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HomeBusiness & CommunityRepublic Services Complicates Cleanup at Timber Pines

Republic Services Complicates Cleanup at Timber Pines

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For 12 years, David Morse has been helping his fellow neighbors in the Timber Pines 55+ Community clean up their yard debris. The kind-hearted resident, at age 82, offers to trim and bundle tree branches for free on Wednesdays. All he asks is that the homeowners pay for the twine, which costs roughly eight dollars per every hundred feet. Until recently, Morse has been able to bring his equipment to hundreds of homes and carry out these duties without a hitch. Complications only recently arose when Republic Services began to take issue with his acts of charity. So, what was the problem?

According to Susan Duguay, a Timber Pines resident, the waste disposal company started refusing to pick up the collected foliage “just prior to Thanksgiving” and continued to do so for three weeks. Their reasons, she listed, were as follows: Morse was a professional tree trimmer, too many bundles were present, and the bundles were too heavy. On all accounts, these reasons rang hollow. Morse is no professional, he is simply “a gentleman in his 80s who helps his neighbors,” Duguay said. Regarding the number of bundles, the rules state that 12 may be present except on the week following Thanksgiving. On that week, 24 bundles are allowed. Susan insists that this guideline was also adhered to. On the matter of weight, Morse was “very meticulous” as Duguay provided photographic evidence of the bundles coming in comfortably under the 50-pound threshold as well as being within the four-foot length requirement.

“I just think it is horrible that they are taking advantage of good people who are kindhearted and just trying to help their neighbors, especially their neighbors who are elderly and of meager means,” said Duguay.

Morse spent 21 years in Maine as a property owner of 100 acres of land. He spent those years transforming the real estate into “a park for deer and turkey by limbing up” 50 acres of northern red oaks. After enlisting a professional’s help to clear the “junk trees,” Morse put a conservation easement on the property and gave it away to the aforementioned logger. This way, the land could only be logged once trees reached a certain size and the acreage could not be parceled out. Morse has a passion for trees which led him to start helping others in the community with their overgrown greenery.

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“I have five large oaks, 90 feet tall, beautiful things,” Morse said. “I love trees. I have trees as a little sticker on our car and on our golf cart.”

The waste company relayed to Morse that it only has one truck per 200 households and that it is in a budget crunch, noted Duguay. As a result, Republic Services stated that his generous acts have begun to produce too much yard waste for their single vehicle. They insisted that he cease and desist immediately from continuing his efforts. Morse was gutted.

This response from the magnanimous octogenarian pained Susan. She bought a scale of her own to make sure that the bundles were not over the weight limit and contacted Hernando County Commissioner John Allocco regarding the ordeal. Duguay felt that due to the commissioner’s help, “he was the one that probably made sure our waste in November was picked up.” After this, though, Duguay reports that she was on the receiving end of a rather impolite gesture from Republic drivers. They proceeded to “flip us the bird,” said the Timber Pines resident. This was not the first time, either. A truck driver gave the same one-finger salute to Morse and his wife on a separate waste pickup. That was not the end of the situation, as the company stopped picking up Morse’s yard waste mere days before Christmas.

The Sun reached out to Commissioner Allocco for comment on the matter. Allocco stated that he would like to resolve the situation, but there is not much he can do at the moment. The commissioner is awaiting “something in writing” from Republic Services that states that it is the company’s policy. Until then, he will attempt to follow up with the disposal company if they fail to pick up any of the debris.

Republic’s reluctance to recover the downed shrubbery is more problematic than delayed cleanup and vulgar hand gestures, though. As Timber Pines is a community with a Homeowner Association (HOA), residents can be fined for debris of this sort. With the disposal company presenting an uncooperative attitude, it threatens to hurt the seniors in a variety of ways: making it harder for the most elderly to dispose of their branches, opening the residents up to fines, and removing Morse’s opportunity to socialize while doing a good deed.

Susan’s house is flanked by a pair of elderly residents in their 90s – one a widow, the other a widower. Without Morse’s help, they would have a much more difficult time trimming and disposing of their branches. According to Associa Online, HOA fees often start at 25 dollars and can increase to 50 or even 100 dollars if the fine is not paid or the resident continues to violate the rule. If the clipped branches are unable to be picked up, Timber Pines residents could be subject to these fines, and many are living on rather humble means. Morse is also extremely hard of hearing and will, unfortunately, have to stop his branch-cutting in the next few months due to concerns about balance and age. He uses his cleanup projects as a way to be sociable with others in his community and when he stops, whether by order or age, he will regrettably have fewer avenues for interacting with his neighbors.

As the holidays approached, Duguay noted the waste company’s drivers put out envelopes looking for Christmas tips. “You can imagine, there was no tip from us this year.”

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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