A crackdown on agencies and businesses bringing trash to a waste transfer station in Shiprock could force the tribe, federal agencies and nonprofit groups such as day care centers and Head Start to contract with a private trash hauler. San Juan County's director of public works and the head of the Navajo Nation's solid waste management program said Aug. 14 an agreement between the tribe and the county was never meant to allow free garbage service for nonresidential entities. Residents are allowed to drop off up to 4 cubic feet of trash a day at the transfer station - enough to load a pickup truck. Attorneys for the county public works division and the tribe's solid waste program, joined by representatives of the Indian Health Service, reached an agreement last month to ask agencies and businesses to stop bringing trash to the transfer station. The tribe and county each pay half of the $360,000 annual cost to operate three transfer stations. The 10 percent of Shiprock waste transfer station customers who are not residential customers are almost entirely agencies. Since late last year, the tribe has closed 16 illegal dump sites in the Shiprock and Hogback areas, said Vernon Nez of the Navajo Environmental Protection Agency.
A federal judge ruled Raymond Tan's seven drunken-driving convictions can't be used against him in a case in which he is charged with killing a man in a crash. Tan, of San Juan County, 42, is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 21 on charges of second-degree murder in the death of William F. Sliney and assault resulting in serious injury to Sliney's son, Sean F. Sliney. Both were riding motorcycles May 29, 1999, when they collided with a pickup truck being driven by Tan south of Shiprock. Court records show Tan admitted drinking a bottle of wine as he drove, and that his blood-alcohol content was 0.28 percent, more than three times the limit in New Mexico. Tan pleaded innocent. Records show he pleaded guilty to the same accident in tribal court June 2, 1999 - to vehicular homicide, drunken driving, driving without a valid license and two counts of failure to secure a child or infant in restraints. He was sentenced to 495 days in jail. U.S. District Judge C. LeRoy Hansen ruled Aug. 2 the DWI history would be "unfairly prejudicial" because jurors might choose to punish him not only for the crash, but for previous convictions.