EATON — Joe Overton, Community Manager for Lakengren, met with the Preble County Board of Commissioners during their meeting on Wednesday, July 8, to discuss the recent issues with recycling had by the community.
Overton began by explaining the relationship Lakengren has with the Preble County landfill and how the community has used the landfill for bulk recycling for a number of years.
“What happened early this year, there was some equipment that was down. We were not able to take the recycle, the bulk, to the containers. We understood that it did not make sense operationally for us to continue on Friday just to take the bulk recycles where our community was thinking we were recycling and then take them up and put them in the normal landfill,” Overton explained. “I thought that was — we weren’t being transparent, so we suspended the recycling until the equipment was going to get fixed.”
Overton said they later were informed that the bulk recycling container that Lakengren used was shutting down permanently, and he asked the commissioners to consider reopening the bulk recycling container, citing the potential financial strain on the community ranging from $12,000 to $84,000.
Beyond losing access to recycling, Overton and Lakengren Board of Trustees President Sue Wulff expressed concerns that there was not any communication that the bulk recycling container would be closing.
“As Joe mentioned, we are the second largest community in Preble County, and it seemed like it was, to be honest with you, a smack in the face that nobody came to us and said, ‘Is there something we can work with? Would you be willing to pay something? Can we work on some kind of a compromise?’ Instead, we’re just cut off at the knees,” Wulff said.
Preble County Sanitation Engineer Kyle Cross then spoke more in-depth about the process of disposing of Lakengren’s recyclables.
“I’m not sure if you have been over to witness how this actually takes place, but essentially, as basic as I can break this down, your truck comes over and dumps recycling on the ground,” Cross said. “We have to take one of our pieces of equipment, typically the backhoe, and load it into the recycling dumpster. That takes time away that’s being diverted from landfill operations, in addition to the increase in litter, which is a pretty big offense in the eyes of the EPA.”
Commissioner Denise Robertson added she was not aware this was how Lakengren’s recyclables were disposed of.
Cross then spoke of additional solutions which had been provided to Lakengren to deal with their recycling.
“In addition to discontinuing the bulk recycling at the landfill, in the letter to Lakengren, it also included that we would provide the dumpsters at no charge to Lakengren such as our city of Eaton, Farmer’s Market and other locations around the county…” Cross said. “Those concessions or alternatives were presented to Lakengren as well.”
Commissioner Rodney Creech then took the opportunity to apologize for not communicating clearly the bulk recycling container would close.
“Things have been going fast and I think we definitely messed up on the communication side. But you know, and listening to Kyle, you know, we’re running a very inefficient operation down there with recycling,” Creech said. “I would say either take it somewhere that is efficient or hopefully utilize the dumpsters like other communities are doing. But I do believe consistency is huge, and if we’re going to do do something for one, we need to do it for all and I feel like we’re being consistent if we go to the dumpsters. In fact, it should reduce your cost, I would think.”
Overton explained they would need two dumpsters on each side of the community for recycling, and Cross responded that they would start with two dumpsters and gauge how often pickups would be needed or if there would be a need for more dumpsters.
Cross added, Lakengren could decide where they want to put the dumpsters, and Overton said it would be discussed at the Lakengren Board of Trustees meeting on July 27.
“Well, very good. I certainly appreciate the meeting, the time and the solution offered, and I think now the board has some work to do,” Overton said. “And we’ll get that done and get it taken care of.”
In other business:
Preble County Auditor Lavon Wright met with the commissioners during their meeting on Monday, July 6 to discuss the Monthly Financial Report for June.
General Fund revenues totaled $491,808.88, down $236,952.49 from 2019, due to a $237,500 advance to Sewer District 6.
Sales tax revenue for June totaled $449,828.39 from April sales, down by $75,157.67 compared to 2019.
“The nice thing is technically I feel like we’ve already made it over the hump,” Creech said. “If our April sales tax didn’t take a huge hit, I can’t see how May…I mean, May has gotta be better than April.”
Cross provides update on Sewer District 6
“Sewer District 6 is continuing to have meetings with CDM Smith on the design. Week before last, we did get the 30 percent design for the collection and the treatment, both submitted to us,” Cross said. “Jeff [Rogers] and I have been going over those comments and working with CDM Smith on getting some of the little minor things worked out.”
Additionally, Cross said they are looking to award a bid in June 2021, and he said this would result in a completion date after Labor Day of next year.
The Preble County Board of Commissioners meet severy Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Preble County Courthouse. These meetings are open to the public.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @BradenMoles