City's sanitation director fired after recycling woes

The city of Fort Smith fired its sanitation director Wednesday.

Mark Schlievert had been under scrutiny since it was revealed last week that Fort Smith had been picking up recyclable waste for the previous 10 months and sending that material to a landfill instead of recycling it.

Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman said he couldn't comment about Schlievert's termination, but when asked if it had anything to do with recycling, Dingman said, "I'd say it's related to that, yes."

Dingman said Fort Smith spent an estimated $300,000 to $340,000 over the previous 10 months collecting recyclable waste that wasn't being recycled. He said the city's trucks that pick up recyclable material are also used to collect residential yard waste.

Last Thursday, Dingman said he had been told by Schlievert that Fort Smith recycled waste until November, when Green Source Recycling of Clarksville refused to accept any more material from Fort Smith.

After checking records, Dingman said it was determined that the last tonnage of recyclable material was taken to Green Source in June or July.

Dingman said the Clarksville facility takes recyclable material for its nine-county solid-waste district, and Sebastian County isn't in that district.

"The volume that we added to their existing volume was just too great for them to handle," he said.

Green Source is part of the West River Valley Regional Solid Waste Management District, which is composed of Conway, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Perry, Pope, Scott and Yell counties.

Dingman said Fort Smith is looking for a new sanitation director.

"We are actively looking for a solution," he said.

Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken confirmed that Schlievert had been "dismissed" but said he couldn't comment further.

Fort Smith doesn't charge residents for recycling in their sanitation fee.

Last week, Justin Sparrow, director of Green Source, said he spoke with Fort Smith officials in October or November and told them the company didn't want the city's recycling material.

Green Source's single-stream recycling line wasn't set up to receive the large volume of material Fort Smith's sanitation department had sent in the past, Sparrow said.

Dingman said Fort Smith officials were under the impression that Green Source's refusal to take the city's recycling material was temporary but that it possibly would resume taking it in the fall.

Dingman said that when officials in Fort Smith called Green Source in October or November to try to resume sending the city's recycling to Clarksville, Green Source refused to take any.

Fort Smith put out a news release May 1 that announced it had been dumping its recyclable material in a landfill.

Schlievert had been Fort Smith's sanitation director since April 2016.

NW News on 05/11/2017

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