| By Billy Davis
He was garbage pickup when garbage pickup wasn’t cool, but longtime garbage man Conner Vick has ended his business after a quarter-decade of messy, personal work.
Vick, 74, stopped his private garbage pickup August 31, quitting after 23 years of pickup service.
The Panola County Board of Supervisors held a recessed meeting with Vick on Wednesday, September 14, where it heard him request "compensation" for delivering his customers to the county.
"I would like three months pay on each customer," Vick told supervisors.
Solid Waste manager Dean Joiner told supervisors Vick had 485 customers when he quit his service.
Vick said he charged $10.50 for customers 80 years and older and $11.50 for everybody else. Some lake customers who lived in weekend cabins got a half-rate on their service, he said.
If Vick gets his wish, a payment to him could be around $15,000 ? the cost of three months’ service at $10.50 each for 485 customers.
The supervisors took no action on the request, however, and District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins cautioned Vick that such a transaction is questionable under the law.
District 3 Supervisor Mack Benson told Vick the county doesn’t need to pay him for the customers since they need the service anyway.
"You can’t get anybody to buy (the business) from you?" Benson asked Vick.
"Do you want it?" Vick asked back.
"No sir, I do not," Benson said.
Vick told supervisors he stumbled into the business by accident when he was working under a clean-up contract at Sardis Lake. When he began hauling off garbage, word spread about "ol’ Vick" and his service.
Although Vick’s garbage service was a mom and pop operation, he reminded supervisors Wednesday that he was first in the county to begin a pickup garbage service.
County supervisors at the time had yet to progress to a pickup service and instead allowed dumping all across the county. The county later moved to roadside dumpsters before bidding out the roadside service. The county solid waste department eventually took the place of the contracted business.
"The states made fun of our garbage when they saw what we were doing," Vick said. "I asked the county to furnish garbage cans but they wouldn’t do it."
Prior to his meeting with supervisors, Vick told The Panolian he was quitting due to his age and because he had trouble finding good workers.
"In years past I had workers stay 10 to 15 years," Vick said. "Now it’s hard to find good workers because those without a job don’t want to work."
In recent weeks, the county’s solid waste department has been scrambling to add Vick’s customers to the county’s pickup service, Joiner told The Panolian.
"We’re working as fast as we can. People are being patient with us," he said.
After Vick’s departure from the meeting, Joiner suggested that the county invest in a small vehicle that can retrieve cans in hard-to-reach areas where the trucks cannot venture.
The vehicle is called a "retriever satellite" and could fit on the body of a small pickup. It costs between $50,000 to $60,000, Dean said.
Dean also suggested to supervisors that the solid waste department begin taking off on holidays since their work on those days is confusing customers.
"The last two to three holidays we were working but people didn’t put out their cans," Joiner said.
The supervisors took the vehicle purchase and holiday suggestion under advisement..