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Landfill facing potential major repair on equipment

August 10, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ATLANTA - The Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Authority addressed the issue of employees not performing the needed maintenance on the equipment at the landfill. Much of the staff in the yard has been replaced and the maintenance is now being completed as scheduled and documented. The problems in the past have taken their toll on several of the pieces of equipment and now the commissioners are contemplating how the needed tools can be repaired or replaced.

During Friday's board meeting the commissioners were told that more repairs are needed on the landfill's dozer and this comes after a great deal of money has been put into repairs over the last several years. Administrator Sandy Cunningham told the board CAT could overhaul the entire vehicle for about half of what it would cost to purchase a new one. It would have a new serial number and come with a one-year warranty, but the board was split on if it would be prudent to have the truck reworked, or just lease a new one it could purchase at the end of the lease.

The landfill's loader also is experiencing issues, as its motor is missing. It has over 10,000 hours on it and is expected to have a costly service update soon. Alpena Commissioner Cam Habermehl said he thinks if the equipment is to be replaced the landfill should consider getting it brand new.

"The dozer is more than 20 years old and we have put a lot of money into it. A couple of years ago we spent an enormous amount of money to bring it back up to good condition but there are still problems," Habermehl said. "We're going to look to see if it is more feasible to replace it or rebuild it. I don't have a lot of faith in a rebuild. If we're going to do it I would rather lease a new one. If we don't get a new one, this one is going to nickel and dime us to death, except out here it is ($10-$20,000) at a time."

The landfill has two years of payments on the compactor it purchased for CAT, but overall it is in good health financially, due to savings made on how leachate is stored and hauled. Cunningham said the budget could handle the transactions.

"It can handle it, it will have to," Cunningham said. "The payments end on the compactor in 2013 and we have a buyout at the end of the lease at an amount agreed upon with CAT for $136,000, but now is the time for us to start planning because we'll be looking at our 1013 budget."

Cunningham said having reliable machines at the landfill is imperative to the business operating efficiently in terms of operations and financially.

"If something goes down it inhibits landfill operations because we can't operate as we are designed to," Cunningham said. "They use that dozer all day long, every day. When something breaks down there can be a significant impact to our bottom line."

The board is expected to get a recommendation on what the best direction to take at its next meeting on Aug. 24.

In other business:

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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