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Ask Matt ... to talk trash

The Lightning's intrepid researcher gets answers to readers' questions.

Q. Several years ago there was discussion of franchising solid waste collection in the county. Where is that now?

That idea has been pitched more than once in the past 20 years. I spoke with Marcus Jones, Henderson County director of engineering. He related that in 2008 a comprehensive solid waste study looked at the franchise idea. One option was to divide the unincorporated areas into districts and have haulers bid to get exclusive collection rights. Another option was for a single hauler to serve the county. Presently Hendersonville and Fletcher provide residential waste collection for their residents and Laurel Park contracts with a private company. One of the benefits of franchising is a presumed lower rate. Jones said that the average residential monthly fee in Buncombe County, which is served by a franchised hauler, is about $15; Henderson County residents pay about $25. Another reason to franchise is to increase collection efficiency and keep fewer trucks on the road. Following the study — and an uprising by garbage haulers —county commissioners dropped the franchise idea, saying that residents wanted to choose their own solid waste collection service. Of the 16 permitted haulers in the county, 10 offer private residential collection. One of the changes that resulted from the 2008 study was that all the residential haulers must provide a recycling service. The county does not charge for that tonnage at the transfer station.

Q. What happened to the NC Supreme Court candidate who ran the Hee Haw type ad with the guy playing the guitar? It was refreshing to hear some "Buck Owens" sounding music instead of the typical mudslinging.

That candidate was Winston-Salem lawyer Mike Robinson who ran against incumbent Justice Cheri Beasley. Robinson, however, didn't run the 30-second spot. The "I like Mike" ad was produced in Louisiana and placed by a PAC. According to The Progressive Pulse, a blog by N.C. Policy Watch, the Republican State Leadership Committee dumped $400,000 worth of last-minute spending into the race. It seems that the ad was a spin-off of one done two years ago for North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul M. Newby when he ran for re-election. Judge Newby, who once practiced law in Asheville, has been on the state Supreme Court since 2004. The Newby ad featured a banjo player and for some reason the Robinson ad used the same guy, this time playing a guitar. If you missed the ad, try Googling "mike song nc supreme court" and turn up the volume. Robinson needed a few more pickin' and grinnin' fans. He lost to Beasley by 3,991 votes.

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