Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: Can I opt out of garbage and recycling altogether (and not have to pay for pickup)? I’m not there half the year and even when I am, I take my garbage and recycling to a friend’s house because: A. I’m considered “a senior citizen” (over age 65), and I don’t want to deal with bears, and B. Now that I’m over retirement age and my driveway is very steep, I don’t want to try to maneuver heavy cans down (runaway cans!) or push empty ones back up. I sure don’t want to slip and break any bones. I’m 23 years older than I was when I bought my Asheville home. Back then, at age 47, it was no big deal to get garbage/recycling to the curb. But now it is, with bears and a very steep driveway. At my parents’ house, they had a very long and steep driveway going down, and the sanitation department had a program for any older people where a garbage collector would go to your garbage cans and get the trash, so the elderly didn’t have to wrestle with hills or even on flat land if they were really decrepit. I see where the city has such a program now, but only if you’re low income. I don’t think I would fit that category. I tried to search online but could not see anything about this. I really do resent having to pay $220 a year for recycling when I’m never there, or when I am, I take my recyclables and trash to a friend’s house. And I don’t even remember the city cost for garbage pickup — it’s probably comparable.

My answer: Have you thought about just asking your neighbor to fully take over your garbage operation? You’re so close to having the perfect system — one that involves no effort on your part, and the neighbor pays.

Real answer: Spoiler alert!

“Residents cannot opt out of the solid waste fee,” City of Asheville spokesperson Kim Miller said via email.

The city has its reasons for this. The solid waste fee, which is applied to city residents’ water accounts, is $16 a month, or $192 a year.

“For this fee, residents receive weekly trash collection, bi-weekly recycling and yard waste collection, and bulky and scrap metal collection,” Miller said. “The solid waste fee also supports additional city efforts to maintain cleanliness and public health, including sanitation code enforcement throughout the city and the collection of trash and recycling from public street receptacles.”

Miller said Asheville does have a special set-out, or doorside, service for residents who may be unable to get carts to the curb on collection day.

Waste Pro, as well as the city of Asheville, offers a program to assist the elderly with garbage disposal. 

“This program is not based on income level,” Miller said. “It’s available to eligible residents at no additional cost.”

You can find information on the program here, or by calling the Sanitation Division at (828) 259-5857.

If you live in Buncombe County, or a town where Waste Pro does the pickups, you can opt out, county spokesperson Lillian Govus said via email.

“No one has to get Waste Pro service,” Govus said. “Lots of folks elect to take their trash and recyclables to the landfill or transfer station themselves.”

Waste Pro does offer a program for people over 65, Govus added.

Both the City of Asheville and Waste Pro offer programs to help the elderly or others who have trouble moving trash bins to pick up spots.

You can find more information on Waste Pro’s Buncombe County site

Waste Pro started its “Elderly/Low-Income Discount Program” in Buncombe in January 2020. If you’re 65 or older, make below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, or receive federal public assistance, and you are unable to take your cart to your pick-up location, call Buncombe County Solid Waste at (828) 250-5460 to see if you qualify.

Waste Pro does note the program is limited to 700 eligible subscribers, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Question: I read something in Mountain Xpress about you playing pickleball and not dominating every single game. That’s gotta be fake news, right?

My answer: If you had said, “… and not dying in every single game,” that would be much more believable.

Real answer: Yes, you may well have read my friend Edwin Arnaudin’s account of our pickleball game played in late December. It’s a delightful, humorous description of the match, which included yours truly, my colleague here at the ‘Dog, Barbara Durr, and as Edwin described him, my “pickleball dealer,” Scott Fowler, who got me hooked on the game last year.

Asheville Watchdog and Mountain Xpress engaged in a pickleball duel of sorts in late December. From left, Watchdog reporter Barbara Durr, Mountain Xpress writer Edwin Arnaudin, Watchdog’s John Boyle and West Asheville resident Scott Fowler pose on the Malvern Hills Park court after the contest. Don’t ask who won…

We couldn’t have a true Mountain Xpress/Asheville Watchdog throwdown, as Edwin’s compatriot couldn’t make the Friday afternoon showdown at Malvern Hills Park. But Barbara and I played a few games together, holding our own, but let’s just say, “not exactly winning.”

It’s about how you play the game, right? OK, we didn’t play the game particularly well, but we had fun – if you consider fun dodging a rocketing Wiffle ball hit by Fowler at your head. Or trying to get a daggum shot past Edwin, who is 6 foot 5 and has the reflexes of a giant cat.

Mountain Xpress reporter Edwin Arnaudin, described by John Boyle as “like a giant cat, but quicker,” smacks a backhand, while West Asheville resident Scott Fowler does what he does best – stand around.

As you probably know by now, pickleball has divided the tennis and pickleball communities into battling factions bent on dominating court time. The city decided to stripe all the tennis courts for pickleball, which will likely lead to an armageddon of sorts, resulting in mass casualties of older pickleballers (hey, tennis players have those long racquets to fight with), and the occasional paddling of a sassy tennis player.

Or the pickleball players, who tend to be older, will slowly reduce their ranks through self-inflicted injuries.

At any rate, yes, we all played pickleball, and it was fun. Victorious for the Watchdogs? 

Not so much …


Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at  jboyle@avlwatchdog.org or (828) 337-0941.

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