Letter To The Editor: Can The County Manager Or Commissioners Pick Up My Trash?

What’s the big deal about trash decals?

A few days ago, I realized that my trash decal had expired and to ensure that I was compliant with County ordinances, I went online to pay the annual fee and order a decal. Unbelievable! Not only did the Public Utilities website state that it could take up to 3 weeks for the decal to ship, but also that receipts could NOT be used in lieu of a windshield decal at trash sites. Knowing that my sticker was out of date. and I couldn’t just let my trash pile up for a month as I waited for a decal to be shipped, I loaded up my truck and headed to Smithfield to pay for a decal in person.

Much to my amazement, the Public Utilities had barricaded the lobby. The public couldn’t enter, and there were signs instructing people what to do for all of the various services that a receptionist would typically be able to answer in just a few seconds. After several minutes of reading all of the signs, I found the one regarding the trash decal but I didn’t understand – the sign directed citizens to drop an application and money into a modified filing cabinet.

Eventually, I was able to ask a County Employee behind the barrier about paying for a trash decal (in person) and that I had a credit card and was ready to transact. Unfortunately, she told me that they didn’t take credit cards in person, and I would have to pay with a check or cash. Frustrated, I left and traveled to my local bank in town and withdrew cash and went back to the Public Utilities office. Finally! I could get my trash decal and be about my business and take my trash to the local container site.

When I returned back to the Public Utilities office, I spoke to a second employee in hopes that I would be successful. It was then that I realized that there was no possibility of my receiving a trash decal that day (or any day that week).

At that point, I witnessed a Hispanic gentleman attempt to buy a trash decal too when an employee simply handed him an application, and when he embarrassingly responded that he couldn’t write, he was instructed to take the form and have someone complete it for him.

It became apparent to me that the County’s website was not only misleading, but also wrong, and that it would be impossible for anyone to get a trash decal the same day as mentioned by the website. Begrudgingly, I completed the application and dropped it, along with a $100 bill, into a filing cabinet, not knowing when I would get a sticker or if my cash money would ever make it to where it needed to go. That was several days ago.

I have no idea whether my application was received, if my $100 ever made it to the cash register or if a decal has been shipped. If possible, I would greatly appreciate if someone could ask Rick Hester, Johnston County Manager, or any of the County Commissioners if they can please come pick up my trash as I wait for the “Same-day Service” decal to arrive via the U.S. Postal Service. And while they are at it, maybe they can find the Hispanic gentleman who was also wanting to buy a trash deal and fill out his application for him!


It is extremely frustrating the County is not reducing our 2020 property taxes due to COVID-19, as they reduced services to County residents. I am also disappointed that after 7 months of a global pandemic, barricading the Public Utilities lobby and eliminating all interaction with County employees is the best the County can do. Even Walmart and Lowes was able to install plexiglass during the early days of the pandemic so that customers could come and go and transact business. As our kids finally start back to school, I sure hope that County Commissioners start opening up Johnston County government, for the sake of the county and its hard-working tax payers.

A Life-Long Johnston County Resident,

John Durham
McGee’s Crossroads