Commonwealth Journal

December 10, 2013

Recycling will be done on a weekly basis in City of Somerset

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Good news for recycling fans — the city will be coming to collect more often.

At Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting, Mayor Eddie Girdler made the decision to make recycling pick-ups a weekly thing in the city, starting immediately.

Previously, the City had been collecting from the new recycling bins distributed to homes throughout town every other week.

However, the demand was great — so the city will supply more.

This came after Councilor Jim Rutherford informed his colleagues that some individuals weren’t handling their materials quite right, putting any garbage into the cans marked specifically for recyclable materials. Rutherford noted that this was happening on weeks when recyclables weren’t scheduled to be picked up, and asked about putting up a notice of some sort on TV or on users’ bills detailing which days the trash collectors will empty the recycling bins.

However, Girdler noted that in the first pick-up week — the city kicked-off the program back in early in November —  approximately 10,000 tons of recyclables were collected.

“It’s really taken off,” said Girdler. “It’s unbelievable. People are buying into it.”

Girdler expected that the program would be fully implemented in about four to six months — enough time to work out all the glitches — and going to a weekly pick-up schedule would be necessary by that point.

“We do have growing pains,” said Girdler. “A lot of times, they put the instructions (on the bin delivered to homes and businesses), sometimes they didn’t. ... In three or four months, we’ll probably have to go to an every-week schedule simply because people are absolutely using it and requesting additional cans because they’re loving the program.”

The City is loving it too, for bottom-line reasons, Girdler said that the recycling program is expected to save Somerset about $100,000 to $200,000 in landfill costs.

Girdler said another 2,000 cans will arrive to distribute around mid-January.

“We thought, ‘Well, are they going to do it, are they not going to do it?’” said Girdler. “... It’s really overwhelmed us in terms of people using it.”

As such, rather than waiting for several more months to get the program more firmly in place, Girdler issued an order calling for weekly pick-ups.

That policy will start as of the next scheduled garbage collection for each Somerset resident. Just put out recyclables with the other garbage on whatever day your regularly scheduled pick-up in, and the waste management personnel will take it.

One problem faced by recycling program users has been wheels coming off of the bins. Girdler said that the City has replacement wheels and will change those out for any citizen experiencing problems.

“I do thank the council for supporting the program,” said Girdler. “It’s been remarkable. ... We do appreciate our citizens endorsing it and using it.”

In other city council business:

• Citizen activist Mickey Williams stopped by the council meeting to once again share his concerns about the price of gasoline in Somerset, saying it’s the “most important” issue facing the city. Each councilor responded to Williams’ comments, indicating they shared his concerns.

Most indicated that they didn’t know what could be done about what they perceived as overly steep prices, but showed support for the City’s plans to sell fuel at its own government-owned station. Councilor Tom Eastham suggested business owners buying gas look outside of town to do so, and councilor John Ricky Minton suggested contacting the NBC news program “Dateline” about the situation he perceives as a problem.

• Girdler discussed the City partnering with the Kentucky Department of Education to acquire a couple of compressed natural gas-powered school buses.

• The council held a second reading regarding the voluntary annexation of a property located at 588 Ky. 39. The property is owned by F&A Investment Group, Inc.

The ordinance was unanimously approved by the council.

• The council also unanimously approved buying a piece of property on Randolph Street that would be torn down to potentially be made into a small community park. The property is valued at $30,000, but the City got a price of $18,000 for it after meeting with its owners following concerns by neighbors.

“(Owners) did some corrective repairs on it, but after discussion with our staff, they decided they would offer it to the city for purchase,” said Girdler. “... The price is very reasonable.”

• The council passed a resolution adopting environmental mitigation measures established by the USDA as relating to the City’s energy center project. The measures would seek to alleviate impacts to the environment in the project area.

• Girdler announced a Christmas dinner for the City on Thursday, December 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Golden Corral, which will include a signing ceremony for the utility usage agreement between the City of Somerset and City of Ferguson. Mayor Allen Dobbs and the Ferguson City Council have been invited to attend the dinner.

Ferguson citizens will get new, lower rates in the month of December as a result of the agreement.