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Spring Hope residents, board grill Envirolink contractors over unfinished work

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SPRING HOPE — Residents joined town commissioners during Monday’s meeting to chide Envirolink employees over Spring Hope’s appearance.

Fan Whitley told the town board she’s lived in Spring Hope her entire life and she’s proud to call the small town home. But she’s embarrassed when her grandchildren visit and ask why there’s so much trash on the roadsides. 

Whitley had to chase down the trash truck, she told the board and Envirolink, the private company contracted to perform the town’s public works services.

“There are commodes on the side of the street,” Whitley said. “Our town needs to be cleaned up.”

Former Mayor Clyde Best and local pastor Chris Payne joined Whitley in complaining about the town’s appearance during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The latest in a long line of Envirolink representatives said the company has been training new employees and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, but the company is committed to resolving the town’s issues. Envirolink had five representatives at the meeting.

Commissioner Ricky Tucker said the vast majority of complaints he receives from residents are about Envirolink, and he’s read in the newspaper how other towns are complaining as well.

Envirolink has always provided excuses, Tucker said. He questioned why the town pays Envirolink the full amount of its contract rate when the company doesn’t provide the services to which it’s agreed.

Commissioner Prudence Wilkins said when she goes out walking, she can see trash in roadside ditches and smell a stench in the air.

Commissioner Brent Cone said he wasn’t going to pull punches. He said he knows the Envirolink employees were at the meeting to perform lip service and take their lumps.

Cone said the board received a heartfelt apology at the June meeting, but nothing really improved.

“The town is tired of hearing it,” Cone said. “Envirolink may have been great at one time. Your track record with us right now is poor. Take your lumps, save your apology and get it right.”

Mayor Buddy Gwaltney said he saw Envirolink working at 8 p.m. on Father’s Day, but also followed a crew as it left town at 1:30 p.m. one day last week when there was plenty more work to be done.

“It’s got to be consistent and ongoing,” Gwaltney said.

The board agreed Envirolink employee Matt Littell has been the best representative the company has ever provided to the town.

“I’d like to see you get him some more help,” Gwaltney said.

Gwaltney said that despite how the newspaper reported his exchange with company representatives during June’s town board meeting, he didn’t toss out the Envirolink employees. He simply gave them the opportunity to leave and view the poor landscaping condition of the town’s cemeteries while it was still daylight.

Gwaltney gave the Envirolink representatives the same opportunity Monday evening, telling them to look at the tall grass that remains uncut around town at locations like the water tower.

The five Envirolink employees left the meeting at that time, before the board concluded its business.