13 April 2018

Quick Friday AM Check-in: The Great Newton Co. Mulch Controversy of 2018

The Chronicles 


Happy Friday the 13th, Dear Readers, and we hope it's glorious out there for everybody. Speaking of glorious, how 'bout this weather? Very nice. We'll take it. Running behind this morning, so here's a quick rundown of the Real Story in the hometown.


As TPC reported on its FB page Monday of this week, something beautiful happened over in Green Acres. Citizen volunteers, both black & white; republican & democrat, came together to make improvements at Spillers Park. Spearheaded by BOC 4 candidate Spencer Arnhart, this diverse group decided to be the change they wished to see and made numerous improvements to the park & spread the mulch that the Newton Co. Government had dropped off about a month prior.

The story, and other stories, totally went "viral" as it seemed that many in the home county were truly touched by this display. So you knew it couldn't last...

TPC's first inclination that things were going south is when a source informed us that a certain former county attorney had been in touch with at least one member of the Newton BOC to make them aware that the mulch was, according to this source, in violation of the State EPD. Well, TPC reached out to that state agency & it seems obvious that this was not the case. 



Again, Newton Co. provided the mulch, as Spillers Park is operated by the Newton County Recreation Commission, a commission of the Newton Co. government.

The next day the story was that it was a Federal EPA thing. Nope...

A vague press release is then sent out yesterday by Newton Co.

Newton County crews worked Thursday morning to pick up mulch which was spread throughout Spillers Parker earlier this week.

The County discovered the mulch was not of park-grade material and worked quickly to maintain the safety of the park. Piles of mulch were placed at the park in late March following a request by a Covington City Councilperson in anticipation of the city’s upcoming clean-up day on April 21. In an effort to be supportive of cleanup efforts and be an active partner with our municipalities, this request was met by the County.
Newton County currently is in communication with the City of Covington to find the best path forward for Spillers Park, along with the Newton County Recreation Commission.

 Questions emailed back to the communications office of Newton remain unanswered as to which county employee or official made this discovery; or as to what testing methods were used; or as to what guidelines were being employed to make the determination that the mulch was not "park-grade material." Because, as far as TPC could ascertain in its research, there's not such thing as "park-grade material." As an aside, TPC has been informed that this is the same mulch found at Academy Springs & other parks in and around Newton.

Now, if they're maybe talking about "certified mulch," then we might have something there (that was confirmed by a source), and apparently that's a standard used by a trade organization in Pennsylvania, apparently. Much research by this publication could not yield any information as to if this trade organization's standard is tied into any federal, state or local regulation or ordinance. So...

Some that TPC have spoken with have offered up a couple of theories as to why tax money was possibly wasted in this situation.

1. As has been seen in cities and counties all across America in response to phenomenon of Citizen Volunteerism taking care of the things that bloated governmental entities seemingly cannot, many times these entities will undo the work of the volunteers (and spending time & money to do so) because, well, if people start doing, for free, what the government is supposed to do with forced taxation, then perhaps people will start wondering what they're paying taxes for. And, possibly moreover, wondering if a lot of what government is is really necessary. It speaks to the well known, longtime rhetorical question of many in libertarian & limited-government circles - "But who will build the roads?" 

2. That these actions were taken by the county government because the beautiful thing that was witnessed was having an adverse effect on the incumbent of the 4th District of the Newton Co. BOC. 

My sources tell me that it's all pretty much point #2, but I have to believe that, at least subconsciously, it's some of #1 as well.

My, my...Another day in our lives, NC edition.

We'll be keeping an eye on it. As always, thx for reading.