County recycling plan takes a step forward

The push for a county waste recycling program gained momentum Monday with the Marion County Commission deciding to consider who might process a single stream of recyclables for the county.

Such a process, they said, might reduce county handling in separating materials such as paper, plastics and metals.

Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt was to check with Sunoco paper mill in Hutchinson, which provides the cardboard baling machine and takes recyclables from the county now.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke was to check with Stutzman Environmental Services of Hutchinson, which already provides recycling for the City of Peabody and operates solid waste disposal from many locations in the county.

The commissioners said the objective of recycling isn?t to make a profit from it, but to save money by removing it from the waste stream going to landfills.

?We are at the mercy of landfills deciding what they will charge us,? said Commissioner Dan Holub.

Holub said he has received phone calls from several persons on recycling ?passionately wanting to keep it going. It?s the right thing to do.?

He said people in the smaller towns of the county, and at the schools, want a program that has a county recyclable trailer coming in one Saturday a month to receive collections.

The pick-up program has used volunteer labor with Holub doing a large share of the volunteering himself. He characterizes it as something that began slowly but has gained momentum in the county.

The transfer station itself maintains drop-off windows for recyclables.

Holub said he would want any costs for recycling to be maintained within the $81 solid waste fee already paid by each county household.

?We could do that,? he added.

Commissioner Bob Hein and Dallke both said they also consider recycling ?the right thing to do.?

Hein said the county may have to be involved to keep the service affordable for county residents because some services can run high.

Hein said if another pickup truck to pull the recycling trailer is required for recycling, it may cost in the $15,000 range, plus another $10,000 required for a used trailer.

Dallke said he thought recycling could cost the county $100,000 to get it going.

He thought that equipment should be adequate and look nice if it is representing Marion County.

The commissioners asked Schmidt if he would speak up as to what he thinks really should be done.

Schmidt replied that he thinks if the county is going to be involved in recycling, it needs to take it over with a commission resolution that excludes other programs from operating in the county.

?We would do it all,? he said.

The best alternative to this, he said, would be for the county to get completely out of it, to let private companies such as Stutzman?s do whatever is done.

The commissioners voted to allow Schmidt to cooperate with other county departments in sharing a secretary to replace one he lost. They also directed him to seek a half-time multi-task person to work at the transfer station, in noxious weeds and in household hazardous waste.

Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for the aging department, said the daily nutrition program for the Goessel Senior Center, including both meals at the Center and meals on wheels, is in danger of being closed by the Flint Hills North Central Area Agency on Aging because of an insufficient number of people using it.

She said Goessel needs to serve at least 15 persons daily, not just average that, to keep its program.

Ratzlaff said she and her staff ended up enrolling 100 persons in prescription drug plans.

In the next program, she said, they will assist persons 55 and older in obtaining homestead tax relief on income tax to help with paying property tax.

Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville said the county has been paid to haul rock for cattlemen and oil companies that must have better surface access on dirt roads to places they operate.

He said it may cost a private company $8 a ton for the gravel with 400 tons required for a mile of dirt road. In addition, Summerville said, the county charges $2.10 a loaded mile for a county truck to haul the rock.

The commissioners were in executive sessions for personnel with Director of Communications and Emergency Management Michele Abbot, Schmidt and Summerville.

The commissioners discussed financing for a new jail and communications center at a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19, delayed from the normal Monday meeting time because of Martin Luther King Day.

The commissioners, Sheriff Rob Craft, County Attorney Susan Robson, and jail committee members Don Kraus, Mike Kleiber, Bryan Harper, Chuck Seifert, Dale Smith Barb Britton, Rocky Hett and Gene Pearson met by teleconference with David Arteberry, bond counsel with George K. Baum & Company, Kansas City, and Jonathan Small, bond attorney, Topeka.

Small was asked to speak with staff members of the Kansas Attorney General?s Office regarding whether an assessment fee of $10 a month, $120 a year, on each property tax payer in the county would be constitutional for financing the jail.

Abbott was re-appointed to represent Marion County on the South Central Regional Council for Homeland Security.

She said Marion County should be receiving $45,000 for her time as 2007 fiscal agent for SCRC.

The commissioners approved Louis Harrison?s e-waste recycling plan for Hillsboro and Marion fitting within the county solid waste plan, which requires him to get a permit from the state. Harrison will work from his garage under a permit received from the City of Hillsboro.

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