By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Its back to square one.

The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority voted yesterday to reopen the bidding for companies that want to operate the countys future transfer station.

The board took the action because the only bidder, Hambro/WSG, lost an exclusive contract with Dry Creek Landfill in Oregon for disposal of Del Norte Countys refuse.

This exclusive contract reportedly discouraged other companies from bidding to operate the transfer station because they would not be able to compete with Hambro/WSGs offer.

Authority Director Kevin Hendrick told the board the staffs recommendation was to keep the Hambro proposal and negotiate directly with landfills for a disposal deal.

However, the vote was 4-to-1 to reopen the Request For Proposals. Board member Mickey Youngblood was the dissenting vote.

I think government should stay out of it, said board member Clyde Eller. I think we should withdraw from negotiations with Hambro/Waste Solutions Group;terminate them and go back out and solicit new proposals and have them negotiate the best deal for disposal.

Board member C. Ray Smith agreed with Eller. My goal is, I want to eventually be out of a job on this board ... the more involvement we get, the longer this boards life will be.

Youngblood suggested a new bidding process be accompanied with staff researching separate deals with landfills. This idea was defused somewhat when Hambro executives said they preferred keeping disposal as part of the overall contract because it gives operators more flexibility even if this meant Hambro would lose its current standing with the board and have to prepare a new proposal.

Were disappointed, but were prepared to move forward, said Hambro Vice President Charlie Compton, adding he believed his company would still submit the best proposal to the authority.

Everybody had an equal opportunity to submit a proposal, but they didnt, Compton said. If you need to open up to a bid, we welcome that.

Dry Creek Landfill withdrew its exclusivity agreement with Hambro/WSG when companies threatened legal action against the landfill company. Compton said yesterday he didnt believe any of those companies would be received warmly by Dry Creek should they try to negotiate a contract with it.

On Tuesday, Don Cordell of Dry Creek said its door was open now for negotiations, but he also indicated the companys preference.

We are willing to talk to a number of partners, Cordell said. I would like to say that I still like our partners (Hambro/ WSG) and think thats the right team. We fully support them.

When it is built, the transfer station will temporarily house county refuse, before it is shipped out of the county, after the local landfill is closed in late-2002 or early-2003.

The preferred location for the transfer station is currently at the existing county landfill, although two other locations on Elk Valley Road are possibilities.

Board members and staff are scheduled to visit four Oregon transfer stations this morning to assist the board with determination of location, design, permitting and development of a transfer station, according to yesterdays agenda.

A special hearing will take place at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the Crescent City Cultural Center for public comments regarding the draft environmental impact report for the new transfer station.