“Cause when it’s gone, it won’t be back again.” 

Those are lyrics written by Jimmy Fadden and Don Schlitz. The song, which hit No. 10 on the country charts, was featured on the 1989 “Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume 2” album. Ironically, I believe it was the last top 10 hit the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band scored.

It came to my mind at the last meeting of the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District board meeting.

For some history, the district had served Baxter, Boone, Carroll, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties. The board of directors is made up largely of county judges and mayors of first-class cities within the district. That meant the board’s composition could have changed every two years. That changed in 2018 when those elected officials all began serving four-year terms – prior to that, county judges only served two-year terms. And very few of those folks know anything about the solid waste business.

About a year ago, Carroll County officials announced they were in the process of breaking away and creating its own solid waste district. One reason is that Carroll County has a successful solid waste system, including curb-side recycling that actually makes a little bit of money. Another reason is that the politics of the board sometimes found those officials on opposite sides of an issue that has to do with protecting the environment.

While it’s a good move for Carroll County, it will almost certainly have a negative impact on finances of the remaining members of the district. Carroll County had historically represented about a third of the meager revenue the district received from fees charged to trash haulers.

Even with the loss of revenue, I find it difficult for the remaining board members to now try to oppose the move. Carroll County has done what it needs to in order to make the move for the good of its own residents.

In a discussion of electronic waste grant funding, the board voted to cut Carroll County out of those funds, prompting Green Forest Mayor Jerry Carlton to offer, “Now you know why Carroll County wants out.”

Final approval for Carroll County to leave the Ozark Mountain district has been challenged, but I’ve got a feeling it will ultimately be approved.

Now, I’ve got to wonder what will become of Ozark Mountain. It appeared to be going off the rails at the last board meeting. It could be the elected officials who were chosen to shake things up a bit, even if it means questioning black-letter law. After all, it’s been my experience that people approve of the law when it’s on their side, but allege corruption when it isn’t.

Maybe it’s time for the state Legislature to look at the make-up of those boards. I guess it must work in other parts of the state, but it seems to be a struggle here in north central Arkansas.

If district board members don’t come up with a way to make it work, I am wondering what will happen when the district is gone.

James White is the associate editor for the Harrison Daily Times. Contact him at jamesw@harrisondaily.com .

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