something. I don’t think it’s as much a ferry issue (about their not getting here) as it is incompetence on their part.”
But until a new provider is chosen, “We will have to limp along,” he said, and be patient. “We want a provider who will happily take our money and happily provide service.”