By Fred Obee

Triplicate editor

A 25-year contract to operate the county's future transfer station was approved yesterday by the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority.

The pact with Hambro Waste Solutions Group is a substantial step toward the eventual opening of the transfer station.

andquot;I want to assure the Authority we're going to continue to massage this thing and give you the best deal we can possibly give. That's our assurance to you guys,andquot; said Dwayne Reichlin of Hambro.

The months-long process of negotiating the operations contract puts the Solid Waste Authority within a year, if all goes well, of seeing solid waste operations move from the county landfill to a facility that ships all of Del Norte's trash out of the county.

Still standing in the way of that goal is the final acquisition of a parcel on Elk Valley Road owned by Ollie and Mollie Hooshnam. The authority met in closed session yesterday to discuss the ongoing negotiations, but took no action.

The authority did, however, modify a contract with consulting firm Winzler and Kelly to map wetlands on the future transfer station site. Wetland areas are not expected to be a problem for the county.

andquot;There are no issues that will prevent us from using that property,andquot; said Kevin Hendrick, director of the Solid Waste Authority. andquot;The Hooshnams remain enthusiastic about selling their property.andquot;

Hendrick said the land will be mapped, surveyed and possibly divided and the county will purchase the land necessary to accommodate the project. Of the 18 acres available, the county needs only seven or eight.

andquot;We could have a deal by February or March next year,andquot; Hendrick said.

Boardmember Clyde Eller said he will be interested in seeing just how much it will cost to dispose of trash at the transfer station.

Hendrick said it was too early to make a ballpark guess, but said it most likely will be more expensive than current landfill fees.

He added, however, that customers will be able to cut costs by separating trash into categories, such as recyclables, brush and trimmings and cardboard to reduce the weight and, consequently, the cost of trash disposal.

On a personal note, veteran Solid Waste Boardmember C. Ray Smith announced that yesterday's meeting would be his last.

Smith, one of two Crescent City City Council members on the board, decided not to run for re-election to the City Council this fall. A new city representative will be named to replace him on the Solid Waste Board.

Smith thanked his fellow boardmembers and said that although he probably will not miss the board meetings, he will miss the people he worked with.