San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 28th, 2008
On garbage and galas

COMMENTARY
By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large


Here’s a conversation you probably would hear only in the vicinity of Northern Hays County:

“I went to a fabulous gala the other night.”

“Oh, really? Was it at the garbage dump?”

“Well, no.”

“Well, then, it wasn’t really a gala.”

The gala at the garbage dump is made possible by Texas Disposal Systems operator Bob Gregory, the trashman with a twist, who’s got to be riding high now that his ten-year case with Penske Truck Leasing and Zenith finally cleared up in November. After ten years of fighting to make Penske haul away 1,248 cathode ray tubes (CRTs) to a hazardous waste site, Gregory finally won that outcome in a settlement.

The problem went back to 1997, when a Penske truck hauling Zenith picture tubes overturned in Buda on the way from Chicago to Mexico. All the tubes contained more than three pounds of lead and, thus, became hazardous waste when they broke.

The tubes were moved to the nearest dump, TDS, which is licensed to handle nonhazardous waste. Thus began a decade of lawsuits and counter lawsuits involving TDS, Penske and Zenith over who should move the tubes and where they should be moved.

An important point of contention concerned whether the tubes were still hazardous waste after being mixed with household waste. Penske argued that they weren’t. Gregory, priding himself on his environmental consciousness, said not only that the tubes were hazardous waste, but that any finding to the contrary would undermine hazardous waste regulations, since any waste could then be declared nonhazardous after mixing with household waste.

Gregory fought to the end and finally won with the agreement for Penske to move the tubes to a hazardous waste site.

Long before forcing the big corporations to properly dispose of their mess, Gregory and TDS fashioned their lands near Creedmoor into one of the most distinctive garbage facilities anywhere with its 800-acre game ranch and pavilion featuring 1,200 animals from 31 different species.

Most of the species aren’t even indigenous to North America. Among the African treats are the addux, the aoudad, the blesbok, the sable and the impala. One needs to be careful driving up to the lodge, as the animals roam freely.

The lodge is the crown, a beautiful facility made for great parties. The Buda Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC), which holds its annual awards banquet there Saturday night, has conducted functions there for years. The Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce (KACC) held its gala there on Jan. 24.

And you know Gregory is all the happier to have them after taking the high road, refusing to buckle against Penske, and making 1,248 CRTs hit the road.

Maybe that’s a bad way to put it.

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