In Jan. 8 IssueBy Derek AaronNews-Register Editor
With thousands of dollars worth of equipment at their disposal, workers at the Russell County Recycling Center are busier than ever after a two-year “green” surge that’s sent recycling numbers into overdrive.
The workers stay busy all day, every day with loads of recyclables that come in from all over Russell County.
“The recycling center is really in full swing now, we’re really pushing it,” said Solid Waste Coordinator H.M Bottom. “In the last two years we’ve more than doubled in what we’re picking up and selling and you can attribute that to the schools, factories, and most all your commercial places.”
Bottom said an $89,680 state recycling grant received by the county last year also helped as the county was able to purchase a new book cutter, a larger bailer, a set of scales, a glass pulverizer, and a shredder to go along with four new mobile recycling trailers.
The county now has 10 mobile trailers set up at various locations throughout the community, including at Lake Country Outdoors BP in Middletown, the Key Village Shopping Center area in Russell Springs and near the Dollar General Store in the Jamestown area as well as all for elementary schools, among the others.
“They’re using them and they’re working real well,” said Troy “Blackie” Meadows, the recycling center’s supervisor, of the mobile recycling trailers. Bottom also welcomed parents to bring in their recyclable items to the schools, so they, too, can be involved in a cleaner Russell County.
“We’re also picking up Casey County’s recyclable stuff and that really helps our totals,” he added.
Bottom said the new large-scale bailer and shredder have really come in handy as materials have increased.
“We’re able to bail cardboard, paper and plastic bottles, among other things,” he said. The glass pulverizer, too, has come in handy as the market for recycled glass has grown and the facility is now able to take glass to recycle. The pulverizer crushes the glass into a small, fine substance that is safe to the touch and is very marketable.
“Plus, the increase in recycling has really cut down on roadside litter and dumps and it has cut down on garbage bills for people,” Bottom said. “In the past two or three years we’ve been approved for grants, mainly because of our increase that we’ve had in making it work.”
Bottom said state officials have also visited the facility and came away amazed at how much is done there.
The county sells their recyclables to Central Kentucky Fiber Resources and has done so for several years now, garnering praise from Barry Prater with the Lexington recycling facility.
In the past Prater has said Russell County, per capita diversion, sends more to be recycled than most communities in the state that his company deals with, saying the community should be proud of the recycling efforts and the strides that have been made by the center.
With Bottom ready to submit grant proposals for 2011, he said at the top of the wish list is a storage building for the local facility to store many of the machines and recyclables that need to be under roof.
“We’re asking for expansion,” Bottom said. “And we also need another Bobcat to use out here.”
In applying for the grant with their current track record, odds are the center will receive at least a partial, if not a full grant this year.
“We’ve had people in from all over to see the set-up here,” he said. “The state has been really pleased with us.”
With the center having only three full-time and one part-time employee, it relies on four to five inmate workers to help carry the load.
“Without that help we would really be in trouble,” Bottom said.
The facility began with just one worker around 10 years ago and Meadows said when he took over as supervisor four years ago the facility made just $1,800 the year before he took the position. That shows the growth the recycling facility has undergone in such a short time period.
“Blackie and I will both agree that we’ve really had support in the past in our recycling program,” Bottom said. “In talking to Judge Robertson this week, he assured me he was very interested in the program and anything he could do to help us update the program we could depend on him to do so.”
Judge-Executive Gary Robertson, who was a magistrate the past four years, was part of a fiscal court, along with former judge Mickey Garner, which made recycling a top county priority.
“Even if it didn’t make any money, it would still be a good thing,” Meadows said. “This is something you’ve got to have.”
Bottom again secured a grant this year for the roadside litter program, which also will help county aesthetics.
Items such as food cans, soda bottles, milk jugs, glass, magazines, newspaper, junk mail, plastics, all types of appliances, metal roofing, computers, cell phones and many other electronics are just some of the items that are accepted. The facility even burns used motor oil for its heat.
The facility cannot take Styrofoam, tires, shingles or plastic grocery bags.
Meadows said he sends out approximately a semi-truck load and a half a week to Lexington and Bottom said all of the growth at the center recently was due to state grants and was not at local taxpayer’s expense.
The continued growth of the local recycling program has been a sight to behold and signs are there is no stopping now.