Volume 104, Number 11 - March 15, 2007
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Recycling Center called ‘a mess’
The Sublette County Commissioners and the Pinedale Town Council have recently heard several citizens voicing their concerns about the Recycling Center in Pinedale.
During the Friday commissioners’ meeting, a citizen walked in and in no uncertain terms, told the elected officials the center “is a mess.”
In a later interview, this concerned resident avowed that she would no longer recycle until the center was cleaned up and made it convenient to recycle .
As with the other citizens who spoke with the commissioners about the center , they told her to go to the Recycling Board.
The Town Council on Monday advised Wendi Schwartz, owner of Café on Pine, that the Recycling Center was a county issue, but Mayor Steve Smith added that they would look into it.
“It is an embarrassment. Shame on recycling. They really need to get their act together,” Schwartz said in an interview on Tuesday. According to the Sublette Citizens for Recycling Board, Sublette County gives the majority of the funding for the center, at $92,904 in the 2006-2007 budget. The Town of Pinedale contributed $2,500 for that budget, while the center is expected to earn $22,500 from the sale of recyclable materials.
Disarray at the center is not the only issue for citizens and businesses. Sev- eral programs, like residential curbside pickup and business pickup have fallen to the wayside in the last several years.
Recycling Coordinator, Marti Siepp says this is because of a lack of manpower. Siepp, who was appointed in December 2005 upon the departure of the previous coordinator, Sue Kramer, said “we are not funded or equipped to do curbside pickup.”
As for cardboard pickup from businesses, Siepp acknowledged “60 businesses would like to be picked up once a week. That’s beyond our capabilities.” Currently, the center picks up cardboard from “a few” businesses, Siepp said.
Cardboard is a relatively lucrative recyclable , garnering a solid buy-back rate.
According to a schedule of business pickups from 2004, the center was picking up cardboard from over 40 businesses. The Board’s budget has seen a steady increase over the last several years, increasing almost $25,000 from 2005-2006 to the current budget. Schwartz, who noted that now she has to send her employees, in her van, to take cardboard to the center. There, she claims, “they are not greeted politely.”
“Since Sue Kramer left, it’s fallen apart,” Schwartz commented, adding that the center “is not open on a regular basis” to the list of issues like the curbside pickup program and business pickup.
As a business owner, Schwartz refutes any lack of workforce arguments. She says for the last eight years she’s “never had a terrible problem” trying to find employees, and noted “Whatever the circumstances, [the center] does not pull all the resources possible to get the job done.”
“We’re going to make some changes. We don’t have all the answers,” Siepp said in a phone interview, after the resignation of a full-time employee last week.
“The majority of the issues we have come from the fact that we just don’t have a workforce . Those concerns are going to continue ,” she added, “[ The center] needs to rely more on automation because of the lack of workforce.”
Siepp said the Board is looking at getting another baler. The Board’s budget for this fiscal year allots $82,673 for Recycling center employee wages. That is up about $5,000 from last year.
This sum is divided, in the budget, among a 40/hour coordinator position, and two 20 hour part time positions for operators. According to Siepp, before the departure of a recent fulltime employee, she had two operators working 40-hour weeks. Now, she says she has two part-time and one “pretty much full time.”
Contrary to the budget, she works 20-hour weeks for an undisclosed, by the Board, hourly wage. Board chair Caroline Sulenta, who would not release Siepp’s wages, said “we’re going to figure that out at our next meeting.” That meeting will be held next Wednesday, March 21. The 40-hour position for the coordinator has a budgeted salary of $44,172. Siepp said the remainder of that not being used for her wages has been reapportioned.
Sue Kramer volunteered that over the years she worked as coordinator, she made between $12- $13 dollars an hour for a 20-hour position. However, Kramer noted, she often worked 7-8 hour days, “or whatever it took to get the job done.”
Board member Sally Mackey said she understands the citizens’ outrage. Of the mess, she noted “It’s materials that we haven’t been able to turn over. The main problem is that the volume has increased so much.”
“We’re working on getting all that cleaned up,” she added.
Board member Diane Alexander did not return calls seeking comment. “We have to recycle,” Schwartz earnestly said. “This is a worldwide issue. We can’t let recyclables go to the trash dump.” However, on Tuesday, a garbage truck was summoned to the Center by Siepp, says a BNC Trash Services employee. When questioned, Siepp said the truck was there for trash. The BNC employee says otherwise. “This will be almost two truckloads of mostly recyclables,” he noted, explaining that much of the pickup was magazines, plastics, and pop cans.
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