The idea just sounds too nifty to dismiss.
Former School Board member Lee Muns suggested the other day that the county's new high school should be powered by methane extracted from the county's nearby closed landfill.
The suggestion came a few days before the announcement that Kimberly-Clark Corp., in Beech Island, would run a pipe 15 miles to the Three Rivers Solid Waste Landfill to get methane to power the plant's boilers.
The technology is pretty basic, and other places are figuring out ways to tap into gas from decaying garbage - gas that otherwise rises into the atmosphere to mingle with Al Gore's exhalations and increase Global Stupidity.
Could it work? Todd Glover, director of management and financial services for Columbia County, says it's worth studying.
"Of the 300 million tons of waste in the ground, only 100 million tons is still within the curve to produce adequate amounts to collect," Glover says of the closed landfill. "The question then would be whether or not that portion would produce enough to warrant the construction of the collection and distribution system. Even then, we would probably only get about 10 years worth, which is not a long time to capitalize costs and save money."
Still? "It is a possibility that could be researched," Glover says.
Well, get on that research, folks. Something has to power that $27 million school, and hot air about "global warming" sure won't do it.
Speaking of hot air, count yourself lucky if you avoided the school board's recent discussion of the bid award for building the new school. Board members Wayne Bridges and Mike Sleeper chewed the topic more than the last gristle of a Thanksgiving turkey.
All trustees except Sleeper agreed to spend about $70,000 more than needed, just to make them feel better about the subcontractors hired for the job - most of whom were the same subcontractors listed by a competing bidder!
A couple of troubling points about this mess. The argument was based on whether the school board should require general contractors on such a big job to have bonding for their major subcontractors. That's what Bridges wanted. The low bidder didn't get the job because of his extra cost of that bonding.
The problem? During his protracted, forceful arguments favoring R.W. Allen's position in the bid, Bridges never mentioned that he used to work as the chief financial officer for R.W. Allen.
This isn't the first time Bridges has failed to openly disclose his work for a business with a bid before the board. I don't think Bridges is dishonest, but good Lord, Wayne - how difficult is it to say, "I used to work for these guys"?
The other part that's troublesome is that the school board shouldn't be involved in such minutia in the first place. Their responsibility to taxpayers is to do business with reputable companies and to hold the winning bidder to the terms of the contract - period. They don't need to be nitpicking the general contractor's relationship with subcontractors. Just hold the contractor's feet to the fire and get the job done. That's it.
Everything else is just hot air.
Just 365, 366 to go
And speaking of hot air, let's all celebrate: As of today, it is officially one year until the Nov. 4, 2008 General Election - so we know we have only 365 more days to listen to this cacophonous cavalcade of campaigners.
Uh-oh; bad news. Next year is a leap year and will be one day longer. That just figures, doesn't it?
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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