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Councilmen call for investigation into trash transfer station, waste-to-energy facility

Guthrie says he has an appointment with Attorney General's Office to discuss his concerns

AEGIS STAFF REPORT

3:00 PM EDT, May 3, 2012

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Two Harford County Council members are calling for a state investigator to examine circumstances surrounding the proposed transfer station in Joppa, including the county's move away from the waste to energy facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

At Tuesday's Harford County Council meeting, Councilmen Dion Guthrie and Joe Woods defended their comments to The Aegis last week that Aberdeen Proving Ground garrison commander Col. Orlando Ortiz said it was the county that pulled out of a waste disposal agreement, not APG.

Woods said he went into last week's meeting with Guthrie and Ortiz fully prepared to accuse the Army of not being a good neighbor, only to find out it was the county that was not a good neighbor.

"Councilman Guthrie and I were shocked," Woods said. "Since everyone is mad and it's a hot topic, I suggest we bring in another investigator, someone else from the state."

On Thursday, Guthrie said an appointment has been made to meet with someone from the Attorney General's office.

"To me, there's just too much going on," he said about the complexity of the waste transfer situation and how the county went about buying the site.

"You wouldn't do it in your own life," he said about that process.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Guthrie said Craig had sent an e-mail to everyone on the council, but not Ortiz, critiquing Guthrie's and Woods' comments, so Guthrie forwarded it to Ortiz.

The county executive's office furnished a copy of the e-mail to The Aegis Tuesday afternoon. In it, Craig says he had a telephone conversation with Ortiz in which the APG official said "he was very upset with the way his comments to Councilmen Guthrie and Woods were reinterpreted in an article that appeared in The Aegis last Friday [April 27]."

In referring to the content of The Aegis' article during the council meeting, Guthrie said: "Every word of it was absolutely the truth."

He the challenged Craig, Ortiz, former county executive Jim Harkins of the Maryland Environmental Service and county environmental services director Tom Hilton to sit down in front of the council and explain the truth of the situation. Craig has said he plans to enter into a non-bid contract with Harkins' state-backed agency, under which the county will deliver trash to the proposed Joppa transfer station and then MES will be responsible for disposing of it.

"This really needs to stop. We really need to find out what the truth is. When we are fooling with taxpayers' money and taxpayers' jobs, we need the facts," Guthrie said.

Woods, who sources said sent his own e-mail to council members calling for an independent investigation, agreed with that reaction.

"This week's been quite shocking with some things," he said, referring to both the waste transfer issue and the fire commission bill, which Craig announced Monday he was withdrawing, much to the dismay of council members and members of the Harford County Fire & EMS Association (please see related story, this page).