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Residents to dump employees: stop talking trash

September 22, 2010
MEREDITH — Several users of the Meredith Solid Waste Facility have approached the selectmen with allegations of employee misconduct.

On Monday a group of residents gathered at the selectmen's meeting to air a long list of grievances against station management and employees. The facility on Jenness Hill Road is open for use by residents of Meredith and Center Harbor.

Meredith resident Frank Marino said he has contacted Town Manager Phil Warren several times about the alleged mistreatment of facility users, saying he felt he had no other recourse than to go to the selectmen.

Marino said he has been yelled at and sworn at by employees at the facility.

He said there is a building full of items that had been thrown away that he alleged had been picked over by facility employees, which Warren said is a violation of employee policy. Marino said Warren asked to see photos of the pile and he took some but was met with a wall of bodies and was pushed away by employees.

Marino said he was told the items were being held aside for a local woman whose house burned, but he did not believe the story as there were non-household items as part of the collection.

"It's time to start taking complaints about these employees seriously," Marino said.

Meredith resident Holly Tetreault said she has been in regular communication with members of the board regarding the facility.

Tetreault said she heard the woman, whom Marino was told was the recipient of the items, tried to park in a handicapped parking spot with a rearview mirror card indicating she was allowed to do so. Tetreault said an employee yelled at her to move her car because it was in a handicapped spot and an argument ended with the police being called.

Tetreault also said her husband, who lost four fingers in an accident, set one bag of cans down while depositing another and was yelled at to move the bag.

Tetreault said just that day she went to the facility to get rid of a few bags of leaves and sat down at a picnic table. She said exactly eight minutes later, she was approached by the police, who had allegedly been called by an employee.

"The attitude at the dump is beyond belief," Tetreault said.

Tetreault urged those with complaints to put them in writing and submit them to the Town Manager.

"We pay these people's salaries, we deserve to be treated with a little respect," Tetreault said.

"In my view, there is a problem at that dump," said Meredith resident Stephen Hoedecker.

Hoedecker echoed sentiments from other residents about mistreatment by employees.

"I will tell you I've been threatened by the people at the dump no less than three times to have the police called," Hoedecker said. "What has a town come to when a peaceful human being is threatened with the police?"

Hoedecker said the facility's store is completely disorganized.

"How can you retain any dignity whatsoever when you have to rummage through a box?" Hoedecker said. "I think we have an opportunity to create something that doesn't exist."

Other residents of Meredith and Center Harbor had similar stories and suggestions for how the facility could be cleaned up.

Marino also protested the town's policy against station visitors picking items from the piles due to liability reasons. Marino said there have been many valuable items that would have otherwise been taken apart as scrap, which he said does not fetch much revenue compared to the value of the item itself.

"All of the furniture in my studio save for one drafting table came from the dump," Hoedecker said.

Tetreault said there is more risk of liability from the lack of lifeguards at the town beaches than from picking items at the transfer station.

Acting Board Chair Colette Worsman said the town will look into the allegations.

"I think at this point it's become clear to this venue we have some investigating to do," Worsman said.

Warren asked people to send in written statements on the alleged activity. Warren also said he will put in extra effort to make sure the employee policy against picking is enforced.

The matter will be taken up again at the Nov. 1 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Public Works Director Mike Faller said he was recently made aware of the allegations. Faller said investigation and management of the issue is ongoing.

Martin Lord Osman
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