Conflict broke out Wednesday at the Douglas County Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting, after the county allowed the Hanna family to deposit the demolished Windmill Inn’s remains in the county landfill for free. Had they been charged, the cost to the Hannas for that disposal would have been almost $50,000.

Until Wednesday, the chairman of the committee had been Larry Spielbusch, a longtime former county public works employee. The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted to remove Spielbusch and appoint Dick Heard as his replacement. The commissioners made the decision at their regular meeting Wednesday morning, just a few hours before the Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting.

Spielbusch opposed the Windmill fee waiver and had pushed for months to get the issue on the advisory committee’s Wednesday agenda, without success. He alleged the commissioners booted him from the committee because they wanted to keep the fee waiver secret.

Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said it was Spielbusch’s behavior, not a desire to hide the fee waiver, that led to Spielbusch’s removal from the committee.

Spielbusch attended Wednesday’s advisory committee meeting anyway, and he erupted during a discussion about potentially increasing the landfill’s disposal rate.

“I sat here and listened to this bullshit for the last half an hour,” Spielbusch began. He said before the committee considered increasing rates, they should “tell that guy right there in the corner” that “he’s got to stop giving away free landfill space for developers.” The man in the corner was Boice.

Spielbusch said when developers don’t pay landfill fees, everyone else has to pay for that.

“It’s unethical, it’s dishonest and that’s the reason I am not the chairman of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee anymore, because I was bringing it up to SWAC for their review and recommendation,” he said.

Boice said the waiver was granted by the county’s public works director because the development planned at the Windmill site will benefit the community economically, and because the Hannas allowed police and firefighter training there.

Email exchanges between Spielbusch, Boice and Public Works Director Scott Adams indicate that as early as November, Spielbusch had asked the issue be on the January meeting’s agenda. He was told it was beyond the committee’s purview.

On Monday, Spielbusch emailed other committee members to say that “for whatever reason” fee waivers were not going to be on the agenda, but he would bring it before the committee for discussion anyway.

He suggested that the county should have an ordinance amendment outlining the reasons fee waivers might be given. He recommended rules similar to Lane County’s, which allows fee waivers for public nuisance properties and community cleanups but not for projects involving economic development.

The Windmill Inn was located on Mulholland Drive near Garden Valley Boulevard. The Hannas built a new Hampton Inn between the Windmill site and the Coca-Cola plant, which they also own. They plan to create the Hanna Heritage Place where the Windmill stood.

At the advisory committee meeting, Boice said the county has approved several similar fee waivers, including one for the owners of the abandoned Safeway building downtown. Demolishing the Safeway building will eliminate an eyesore, he said.

Committee member Ellen Porter from Roseburg Forest Products suggested the Windmill issue was going to be a “500-pound gorilla in the room” and said it was important to be transparent.

Boice said Spielbusch wasn’t removed because the county wanted to hide anything.

“The fact that (Spielbusch) was looking into this has nothing to do with the reason he’s not here anymore,” Boice said. “The reason that he’s not here anymore is because he acts like that.”

Porter defended Spielbusch.

“For the years that I’ve been on this committee, (Spielbusch) has acted with a lot of integrity. I think he was looking for transparency. I’m not comfortable with this idea of making him the scapegoat. Maybe I will be the next one to go,” she said.

Boice told The News-Review Thursday that the advisory committee’s role is supposed to involve monitoring the contracts with local trash haulers and making recommendations on fees.

“We appreciate (Spielbusch’s) years of service, but it was apparent that he was concerned about issues that were outside the scope of the responsibility of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee,” Boice said.

Boice said 1,069 tons of waste were brought to the landfill from the Windmill Inn demolition. The scrap metal and concrete were disposed of elsewhere. Without a waiver, the fee for the Windmill disposal would have been about $48,645 including the wood waste, which is charged at a different rate, Boice said.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(16) comments

Thomas Hall

Totally outrageous behavior by the county!
Boice should pay the 50,000 gift from his pocket.
The Hanna's are multi-millionaires!

Old Tobi

As offended as I am by the favoritism, I'm pleased by the folks in the comments. There's some good folks in this county, maybe just not the ones on the commission.

Momos

Republicans idolize the rich and greedy, to everyone else's detriment. Hanna would never miss that 50K. Kress needs to step up and stop this. We'll see what kind of person he really is. Spielbusch is a stand up guy, and got run over by Fred Dayton and his cabal for doing what is right. What have you got to say, Tom? You with the rich, or the citizens that elected you?

S

Kress vote to remove Spielbusch . . .step up? Seriously, he was part of the Old Guard GOP voting block.

