Several residents of Conyers, Ga., smell something fishy about a recent contract that the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners approved in January without public discussion.
The five-year, no-bid contract was given to a company called Greenhood Industries to provide “consulting and management for design and implementation of residential waste and/or recycling and/or FOG (fats, oils and grease) collection programs,” according to the Rockdale Citizen newspaper.
“While the first phase of the contract is a no-cost exploratory study to give the county the chance to see the feasibility of curbside collection of household garbage and FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) … the second phase would give Greenhood oversight of any countywide collection program that bundles curbside collection of household waste at a monthly rate to be determined,” the newspaper recently reported.
Citizens are outraged because they have no idea what this countywide collection program might cost them down the road.
So, why should folks in Augusta care about the problems of Rockdale County?
Well, Augustans will likely recognize the name of the managing member of Greenhood Industries.
None other than Charles “Champ” Walker Jr.
That’s right, folks.
Champ Walker, the once 12th Congressional District candidate and son of former state Sen. Charles Walker, is the managing member of Greenhood Industries.
The company’s website states that it “provides the only Waste to Energy FOG Solution that collects Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) from residential communities, preventing Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs).”
“Our FOG Mitigation programs and collection systems for governments drive compliance, increase participation, reduce emissions and increase revenue at no- or low-cost,” Greenhood’s website states. “The implementation of a engineered Total FOG Solution will reduce/ eliminate major cost factors associated with repair and maintenance of our sewer systems as well as the treatment and disposal of brown grease.”
Who knew Champ Walker knew anything about waste collection, right?
(Pause for laughter.)
Most Augustans know Champ Walker as the son of former Sen. Charles Walker.
Others are also familiar with the fact that he has tried to promote his clothing line, Tatted Croc., for the past few years and sometimes hosts a fashion show around Masters Week called “Seersucker In Augusta.”
However, a lot of people have been surprised to learn that he is involved in Greenhood, a company offering major waste collection systems for counties around Georgia.
So, one might ask, where is Greenhood Industries based?
The Greenhood website lists its office at 1143 Laney Walker Blvd., in Augusta, otherwise known as The Walker Group building.
Apparently, Champ Walker is still keeping it all in the family.
Now, the next logical question is, why was Greenhood Industries chosen by the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners for this contract?
What kind of experience did Greenhood offer up to get the county government’s attention?
That’s where things get even more interesting.
The chairman of Rockdale County Board of Commissioners is native Augustan Oz Nesbitt.
For those locals who weren’t around 20 years ago, Nesbitt once was a Richmond County deputy marshal who made news after he was accused of groping a woman during a traffic stop way back in 1998.
Nesbitt always denied the claims, but he was still fired from his job in the marshal’s office for “violating department policy” about two decades ago.
For a little while, Nesbitt considered running for political office in Augusta, but instead, he headed to Conyers and ran for Rockdale County Board of Commissioners.
Nesbitt has served two four-year terms as Commissioner Post 1 in Rockdale County and is currently serving a four-year term as chairman of the commission.
Obviously, Nesbitt has a lot of political pull in Rockdale County.
Some of the residents of Conyers are questioning whether Nesbitt is using his power as chairman to help his old pal from Augusta, Champ Walker, get this five-year contract with the county.
And, yes, Nesbitt and Champ Walker know one another. Nesbitt has a post on his own Facebook page talking about attending a 2015 banquet to celebrate former Sen. Walker’s book release. It was a formal event that included former Gov. Roy Barnes at the dinner.
So, Nesbitt definitely knows the Walker family.
To make matters worse, the commission’s entire lack of public discussion during the approval of the contract also is not sitting well with the citizens of Rockdale County.
Nesbitt and his colleague, District 1 Commissioner Sherri Washington, have told the Rockdale County residents that their objective with the contract is to simply have a “cleaner community.”
But those critical of the contract insist that the entire waste collection contract “stinks,” and they have taken their complaints to the Rockdale Citizen.
Just last week, the newspaper started digging for information about Greenhood Industries and found Gust, a company that assists start-up companies with bookkeeping, hiring and funding, and lists Greenhood as being in Atlanta, with Charles Walker Jr. as the contact person.
The company summary for Greenhood on Gust states, “Greenhood contracts with governments to collect Residential FOG Fats, Oils and Grease to prevent sewer clogs that result from hardened grease. GHI designs and manages collection methodologies and funds collection of FOG at no cost to the government. GHI utilizes proprietary collection tools and kits to ensure no spillage, and storage capacity for various forms of FOG. A major contract is upcoming. Seeking funding now.”
A major contract is coming? Seeking funding now?
So, is this simply a start-up company by Champ Walker?
Let’s just say, Champ Walker better get all of his ducks in a row and not depend on his old buddy, Nesbitt, to shield him from the public, because the residents of Rockdale County are demanding answers … now.