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Fort Wayne Republican councilmen call on Henry administration to do more regarding Red River

Red River Waste Solutions

Fort Wayne Republican City Council members Russ Jehl and Tom Didier are calling on Mayor Tom Henry and the administration to take steps to address the ongoing garbage collection issues in the city.

In addition to Red River Waste Solutions’ ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, staff shortages both at Red River and the city’s solid waste department from COVID-19 have left residents waiting days for their garbage to be picked up.

Jehl acknowledges these ongoing problems, but also adds that the public hasn’t heard much to ease tensions locally, and that a contingency plan isn’t being implemented.

“The city administration is responsible for that. The solid waste district is ultimately responsible for quality control and for four years they have been unable to do so, and now when they are needed most they do not have a system in place and people are languishing for multiple weeks without having their garbage picked up.”

Jehl is requesting the administration meet with Council at its meeting next Tuesday, and he’s calling for four things:

  • Level with the Public: More than a month has passed since the Administration has given a substantive update on the garbage service issue.  The public needs hope that cannot come from a press release.  Does the Administration intend to make a switch in its service provider?
  • Immediately hire an emergency provider: The City Administration should activate the emergency services clause in the garbage services contract and utilize a 3rd party provider to reduce the misses and be retained indefinitely.  Complacently allowing garbage to pile up around town is simply not necessary.
  • Proactively reach out to Red River’s workers to stay: With Red River’s bankruptcy and public relations issues, they will almost certainly continue to lose drivers.  The Solid Waste Department should proactively lead in recruiting and retaining the current Red River drivers, appreciating their experience and value.  The drivers alone will get the Ratepayer through this present emergency and a future transition.  
  • Create a real miss list: Solid Waste should create an effective “miss list” plan to identify and collect missed areas, that extends beyond overwhelming 311 with calls. Solid Waste, not Red River, is ultimately responsible for ensuring miss cycles and miss patterns do not occur. 

Didier was on hand to support the measure. He says he and other members of Council get a lot of calls about it, and he wants better guidance so he can give better answers to residents.

“We don’t know what’s happening for the future, we just have to rely on hearsay, and that’s not what we want. We need to know factuals, so that we can get them out to constituents so they can understand. I think people would be more understanding if they knew what was going on.”

Didier will be running for Fort Wayne Mayor as a Republican in the 2023 municipal elections.

City Council’s next meeting is slated for next Tuesday, January 18 at 5:30 pm at Citizens Square.

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.