Fredhendee

I’m as conservative as they come, but this good ole boy thing in Douglas County is over the top. I hope Tom (Kress) doesn’t join in. We all know why Hannah didn’t have to pay, and of course, Heard (Dallas’s dad) was appointed. Funny thing is that the Heards didn’t even support Kress for commissioner. What a joke!

nr77

Spielbusch was right. Boice used his ability to remove Spielbusch besides giving away $50,000 of free disposal costs, but that doesn't mean it was the proper thing to do. Which is wasn't. Can we all send our special friends with businesses, roofers, contractors, etc to the Commissioners office to ask for free solid waste disposal too? And to ask for an increase in dump fees, posted as a discussion at the same meeting is a slap in the face to the taxpayers. The whole thing stinks. Shame on Boice.

Amcconne

Timeline of events for Wednesday January 9.
1. 9AM Commissioners Meeting
Commissioner do "housekeeping" and present an item not on the agenda. The item is removing a member off the Solid Waste Advisory Board and replacing with someone else (Heard)

2. Commissioners Meeting
Commissioners approve to increase Sutherlin Sanitarys request to increase garbage rates by around 9 percent in a public hearing (that was listed on agenda as "discussion of rates"
3. Later that Day Solid Waste Committee meets and commissioners and county staff propose to advisory board to consolidate transfer sites and close some down (article is in nrtoday) due to cost inefficiency.
4. At the same Solid Waste meeting they want to waive 50k in landfill fees.
My solution and opinion
The Solid Waste Department is not sustainable. It contributes to our county budget defeciet. So maybe until it is, we should cease and halt waiving landfill fees (over a certain amount-I understand clean up efforts sometimes are waived like river litter removal) until we reach sustainability. Because it looks REALLY BAD when government has to consolidate services due to cost efficiency which effects citizens, yet at the same time government is loosely spewing revenue out their back door. This is a solution towards the goal of achieving sustainability in this department.

S

Well, well, well . . . what's all the commotion about? This is standard operating procedure for the County. The Board of Crooks are out of control and have been for years. Douglas County gets what it deserves by continuing to allow the underhanded status quo Republican Party to serve each other's needs at the expense of everyone else. Douglas County's elected leadership is a microcosm of the Trumpian idiots at the Federal level. Thank God for Oregon's urban voters who are saving our behinds at the State level. This County is getting what it deserves.

As for Spielbusch - Bravo sir for pulling the covers off of the corruption that permeates that courthouse! The Hanna's are a member of the "club," so they don't have to pay their fair share. The rich get richer and the poor get screwed. County Commissioners have an adopted landfill fee schedule and they can't just randomly grant favors and call it a waiver - absolving Hanna of a $50,000 bill requires a formal action when there is a fee schedule in place. The Ethics Commission and or the Oregon Attorney General need to step in here. You can’t count on the County Counsel because he turns a blind eye in order to keep his paycheck coming so he can just stroll the halls with coffee cup in hand.

God only knows what else the public doesn't know. Boice's justification is BS. That hotel is in the City of Roseburg; the County gets little if any benefit.

Boice needs to go and Freeman needs to go, and the jury is out on Kress. The mob? Yep, only in Duhglas County we spell it GOP.

S

Tom Kress same old GOP ilk. He voted to remove Speilbusch staying in lock step with Status Quo handlers.

Suzan Mesik

Do we really need any more proof that Boice et al are not running OUR
County for US, but as a sad little fiefdom that they control, almost completely.
Sometimes I wish the State would step in and take our County Gummint in hand and make it work for US, not the ignorant nearly-fascist coterie we suffer under now.

Bjustissr

I thought I lived in Douglas County, This sounds like something out of Chicago or New York where the Mafia runs the garbage services. How can you come close to justifying giving a 50 K gift to the Hanna family or the people who own the old Safeway building and at the same time request a 20+% increase to dump fees. Perhaps it's time for an outside performance audit for the Commissioners office. Worse yet, they are attempting to silence someone bringing it to light.

sectorstar

Nearly 2 years ago it was brought to light that the commisoners had stolen nearly $900,000 of county safety net money to pay for their personal plane trip to lobby up in D.C. When it was brought to light the next day and people were furious, Freeman held a grand speech about how an audit was doing to happen and to make sure no unethical things were being done. He was "pretty sure" noting was wrong. Nearly 2 years later there has not been a peep of this audit ever starting or happening. I think they're hoping we forgot all about in the midst of other things that have happened in this town since than.

S

Diversion is a standard GOP tactic. If all we can do is talk about a wall then we're not focusing on the Russian connections tied to the current occupant of the Oval Office.

smedleyb

This is one more example of favors if you are in the club.

Mogie

So I have to pay to dump one garbage can of trash at the dump but the people who tore the Windmill down got to dump basically an entire motel for free? Somebody somewhere was getting a hand job under the table for that perk. It appears that the commissioners got rid of the person who opposed this free dumping for the Windmill. Stupid people in Douglas County keep re-electing these a@@holes.

larsington

Roseburg/Douglas County government is just one big "good ole boys" network.

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