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Red River Meets With City Council Over Trash Collection

Red River Waste Solutions

One week after the City of Fort Wayne issued fines to Red River Waste Solutions for failing to meet garbage pickup benchmarks in April and May, the city’s new solid waste management contractor faced questions from City Council Tuesday night.

Since taking over Fort Wayne’s garbage collection in January, the city reports it has received more than 17,000 calls to its 311 number with questions or complaints about service.

Red River vice president Steve Smith chalks up the growing pains to a nationwide driver shortage is affecting staffing in Fort Wayne, but he says the company has been proactive.

“We’ve made some management changes locally, and we’ve staffed up since then,” Smith said. “We’ve seen the calls dramatically go down over the last couple of weeks, we’re headed in the right direction. We have people in the pipeline, we’ve hired new office staff, as well.”

Mayor Tom Henry expressed an understanding of this in last week’s statement coinciding with the fines, but not all council members are sold. First district councilman Paul Ensley remained skeptical of Red River’s explanation.

“In January, we were told that it was cold and that the hydraulics on the trucks wouldn’t work. We were told that folks don’t know what time to put out their trash cans. We were told that we have new drivers that don’t know their routes. Now we’re being told that it’s a driver shortage,” Ensley said.

“If you guys are back here in August, what is going to be the problem then? I don’t know.”

Both Red River and Public Works say decreases in calls have been seen the last several weeks, but several council members remain concerned with the Fourth of July holiday approaching.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered, and hosted Morning Edition for the past few years. In 2022, he was promoted to Content Director.
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