County puts hold on recycling grant for school districts

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

Although this is a trailer for residents at one of the county's compactor sites, the trailers made for the school districts would be adapted specifically for school use. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

MOUND CITY – When recently hired Public Works Director Shaun West asked the Linn County Commission on Monday, Aug. 16, for approval to sign and finalize a grant to place recycling containers at county schools, he likely was expecting quick approval.

The grant, which was written in late May by Shay Hanysak, regional director of the the Lake Region Solid Waste Authority (LRSWA), in conjunction with the Linn County Solid Waste Department and previous Public Works Administrator Jackie Messer, was recently approved.

The grant would provide $25,000 to place specialized recycling containers at the county’s three school districts as part of a pilot program for all the schools in the six-county Lake Region district. The county’s share of the grant is $8,333.

On Aug. 2, Hanysak met with the commissioners and explained the grant award for the recycling trailers. She was not asked to explain the details of the program at that time.

Linn County Counselor Gary Thompson pointed out that contract for the grant was a standard grant contract and the total of the project would be approximately $33,000 with a portion paid by the county.

Commissioner Danny McCullough asked West if Pleasanton school district had already built a recycling trailer. McCullough said that he had hoped that each school district would build their own trailers and learn something about recycling that way.

West said that Pleasanton had taken a used trailer and refurbished it as a pilot project for this grant process. The new recycling trailer will either replace the old one or it can be used to swap it out when the other trailer is taken to be emptied.

Are schools throwing in anything on this?, McCullough asked.

West said he could not answer that without looking it up as he was not involved in the project when the grant was written.

West said that this grant also provided for training about recycling in the schools. Pleasanton had gone a step farther and written a grant to have bins in the building.

McCullough said he remembered when the county talked about this and he had hoped the school districts might build their own trailers. Instead, a grant will pay someone else to build it.

Commissioner Jim Johnson pointed out that the county would get three new trailers for the $8,333.

Both West and Thompson pointed out that the work the county does on education and painting the trailers will count as in-kind match against the $8,333.

McCullough said he thought the county could find used trailers and have the school district shops revamp them. He also asked if it was going to take a three-day class to learn how to recycle by throwing bottles in a bin. What are they teaching?

Commission Chair Rick James said he could see both sides and understood how McCullough wanted the schools to work on building the trailers, but he also understood the opportunity of receiving three new recycling trailers for $8,333.

James pointed out the schools might be too busy to work on the trailers.

McCullough said that he really wanted the schools involved in teaching the students to build the trailers. He said he thought the county was going to make it more efficient for its solid waste workers to unload the trailers.

And while he said he did not want his decision to hold up getting the grant, he would like to learn more about what the schools were going to do.

The commission asked West to find out more about what the school districts wanted and were willing to do.

Thompson asked if West had a copy of the grant and that he might get a copy so the county could understand how it was going to work.

In a separate conversation with Hanysak on Tuesday, she said she thought the misunderstanding came from the change in public works administrators. Messer had been the one involved with the development of the program, and West was not familiar with what was written in the grant.

Hanysak said that all the school districts had been involved in the writing of the grant and had provided information on enrollment and other statistics that were needed for the grant.

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