One of the most consistent objects of contention in Polk County is getting better marks from residents and commissioners under new leadership.

County commissioners got a status report from the new manager of the Grady Road Landfill last week at their monthly work session. Tami Craig, of GFL Environmental, spoke about the work she has done over the last six months to try and repair the landfill’s reputation.

“We’ve made huge progress,” Craig said. “And we hope that most people who live near the landfill will notice an improvement of off-site odors.”

The landfill has been a subject of a court order, a lawsuit and several complaints in recent years involving both the stench and soil cover at the site, as well as the amount of buzzards who frequent the landfill.

Craig, who was hired by GFL to take over operations of the landfill, said she was well aware of the compliance issues and made it clear that she will do everything she can to find the best possible solutions.

She said repairs have already been made to the site’s gas collection system, which pumps out methane that is then burned off, as well as the landfill’s leachate system that collects the liquids that run off from the landfill before they are able to seep into the ground.

“Though we have made great strides, the landfill did not get that way overnight,” Craig said. “I know many in the community opposed the landfill, and I understand that. But the fact is it is here and we can’t move it. The best thing we can do is manage it properly in order to restrict any environmental impact.

“Until we, as a society, find a better way to manage our trash, this is our best option.”

County Commission Chairman Hal Floyd said he considers Craig a “good neighbor” and praised her work at the landfill, as did many of the commissioners.

“I appreciate the effort you’ve put in and, the times I’ve been there, I’ve seen an improvement with the overall look of the area,” Floyd said.

Commissioner Scotty Tillery referred to Craig and her efforts as “a breath of fresh air.” Commissioner Ray Carter said the board understood that it took 20 years for the landfill to get the way it was and it will take some time to change course.

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