An advertisement in The Gateway-Beacon purchased by Solid Solutions Development, a company that is proposing a landfill on property near Tallapoosa, drew a swift reaction from local elected officials on social media and through the county attorney.
In a letter dated the day the ad was published and addressed to Tee Stribling, president of the company, county attorney David Mecklin advised the company that “any representation that the Haralson County Board of Commissioners has entered into any form of partnership with your company is patently false.
“CEASE AND DESIST any further representation, publicly or privately, that the Haralson County Board of Commissioners has entered into any partnership or other form of relationship with Solid Solutions Development, LLC,” the letter states.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Eric McDonald, president of the Haralson County Development Authority, said the authority would be sending out a similar letter.
Commission Chairman Ronnie Ridley said the office started receiving calls from residents almost immediately on Thursday, the day The Gateway-Beacon was published.
“A lot of people called wanting to know what was going on,” Ridley said. “Our constituents took it that it was already a partnership.”
Solid Solutions purchased an advertisement in The Gateway-Beacon published on June 10, 2021, stating that the company’s “proposed project has prime industrial property ready for development in partnership with the Haralson County Board of Commissioners and the Industrial Development Authority.”
The ad was not meant to be interpreted as saying that the company had created a partnership with the county, said Stribling and Ernest Kaufmann, vice president of business development for the company. Rather, it was meant to signal that the company was ready to work with the commissioners and the authority members.
“We obviously do not have a partnership with the county yet. We look forward to one day being able to have one,” Kaufmann said. “It certainly wasn’t meant to deceive anyone or make them think that the county had been out here negotiating with us.”
Some of the commissioners were upset at the wording, though.
Within hours of the ad being published, Commissioner John Daniel posted a scathing comment on the Haralson County News Facebook page as well as his own Facebook pages.
“Well Solid Solutions is up to it’s misleading propaganda in its most recent AD in The Haralson County Gateway-Beacon,” the post reads. “They claim a proposed project — we have not seen anything in writing. They also claim a partnership with the BOC, which is totally and completely untrue since they have not presented anything to the BOC and we have not met with, nor agreed to partner with Solid Solutions on any project. This is so misleading and untrue that our county attorney is filing a Cease and Desist letter for putting false information in the paper. I feel it’s important for you to know the facts, because as we see Solid Solutions can not be trusted to tell factual information.”
Commissioner Ryan Farmer posted a similar statement on his election page stating, “Neither Solid Solutions, nor any representative from the company, has proposed any project to the Commission or Development Authority.”
However, representatives of Solid Solutions have visited local government meetings and hosted online meetings presenting detailed plans for the proposed landfill, including an industrial park that they would like to partner with the Haralson County Commission and Development Authority members in creating. They have repeatedly invited elected officials to negotiate with them for a host agreement, including an industrial park, should the landfill plans be approved.
Kaufmann has said in the past that the negotiations would not be an approval of the proposal, but a protection for residents if the plans move forward.
While Farmer and Daniel were not members of the Board of Commissioners at the time of the presentation, they were both aware of the plans. On Daniel’s campaign page he posted a video in which he said he attended the June 2020 meeting of the County Commission and heard Ernest Kaufmann, vice president of Business Development for Solid Solutions, give a presentation about the project.
“This is not wanted. It’s not something that the people want. I don’t want it,” Daniel said in the video recorded the next day. “Our county don’t need it.”
Farmer’s campaign promises posted on his Facebook campaign page included “to always work for you by fighting against any new landfill trying to come to our county.”
In May, Kaufmann had told The Gateway-Beacon that the late purchase of two pieces of property had delayed the company’s filing of its application. But the negotiation for the host agreement is not something that has to or should wait until after the application is sent.
The company does intend to run more ads about the project, and Kaufmann said in the future it will review the ads with the interpretations of the public in mind.