Twenty-nine people, including 23 representatives from 11 towns in Marion County, gathered May 28 for an initial discussion about establishing a countywide recycling program.
The program would provide single-stream recycling, meaning residents would not have to sort their recyclables. In some instances, a wider variety of materials could be recycled as well.
The intent of the program is to reduce the amount of materials that currently are being hauled by the county to regional landfills, thus saving taxpayer money.
The recycling discussion was on the agenda for the May 28 county commission meeting, but with the large turnout the meeting was moved from the commission meeting room to the courtroom.
The outcome of the meeting was the establishment of a task force that will research the issue and report its findings within 60 days. Commissioner Dan Holub will lead the task force.
At the commissioners’ May 31 meeting, they formally approved the following people to serve under Holub’s leadership: Rollin Schmidt, technical consultant; Francie Mueller, USD 397; Traci Werner, Florence; Eileen Sieger, rural Marion County; Larry Smith, Goessel; Larry Paine, Hillsboro; Joe Vinduska, Lincolnville; Doug Kjellin, Marion; Adam Stewart, Marion County Record.
The meeting began with an opportunity for comments. Most were positive about recycling in general, and about exploring a county-wide plan.
Mary Shipman, mayor of Florence, said her community is interested in recycling and is ready to do whatever it can to help get a program started.
Doug Kjellin, Marion city administrator, said Marion could easily switch one of its routes to a single-stream recycling, but would need to educate the public, as well as those collecting the recyclables. The city also would need a place to haul the materials.
City Administrator Larry Paine said Hillsboro is preparing to replace one of its trash trucks. If a recycling plan were to move forward, it could affect the size and type of truck the city would purchase.
Paine also said the city is doing well with its current volunteer-run recycling center.
Dave Schrag, mayor of Goessel, and Anita Goertzen, city clerk, provided information about the program recently initiated in their community.
They said a roll-off Dumpster has been modified to make recycling more user-friendly. The bin is emptied every two weeks. The cost of the program is covered through volunteer contributions. They indicated the city is interested in continuing with its own program.
Representatives from Durham said they have received some complaints since the single-stream bin has been discontinued there. Gary Unruh said when the bin was in place, the town’s volume of trash was reduced by two-thirds.
Mayor Jessica Gilbert said residents of Ramona would be content as long as the drop-off was within eight to 10 miles of town.
Mayor Ron Godwin said people in Burns are “very interested” in recycling and would like to participate if the cost and logistics would work.
Joe Vinduska, representing the city of Lincolnville, said the town could construct some sort of collection bin, and could haul the recyclables to the transfer station weekly.
In response to that comment, Goodwin and Gilbert agreed something like that could probably work in their communities, too.
Jan Helmer, Marion resident, said many people from Marion were using the bin at Florence to take advantage of single-stream recycling rather than taking their recyclables to the transfer station in Marion.
Eileen Sieger, rural Marion, said she was using the bin in Florence, but is now sorting her recyclables and bringing them to the transfer station. She said single-stream recycling would greatly increase participation.
Steve Meyer, representing South Central Recycling based in North Newton, said the best way to get people to recycle is to charge them to dump their trash and make recycling free.
Francie Mueller, representing the Centre school district, asked if a bin could be placed at the school, which would be a central location for rural residents in the northeast part of the county.
In other business, the commissioners:
• following a five-minute executive session with Cindy Magill, county appraiser, voted 2-1, with Randy Dallke dissenting, to renew Magill’s contract through June 30, 2017.
The commissioners encouraged Magill to provide additional reports to them, and to make sure taxpayers feel welcomed in her office “through an increased level of empathy.”
• heard Holub report that the Water Restoration and Protection Services (WRAPS) program will now be administered by Marion County Conservation District.
• accepted a fuel bid from Cooperative Grain & Supply, Hillsboro, totaling $26,418.50 for 5,000 gallons of diesel and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline. Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa had submitted a competing bid of $26,338.50.
—Based on meeting minutes