Engineer, commissioners discuss SWD duties


EATON — Preble County Engineer Kyle Cross met with the Preble County Commissioners on Wednesday, April 19, to discuss the Solid Waste department’s activities and staffing. Cross has been filling in for the position vacated when former Solid Waste Assistant Director Beth Wright left earlier this year. He’s now looking at ways to fill the position without hiring a replacement and by changing some processes.

“It’s been a little over a month now since Beth left, and I have, I guess, been doing it in “interim capacity” has been the official term that I’ve used for the people I have correspondence with,” Cross said. “In looking at it, I think that this is something that we can maybe continue on, with some reallocation of existing staffing, instead of completely posting and trying to hire for that position.

“You know, one of the things that was always a concern was the amount of time that was spent policing the recycling bins and being a disproportionate use of time,” Cross told commissioners.

“When I was involved with the oversight of solid waste last year, there were really two big things that I had as goals for the year. One was to increase the educational component and the other being a more, a stronger presence with social media. I don’t necessarily feel that either of those were accomplished, either,” he added.

“What my proposal to you guys would be for this — I came up with kind of some bullet points to lay that out. The first being to utilize some landfill staff. Not so much to go do the dumpster monitoring as much as there are those things specific to solid waste that are housed at the landfill. Those being the tire trailer, the household hazardous waste, and the computer trailer,” Cross said.

Cross discussed ways to change the way tires, household hazardous waste and computers are taken

“Some of the things that we have going into those trailers, whether it be the computer or household hazardous waste, it’s kind of on an honor system, for the most part, where the individuals stop into the landfill. They fill out the log on their identification and what they’re putting into it. There are the regulars and that it’s, for the most part.

“Understand that many of the people who come, they’ve never been there before,” Cross said. “So kind of what we had talked about is one step further. That the drop off of would be at the office here at the landfill. Basically, like when you go to Walmart and you see those bins — they have like watermelons or pumpkins in. We’d have one for the Household Hazardous one for the computer trailer, and we actually can police it coming into the office. Then it would be taken from the back of the shop and put into those trailers. The public really at that point, is taken out of the equation.”

“Our cost compared to other counties is astronomical. We’d have the ability when you bring something in there, we can say ‘yes, we’ll take it, fill out the log,’ or ‘no, that’s not something that we handle, because we have set parameters on what comes into those trailers.’ It’s going to help us control both the cost of maintaining those, and a better use of time on how they’re organized,” Cross said.

Landfill staff would also be utilized for accounts billable and payables.

“The other part of it, which I’d mentioned before, is the education side of it. You know that’s one of the core things from our solid waste plan — engagement of the community,” Cross said, noting the Wright’s attendance and participation at events like the fair, Pork Festival, and others.

“What my thoughts are for that, is we hire part time or multiple retired teachers — or a teacher — that we can essentially kind of do a contract agreement with through the summer. What we need to really do is to tailor what our message with the recycling and how it needs to be done. That would be specific to our situation and would be what’s been vetted by Rumpke. They have made their educational person available to us,” Cross told commissioners.

“In general, part of that solid waste plan would be our quarterly newsletters, which would be on me, and then kind of the social media engagement, where working closely with the landfill, we can kind of tailor that message,” he added.

One example Cross shared was about lithium battery disposal.

“To really get out there about the lithium batteries — that they really need to be going to the household hazardous waste, and not just thrown in people’s trash,” Cross said. “I’m sure that you guys have heard we’ve had a couple of fires down there. We’re seeing a correlation between the frequency of fires and the use of lithium batteries. As those become more common, so have the issues with fire down there (at the landfill.)” Cross said there’s a need to get that information out to the public.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.

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