Where are all the white goods?

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011

JACKSON — A routine request by Public Works Director Billy Martin at a Northampton County Board of Commissioners meeting resulted in a discussion of the prevalent problem of scrap metal thefts.

On Monday, Martin appeared before the board to obtain approval of a five-year agreement with United Salvage to dispose of collected white goods. The agreement automatically renews for an additional two years unless the county notifies otherwise.

The company picks up white goods (refrigerators, washing machines, stoves, etc.) and scrap metal collected by the county. United Salvage pays the county $50 per ton (2,000 pounds) for the scrap items.

During the discussion of the decision paper at hand, Martin said he didn’t anticipate the company coming this year to provide the removal service as the county had received only five pieces of white goods within the past month.

“Why is that you think,” asked Commission Chair Fannie Greene.

“If you watch around the county now people are going onto farms and stealing stuff,” Martin responded. “All the white goods, you don’t see it (discarded) on the roads. If you go out there and put it on the road it will be gone.”

He referred to businesses in the area that purchase scrap metal and white goods.

Martin added the white good items that do come to the county the metal internal components are often stripped.

“If the price of metal stays high (as it has been) we won’t have pieces to haul away,” he said.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill questioned if the new agreement with United Savage was different from the one before.

Martin said it was the same with the exception that the last contract went with a percentage the county would be paid for items collected rather than the price.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins explained further that the percentage fluctuated based on the market and what it was at that time.

“Fifty dollars per pound seems pretty cheap to me,” said Greene.

“Well according to Mr. Martin it’s 2,000 pounds of nothing, because we don’t have anything basically,” said Commission Vice Chair James Hester.

“In the past we have encouraged people to bring (their items) to the landfill and keep it out of the woods,” said Jenkins. “Well now the market is up, these people that have been throwing it in the woods are out in the woods (collecting the items). But the point here is to keep our county clean.”

Martin noted that scrap metal theft has gotten so bad that citizens have had to hire people to look after empty buildings.

“People are actually going into empty buildings and stripping the buildings of metal,” he said. “And that’s common across the state.”

The commissioners voted to approve the agreement with United Salvage for the disposal of white goods.