State Rep. Elgin Rogers, Jr. visits Sunny Farms Landfill with Seneca County Commissioner Bill Frankart
Story and photos by Sheri Trusty
FOSTORIA – Seneca County Commissioner Bill Frankart welcomed State Rep. Elgin Rogers, Jr. to Fostoria on Nov. 10 to experience waste management operations at Sunny Farms Landfill from the perspective of a local business customer. The landfill is at the core of Senate Bill 119 which, if passed, would approve proactive steps to address health concerns emanating from the site. SB 119 is currently under review by the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
State Rep. Gary Click visited the landfill with Frankart and Rogers.
The bill, which is sponsored by State Senator Bill Reineke, proposes changes to laws governing the transfer and disposal of solid waste and construction and demolition debris. Included in the bill is an allowance for a new permissive and variable fee that will fund oversight measures.
Rogers, a member of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked Frankart to take him to the landfill for a firsthand look at Sunny Farms operations, which have been the subject of community complaints and numerous Ohio EPA violations. Rogers experienced an insider’s view while traveling as a passenger in a dump truck as it unloaded waste at the landfill, and he visited a local homeowner whose front-yard view is marred by the landfill hills. The homeowner said the landfill consisted of one small hill when she and her husband purchased the home ten years ago, and it has grown into an unsightly monstrosity that affects her daily life. She shared with Rogers her fears about the water her children bathe in and the air they breathe.
During his visit, Rogers spoke with Seneca County Health Commissioner Julie Richards and Seneca County General Health District Board Vice President, Zachary West, DO, who talked about their concerns over the landfill’s impact on the health of local residents and about the health departments’ plans for heightened oversight at the landfill. SB 119 will empower the health department with the funds, authority and manpower to ensure the landfill is operating to the highest EPA standards.
Rogers asked West if the health department has cemented its plan, and he questioned the cost to implement it. West told Rogers that the health department spent months developing a Comprehensive Environmental Impact Study. The study, which will cost between $500,000 and $1 million to complete, will address environmental, social and economic factors.
Other elements of the health department’s oversight plan include the installation and operation of two air monitoring systems in communities near the landfill and the hiring of two or more Registered Environmental Health Specialists to regularly inspect the landfill. The high costs of the oversight plan make the passage of SB 119 vital.
Also greeting Rogers in Fostoria were Fostoria Mayor Eric Keckler, Fostoria Mayor-elect Don Mennel and local resident Lora Wolph.
Rogers expressed gratitude for the opportunity to tour the landfill, and the SB 119 supporters who met with him were thankful Rogers cared enough about Seneca County residents to educate himself about their concerns.
“We are very appreciative of Rep. Rogers and Rep Click for taking time out of their busy schedules to visit with constituents and electives on the importance of passing SB 119,” Frankart said.