Recycling Center approved for $350K grant

Yelena Kisler
Staff Writer

The big news at this month's Elk County Solid Waste Authority board meeting was the news that the state has approved the Authority's 902 grant application.
Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator Bekki Titchner reported the state has approved the Authority's Section 902 Recycling Grant request for approximately $350,000.
"We got everything we asked for," said Titchner about the approved total. "This should make things easier and safer."
The Authority still has to wait to receive the official paperwork to be finalized but asked the Board to approve putting a down payment on a conveyor shredder and roll off containers as the prices on these items has gone up due to tariff changes on steel since they got their initial quotes and want to lock in the purchases before prices go up any more.
"I'm sure [the shredder] is not the only thing that went up because of the tariffs," said Solid Waste Enforcement Officer, Dave Stubber. He added that they will most likely have to cut something nonessential from their original list to offset changes in the cost of other equipment the Center needs. He suggested something like the riding sweeper, which would be helpful, but isn't as necessary as some of the other items listed in the grant request.
After answering some of Chairman Tom Buck's questions regarding the grant's term limit and other details, the Authority moved to discussing other matters.
The contamination of plastics containers is still a big issue for the Center.
"It's the 'wish-cycling' thing," said Titchner. "People wish they could recycle [every kind of plastic]. They see a symbol on the bottom and automatically think it can be recycled."
Titchner noted that there will always be some amount of contaminations because the containers themselves are not marked. But they see very little contamination in paper containers overall. She added that the really big issue is with broken glass, and wondered about getting the staff tetanus shots.
Board member Jan Kemmer said she will find out if that is something that should be funded by the county, or what process needs to be taken to get everyone up to date on shots. Vice Chairman Mike Keller added that dust masks would also be a good idea and suggested looking for a business that would be willing to donate those.
Stackpole-Hall Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Dippold recently had an "eye-opening tour" of the Recycling Center.
"We always want to thank Stackpole for all that they do and all the funding they provide us," said Buck.
The LEC also recently toured the Center and the Authority received a 'thank you' note from them following their experience.
South St. Marys Elementary School teacher Mary Kay Candalor will be bringing her students to the Center next week to learn how to sort recyclables so they can help their teacher. Candalor, along with other teachers at SSMAS, regularly drops off the school's recycling to the Center.
Next, the Authority turned their attention to discussing illegal dumping, which remains an issue in the area. Titchner said the Authority's illegal dumping post received 1,000 views on social media, indicating that people are paying attention.
"What's sad is we can take the electronics that they dumped," said Titchner.
There is also an ongoing issue of illegal dumping in Jones Township by known residents in McKean County. Titchner explained that because they had been dumping their overall garbage in the container, officers were able to use some of their mail to determine the family's identity
She added that this is an issue throughout McKean County as they don't have a developed recycling program like Elk County does. Another McKean County resident, who the DEP is trying to work with, has a yard full of televisions from an attempt at home-recycling, but the process is proving difficult as all that is left are the glass and plastic in the televisions.
On the bright side, the Ridgway drop-off is proving to be extremely successful.
"It's the busiest in the area," said Titchner.
Since beginning in July, the Center staff has pulled 15 full containers, totaling $1,755 in profits for the Authority, a very high number for the region.
"They're very faithful [to recycling] in Ridgway," said Kemmer.
Stubber presented a brief enforcement officer report during which he noted two demolition permits had been approved for the month and another three closed. He reported that the Center is "moving stuff as fast as it comes in." They moved 158 tons this month and prices have been remaining stable.

The full story can be found in the print publication or E-Edition of the Ridgway Record, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.