A fiery email an Horry County Solid Waste Authority board member sent to an unknown group of people that was critical of executive director Danny Knight, prompted passionate discussion Tuesday by other board members, who called the email “mean spirited” and “disrespectful.”
Board member Dan Gray was on the hot seat at the authority’s board meeting after sending a Sept. 4 email describing Knight’s “method of announcing” a public meeting through The Sun News as “arrogant” and “ill-advised.” Gray’s email said the 2,000-acre landfill for which the authority is now making closure and post-closure 22 plans “belongs to the people, not unelected hired hands.” Gray claimed there was no mention of the planned public meeting by the authority board’s chairman or County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus about the meeting.
However, The Sun News learned of the public hearing from the authority’s August board meeting.
Gray apologized multiple times publicly during the meeting.
Lance Thompson, who acted as chairman in place of James Cokley who was absent from the meeting, said he felt the tone of the email was alarming.
“I was concerned about the derogatory and disrespectful tone of the email,” Thompson said. “I would respectfully ask that you, in the future, in the spirit of harmonious productivity of the board, that we need to work together. This, to me, is detrimental to us working together. I’m concerned by the tone.”
Gray said he apologized to Knight late last week.
“I spoke impolitic with you,” Gray said to Knight. “I wish that I could do it over again. I would have made the point that I was trying to bring home in a different way.”
He was hoping attention would be paid to a part of the email that talks about how government entities should be planning what to do with trash disposal after the landfill closes in 2035.
The issue at hand was a Sept. 12 meeting where solid waste officials met with community members to discuss what the public would like to see at the landfill property when it is capped. Ideas have included multi-purpose fields, softball and baseball fields, camping sites, biking and hiking trails and ponds.
A total of about 1,700 acres – around 45 percent of which are wetlands – are on the solid waste authority’s property, and officials are leaning toward doing something with the land instead of simply maintaining the ground when it is closed. About $119 million in current and future funds designated to maintain the landfill until 2065 sits on the table for these plans. The monies have been generated and will continue to be generated from fees collected at the landfill.
Horry County’s landfill on S.C. 90 is one of nine landfills statewide owned by local governments. Fourteen others are privately owned.
“I just need to do a better job of expressing myself,” Gray said.
Knight accepted his apology.
“I hope that some way or another you will be able to direct that passion to where we can all benefit from,” Knight said.
Knight suggested Gray send the apology to the people who received the initial email. Gray refused after the meeting to say who received the emails.
Other board members expressed concern with the email as well.
“That email was disrespectful to the board,” said member Mike Campbell.
Thompson continued, “I just hope that we can continue to work together with respect for each other.”
Gray quipped, “I’ve said it now three times, is that enough?”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.