Print County probes Verde Earthworks dumping complaint
Written by Greg Ruland   
Friday, 26 August 2011 15:00

A contractor who occasionally hauled construction materials to Verde Earthworks in 2009 and 2010 filed a formal complaint with Yavapai County on Monday, Aug. 22, alleging the 5-year-old curbside recycling company is violating land use laws.

James Amis shows a piece of charred cardboard Monday, Aug. 22, which he said came from a large cardboard fire at the Verde Earthworks property on Cornville Road.Verde Earthworks founder Kate Blevins denied the allegations, claiming the complainant, James Amis, is a disgruntled former contractor who fabricated the allegations in an act of revenge.

Amis, who was let go from a welding job at Verde Earthworks in July, alleges there are two 50-cubic-yard pits at the site filled with glass bottles and other recyclable material, each covered with dirt. He said a third, larger pit, was in the process of being filled.

Amis also alleged Verde Earthworks, located in the 5100 block of Restoration Loop in Rimrock, was burning materials on-site and burying the ashes. Blevins denied the allegation.

In addition, Amis alleges he dumped tons of construction materials at the site, including concrete with affixed rebar and seven tons of fresh asphalt.

“It was smoking hot when I dumped it,” Amis said. “I watched it roll down the hill.”

He gave several photographs to Yavapai County officials to back up his claims, including an overhead satellite photo marked with an X for each area where he claims materials were buried or dumped in violation of the law.

Blevins said concrete and asphalt was stockpiled at the Verde Earthworks site for a time, but company workers were working furiously this week to clean the site up as directed by county officials.

The concrete and asphalt can be recycled and put to use in building roads and as fill, Blevins said.

County Land Use Manager Boyce Macdonald said he cited Verde Earthworks for maintaining the improper stockpiles Thursday, Aug. 18. Blevins said the county gave her until Friday, Aug. 26, to correct the problem.

Blevins said Verde Earthworks currently has on-site 200 500-pound bales of mixed recyclables which it is just beginning to process. She said the recycler also stockpiles tons of glass bottles on-site. Verde Earthworks grinds some of the glass bottles for use in concrete and recycles some for use as glassware, but the company maintains most of it in piles.

James Amis, in a photo taken July 17, points to a spot where he said buried recyclable materials from one closed pit are bleeding out into another, still open pit, on the Verde Earthworks property. Amis has filed a complaint with Yavapai County for what he believes are systematic dumping violations on the local recycling company’s Cornville Road property.She declined to estimate how many tons of glass bottles are currently on-site. She said the glass sells for roughly $5 a ton.

“[County officials] were more concerned about the concrete and asphalt than they were about the recyclables,” Blevins said.

Macdonald, who works out of Prescott, said Monday, Aug. 22, he did not know Amis filed a formal complaint about the pits and had not reviewed photographs of the alleged violations submitted to the county Land Use Department on Aug. 18.

It was an anonymous phone call early last week that caused him to perform an inspection of the Verde Earthworks site Aug. 18, Blevins said.

“We’re just in the beginning stages of the investigation,” Macdonald said.

Yavapai County Land Use Specialist Jeanie Grossmayer, who works out of Cottonwood, confirmed Monday, Aug. 22, her office received Amis’ complaint and photographs.

Amis said he worked construction on and off for Blevins since 1997. He denied he filed the complaint in an act of revenge. He said others who work at the Verde Earthworks site know of the violations but are afraid to step forward.

“I would like to see all of it cleaned up and be assured there are no contaminated sites,” Amis said.

Blevins said she did not want the negative publicity.

“We will be exactly five years on the curb on Labor Day,” Blevins said. “We managed against all odds to keep our heads above water to make it. I have 800 customers and I want to keep them. They’re what keeps this company going.”

“People need to know we recycle every item. We make sure it all gets to where it needs to go.”