Tomblin signs landfill bill

ELKINS – Surrounded by a group of smiling elected officials, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed House Bill 4339 Wednesday at City Hall in Elkins, lifting the city’s heavy financial burden associated with the Elkins-Randolph County Landfill.

“I am honored to be back in Elkins today,” Tomblin said. “I think its a good day for Elkins and a good day for Randolph County.

The governor thanked Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, the lead sponsor of the bill, for “her efforts in getting this bill passed.” Tomblin also thanked Del Bill Hartman, D-Randolph, Sen. Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas, and Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, saying “I appreciate the members of the Legislature who are here today and all you do to support your community.”

Tomblin also recognized Mayor Van Broughton and City Treasurer Lisa Daniels Smith.

“Thank all of you for your tireless efforts to solve the problems that affect the residents of Elkins and Randolph County,” Tomblin said.

Tomblin said Wednesday’s signing was a great example of what can be accomplished when people work together.

“We find creative solutions to solve problems,” Tomblin said.

House Bill 4339 will provide the city access to Landfill Closure Assistance Program (LCAP) funds, allowing the landfill to be capped and closed.

“Back in 2000, the city of Elkins did not file to receive grant funding from the DEP’s LCAP assistance program,” Tomblin said, noting in 2000 he was a member of the West Virginia State Senate, and saw the LCAP program created to assist non-composite lined landfills that were required to cease operations because of regulations.

“The landfill closed here in 2011, and has not generated any revenue since September of that year,” Tomblin said. “Through the use of general funds and other city funds, local officials worked hard to ensure continued trash services for local residents – while picking up the cost – which was more than $300,000 per year.”

Tomblin said Broughton and Smith approached Campbell about the landfill financial situation, which led to the bill.

“With just two hours left in the legislative session, members of the Legislature passed House Bill 4339, ensuring that monies from the Solid Waste Authority Closure Cost Assistance Fund could be made available to round up operations at the Elkins Randolph County Landfill,” Tomblin said. “The city can now apply for the more than $8 million needed to close the landfill from the Solid Waste Authority and pay off any final expenses related to closing the landfill.

“In West Virginia, we are united by our desire to do all we can to improve our state, whether that be improving our education system, combating substance abuse issues or creating new jobs for our people,” Tomblin said. “The people at the city, county, state and federal levels are willing to work together to find common sense solutions.”

Broughton presented Tomblin with a key to the city.

“You are welcome anytime – and you don’t need a key. Our city is always open for you,” Broughton said,

Following the ceremonial signing of the bill, Broughton said it was a proud day for residents of Elkins.

“This was huge,” Broughton said. “We are excited and we are moving forward.”

Broughton said several former Elkins mayors attended Wednesday’s bill signing, including Virgil Broughton, Jimmy Hammond, Willard Herron, Steve Shepler, Judy Guye Swanson and Duke Talbott.

Elkins City Clerk Sutton Stokes said passage of the landfill bill is the best financial news the city of Elkins has received in a generation.

“The staff who worked on this – Mayor Broughton, Lisa Daniels Smith, Delegate Campbell – really served the public well by putting this together and making the case they did,” Stokes said. “The people of Elkins should be ecstatic that this burden of ongoing obligations related to the landfill have been lifted. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and that is going to free up funds for other important projects.”

Tomblin said the opening of the landfill closure fund is going to be a big help to Elkins.

“This will allow them to apply for grants through (the state Department of Environmental Protection) and I think it will be a big help to the city and the county,” the governor noted.

“It’s always great to be back in Elkins,” Tomblin said. “I met two new residents in Elkins, one from Chapel Hill, N.C., and one from San Antonio. One said they traveled all over the country, and they had a checklist of 35 things they were looking for in a place to live. Elkins had 34 of those items.”