Solid waste board member resigns, hurling verbal fireballs
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority board member has resigned and made a number of searing allegations against the agency.
Citing concerns over the management of the Slack Street recycling center, board member Greg Sayre resigned Thursday.
Sayre said that West Virginia Recycling Services, the company leasing the site and managing its operations, only recently acquired a business registration in West Virginia and is not paying into the workers' compensation and unemployment insurance programs.
He also says employees are working in an unsafe environment and receiving improper payments.
Sayre's resignation comes just two weeks after the state Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against him. Sayre, who served as the state Department of Environmental Protection's appointee on the board while also lobbying for private recycling companies, had been accused of using his position for personal gain.
In a three-page resignation letter sent to local media outlets, Sayre said at least two companies working with the authority have no right to do business in West Virginia. He called the situation a "travesty."
"This situation should not have occurred," he said in his letter. "To have a public facility and county and state owned equipment operated by a nonexistent company and by employees with no workmen's compensation is a travesty."
When reached for comment, Sayre said one of the companies, Innovative Organics, was the entity signing paychecks for workers at the recycling center for the past five weeks.
"They were improper payroll checks," he said. "They have no right to be doing business in West Virginia."
In the letter, Sayre said the company doesn't even have a checking account in West Virginia.
George Hunyadi is the sole proprietor of Ohio-based Innovative Organics and partner in West Virginia Recycling Services, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Draw Enterprise.
Hunyadi said everything is being done by the book and that Sayre is simply trying to ruin his credibility.
"Greg was never a big fan of mine," he said. "He hasn't liked me since the day he met me.
As of March 1, the company was current in its payments to workers' compensation, Hunyadi said. Although Innovative Organics handled the first few rounds of payments to workers, he said West Virginia Recycling Services now handles payroll.
He said there was a hiccup at first regarding workers' compensation because he was still in the process of hiring workers. He said that problem has been addressed.
Sayre accused the authority of failing to properly vet Hunyadi's company. He said he paid $29.99 on Wednesday to perform an Internet background check on Hunyadi and that the check turned up "red flags."
"It turned up seven IRS leans (sic) and judgments," he said in the letter. "I don't know how reliable those Internet services are, but I'm getting off the bus."
Hunyadi said he had no comment on any liens placed against him in other states.
The Slack Street facility was closed last March after engineers found it was unsafe for workers. By October, the authority was eyeing the deal with West Virginia Recycling Services that would allow it to lease the facility.
The deal was inked on Dec. 19.
Sayre pointed out Thursday that no improvements have been made at the facility since it was closed nearly one year ago.
"We hired a respected engineering company, ZMM, to do a safety study. We paid over $20,000. Four or five engineers went through the building and gave us a detailed report on the building's shortcomings a year ago," he said.
"The board voted a year ago to close it down. No improvements have been made to the building. The very same employees we told two months ago to stay out of the building are now working in the building. Were our engineers wrong? Are we not liable?" Sayre said by phone.
Hunyadi said he doesn't believe the building is unsafe.
"I would debate those claims," he said. "I reviewed the building with the fire chief, and all I can say is I'm comfortable with what I saw and we're trying our best to operate in a safe manner."
He said the company's long-term plan includes a full renovation of the building, however.
He said he isn't angry with Sayre over the allegations.
"I wish him well in his new endeavors, whatever they may be, and I'm moving ahead doing what's best for the county."