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Recycling Discussed At Solid Waste Meeting

By Staff | Sep 15, 2015

Recycling concerns were the topic of discussion at the Wednesday meeting of the Palo Alto County Sanitation Committee. Most of the communities in Palo Alto County were represented at the gathering, along with Mike Flannegan from Shamrock Recycling, Palo Alto County Supervisors Linus Solberg and Ron Graettinger, Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart, Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser and Palo Alto County Treasurer Robin Jamison, along with County Sanitarian Joe Neary.

“Basically we are meeting tonight because as of January 1, 2016, Horizons will no longer be in the recycling business, with the exception of can redemption. I want to talk about where communities are at today with recycling. It’s all about a solution, what works for the towns and the county putting together a plan for Palo Alto County and submitting it to the Department of Natural Resources. I have talked with several communities, and most have some types of recycling program in place that seems to be working pretty good,” explained Joe Neary to start the meeting.

Communities in the county either use a roll off container or have some type of trailers located in their community designed to collect recyclable materials.

“In Emmetsburg, we have recycling pickups twice a month curbside and then it is taken to Shamrock,” Emmetsburg Mayor Myrna Heddinger said.

“Rodman has a building people can bring recyclables to and then we have a deal with Horizons that they come and pick the stuff up,” Rodman Mayor Jean Hyslop said.

“Ayrshire has a trailer and we have a guy that takes it to Horizons when it gets full,” Jan Stowell, Ayrshire City Clerk said.

“I contacted several counties around to see what they are doing. Webster County has its own recycling center, the City of Spencer uses Van’s Sanitation of Le Mars, for their recycling and Dickenson County and its communities have a contract with Shamrock Recycling of Emmetsburg. All these areas are happy with plans they have currently,” Neary said.

“I really think we need to issue requests for proposal listing our expectations and getting it all in writing,” David Kirk, Mayor of Ruthven suggested.

“We need to put together something pretty fast. I am thinking that Horizons will stop taking recyclables about one month before January 1,” Neary said.

“I put together a proposal that should have been acted upon two weeks ago if I am going to do this so that I could put up a new building. Now, no one will guarantee a building could be put up by January 1,” Mike Flannegan of Shamrock Recycling said.

“”I think it would be too bad if Mike has to build a new facility with the Horizons building sitting empty,” noted Carmen Moser, Palo Alto County Auditor.

“I’ve said this before – I like to do business in the county, but you still need to get bids from everyone. We need to find out who can give us the best for the money,” commented Supervisor Linus Solberg.

“We need to get requirements on paper and have people come in and talk with us,” Monty Schany, Mayor of Graettinger said.

“What if we have a meeting with the Board of Supervisors, all parties in competition for the recycling and have Horizons there to talk about their building?” Solberg asked.

“I think we need to talk with Horizons first,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger commented.

“A nonprofit organization is acting like a profit company. If the county has been giving them money, they need to talk to us,” David Kirk, Mayor of Ruthven said.

‘I think it would be best to have a meeting with Horizons,” Neary said.

I would have a face-to-face with two supervisors, ask questions, if they are not forthcoming, then have a supervisors meeting,” said Peter Hart, Palo Alto County Attorney.

“Why can’t we have a public meeting?” Solberg asked.

“Your sure can,” Neary replied.

“I think what Joe is trying to say is that a public meeting is more adversarial and you could get more answers without being confrontational,” Kirk said.

“We need to decide what our requirements are, issue RFPs, talk with Horizons, get the proposals in and make a decision as quickly as possible,” Kirk said.

Discussion then turned to tipping fees at the transfer station. According to Neary the tipping fee has not been raised in two years and is currently $65 for everyone who drives in and tips at the station. Currently, the Commission is almost even in revenue and expense and so they are looking at raising the tipping fee slightly beginning in July 2016.