Will the controversy over the county mulching operation finally be resolved, or is it just heating up again?
The incoming Burchett administration and the TBI are looking into the operation, which has featured a special report, audits, and multiple lawsuits. County Mayor Tim Burchett and the TBI have received copies of another round of sworn depositions. One of the depositions reveals that contaminated mulch was discovered to have been sold to the public. It was pulled back and reprocessed, but there was no public announcement about it. And Knox County Commission was not informed. Also, the deposition says the solid waste department did not investigate allegations of double-billing of the county by NRR, the mulch operation contractor.
The solid waste department reports to the county engineering department that had been headed by Bruce Wuethrich. Wuethrich was one of the department heads not retained by Burchett. He told Commission when the controversy began he did not know that NRR had not paid the county royalties on mulch sales for the first three years of the contract. He said it was a decision made by the late John Evans, who had headed the solid waste department. County Commission extended NRR’s contract.
Tom Salter, who now heads the solid waste department, continues to be locked in mortal combat with Brad Mayes, an independent mulch dealer, principal critic, and frequent litigator over the county mulch contract. Mayes accuses Salter of watching his business and keeping tabs on him, and Salter accuses Mayes of slander for making him out to be a stalker.