June 14, 2008

Bibb Hires Company to Clean Up Debris

By Jennifer Burk, The Macon Telegraph, Ga.

Jun. 14--Bibb County officials have hired Florida-based Crowder Disaster Recovery to complete debris cleanup in the unincorporated area of the county, Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop announced Friday.

Sarasota, Fla.-based Solid Resources Inc. also was hired to monitor the cleanup, Bishop said. The two private contractors will relieve county crews of cleanup duties resulting from the Mother's Day storm that dropped an estimated more than 400,000 cubic yards of debris on Macon and Bibb County.

Crews will start making their rounds Monday or Tuesday, Bishop said. They'll work 12- to 14-hour days, seven days a week for the first two weeks of cleanup. Then, crews will continue to work up to an estimated 45 days, he said. Residents are asked to put debris in the right of way for pick up.

Crowder's bid for the job was about $1.3 million, and the bid for Solid Resources Inc. was about $300,000, County Engineer Ken Sheets said. Those figures could change based on the amount of debris removed, he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the county up to 75 percent of the cost of storm cleanup. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency will kick in about 12 percent, said Bishop, who added that he is negotiating with Gov. Sonny Perdue for the state to increase that amount.

The city of Macon also was finalizing its own bids for debris collection this week.

Officials from Mayor Robert Reichert's administration told City Council members on Thursday that they had tentatively signed off on an agreement. Normally, they would first require council approval of the deal, but the mayor is granted more leeway in spending during emergency situations.

Mike Cranford, chairman of the council's Appropriations Committee, said it is particularly important the city start picking up the debris given the potential fire hazard it poses. A Macon apartment blaze earlier this week was sparked by a pile of leftover storm debris.

"We're sitting on a tinder box," Cranford said.

The administration will return to the council later to request a midyear budget change to pay for the expense, most of which FEMA will reimburse.

Crowder, the county's contractor, will run several passes with their trucks through the unincorporated area to remove debris and trim trees that are in the right of way or could possibly cause a hazard in the right of way, said Tara Painter, the company's project coordinator.

Residents should move all their debris into the right of way because Crowder is not allowed to come onto private property, Bishop said.

Crowder Disaster Recovery is a division of Jimmie Crowder Excavating & Land Clearing Inc., based in Tallahassee, Fla. The company, founded in 1973, has at least 16 years in disaster recovery, according to its Web site, and has assisted in the cleanup of at least 10 hurricanes.

Hiring a private company to complete cleanup allows county crews to return to normal operations. Workers had been on the job 12 hours a day, six days a week until Monday. They had removed about 40,000 cubic yards of debris through June 6. Between 60,000 and 70,000 cubic yards of debris has been removed in the city.

"We urge cooperation from the public," Bishop said. "We want to make sure we can get as much as we can doing the rounds."

Telegraph staff writer Matt Barnwell contributed to this report.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.



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