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Hotline Is a Hot Topic

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — January 30, 2004 – A hotline set up to help folks talk about their issues has become a hot topic in Monticello.
The Sullivan County Department of Solid Waste set up a hotline for Monticello residents to call when they notice odors eminating from the county landfill.
But residents say they aren’t getting through, and they’re afraid their voices aren’t being heard.
“They’re telling us they have this hotline for us, but you can’t get through,” said Monticello businessman and resident Ken Heins.
Heins’ Farmer’s Market is right next to the landfill off Broadway in Monticello.
“It still stinks so bad down here,” he said.
But when he tries to call the phone number to mention what he’s smelling, Heins said he doesn’t get anywhere.
John Kehlenbeck, director of solid waste management, said they are aware of the problem and are trying to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
“What happened is the system only stores up to a certain amount of messages,” Kehlenbeck said. “We’ll make it a point to check it more often.”
Kehlenbeck said the county was directed by the Department of Environmental Conservation to set up some system to record complaints during offhours.
The hotline was set up, using an extension off of solid waste management’s regular number.
Those messages are then accessed by the staff, folks who leave their phone number get a return call, and a record of all of the complaints are sent on to the state.
Every message has to be transcribed into a log as well, Kehlenbeck said, so they can be reviewed sometime in the future.
Heins said the number was working this week, but the real problem is the weekends when more people are home and making calls to report their complaints.
“At 11 a.m. Saturday morning, people were running for cover,” Heins said. “We don’t even know if it’s any use to call – people are really becoming scared.”
Kehlenbeck said people should continue to call. If they don’t get through on the hotline’s extension, they should leave a message at his personal extension, 305 or at extensions 301 or 304.
The hotline number is 794-4466, a voice mail prompt tells those with odor complaints how to leave a message addressing those concerns.

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