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Solid Waste Authority board member quits over privatized recycling

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority board member Greg Sayre has resigned over concerns about a private company that took over operation of the Slack Street recycling center.

Sayre, a waste haulers and recycling lobbyist who was appointed to the Solid Waste Authority by the state Department of Environmental Protection, turned in a three-page resignation letter Thursday.

In the letter, Sayre said the solid waste board acted hastily in hiring a private company to take over the county's recycling program, and questions the background and qualifications of George Hunyadi, who runs that company.

"Yesterday I invested $29.99 in an Internet financial background check for George M. Hunyadi age 44, Ohio resident, owner of Innovative Organics, a sole proprietor company," Sayre wrote in his resignation letter. "It turned up seven IRS liens and judgments.

"I don't know how reliable those Internet services are, but I'm getting off the bus."

"What does that have to do with West Virginia?" Hunyadi said when asked about the liens. "All my West Virginia stuff is good."

Last year, members of the solid waste board voted to shut down the Slack Street recycling facility for safety reasons. They later reopened it as a drop-off only, but the county's recycling program was crippled.

Board members spent the rest of the year trying to figure out how to salvage the program, eventually deciding to sign a lease agreement with Hunyadi to take over operations of the recycling center.

Hunyadi set up a company called West Virginia Recycling Services to run the Slack Street facility, and started operations last month. He hired several former employees of the Solid Waste Authority to work at Slack Street.

However, Sayre says Hunyadi lacks management experience, has never run a recycling program and has not complied with West Virginia employment law. At recent solid waste meetings, Sayre has grilled Hunyadi about paying his workers through an out-of-state company, and said Hunyadi was not paying into the West Virginia workers' compensation system.

Hunyadi said Thursday those problems have been corrected. He said his employees were covered under workers' compensation effective March 1 and have been paid through West Virginia Recycling Services since last week.

Sayre also has publicly questioned the terms of the lease agreement with Hunyadi. He said he wonders if board members did their homework before turning Slack Street over to the businessman.

Sayre said the solid waste board made a mistake in privatizing the county's recycling program. He also wrote that the Authority held no public hearings on privatizing the recycling facility, but should have.

"I disagree with the decision to privatize our county's recycling operation," he wrote. "The building was determined to be unsafe to work in last March and it is still unsafe.

"At this time I do not think I can be a productive board member or a team player," he wrote. "It is best if I resign, and I do so effective 1 p.m. March 7, 2013."

Authority board President Kay Summers said Thursday afternoon that she had not yet seen Sayre's resignation letter and withheld comment.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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