ZENA — A rural community meeting of about 300 people quickly turned hostile as Delaware County residents made it clear that they were not happy with a decision to take away their trash Dumpsters.

After almost an hour filled with name-calling and screaming from the angry crowd, with intermittent chants of “put the Dumpsters back,” County Commissioner Tom Sanders announced that officials would consider temporarily returning the Dumpsters.

The Delaware County Solid Waste Authority has provided free collection and disposal of solid waste for all Delaware County residents, excluding those living in Grove, Jay, Bernice and Colcord, for years, and Sanders told the crowd he understood that they were angry over the way the change was implemented.

“My phone just blew up,” Sanders said, referring to all the telephone calls he has received about the Dumpsters.

Residents of Zena, a rural community between Jay and Grove, are in an uproar because the removal of the Dumpsters leaves them driving 50 miles round trip to dispose of their trash.

Kent Vice, Solid Waste Authority general manager, offered the residents his “apologies for the problems with the program.”

The Dumpsters were removed to cut down on illegal dumping, he said.

“We had a problem with illegal contractor dumping,” Vice said. “The Dumpsters were never meant to be permanent.”

Sanders said the original plan called for all the Dumpsters to have been removed by 2000.

Delaware County residents approved a half-cent sales tax in 1988 to help with solid-waste services. In 1994 the county commissioners set up the Solid Waste Trust Authority. The sales tax generated about $100,000 to $150,000 per month, officials said.

But “the expenses are more than the sales tax (revenue),” Vice said.

The crowd then began chanting, demanding that the sales tax revenue be returned to them.

Vice noted that six “convenience centers” have been set up where trash can be taken.

The crowd’s noise increased with complaints about the centers’ hours and other issues, saying there was nothing “convenient” about the sites.

Sanders encouraged the crowd to attend the Solid Waste Authority’s general meeting on March 28.

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