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Grants help in recycling

Monday, July 3, 2006

(Photo)
Steven Cole loads newspapers into a recycling bin at Sonny's Solid Waste.
SIKESTON - Dexter has four. Charleston has two. Bloomfield, Bernie, Dudley, Essex and Advance all have one.

Recycling trailers, which offer a 24/7 drop-off opportunity for citizens, can be found all across the Bootheel area. All are paid for with the help of grant money in an effort to increase the amount of recycled waste.

Dexter's four recycling trailers allow citizens to dispose of plastic, newspaper, cardboard, paper, aluminum cans and glass.

"The first two were bought with money the city came up with," said M.A. Heart, retired head of the Dexter Street Department. "Once those were filling to capacity, we applied for grant money and came up with two more trailers."

The Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission awards grant money every year to six local counties to set up recycling programs, including New Madrid, Mississippi, Stoddard and Scott counties.

"We receive $175,000 to $200,000 a year to give out as grants," said Steve Dukes, executive director of the BRPC. "Almost every community has a trailer. All a city has to do is make an application for a trailer or two and if it can show a viable need for the trailer, chances are they will receive grant money."

Nearly every city in the Bootheel area has taken the initiative to own a city recycling trailer. Some have gone beyond just trailers. Cape Girardeau, Perryville and Jackson have their own processing plants. And the Stoddard County Sheltered Workshop provides trailers for small towns and services any local community that needs a place to process its recyclables.

Sikeston remains one of the few communities, and perhaps the only larger town, in the Bootheel area that lacks a 24/7 drop-off site or processing facility, said Dukes.

The compost site in Sikeston has serviced the community for years and has been very successful said Jiggs Moore, Sikeston Parks and Recreations director. However, the recycling program has never taken off.

"We have a contract with Sonny's Solid Waste. They provide recycling opportunities for the community, not the city," said Jiggs Moore.

As part of the contract, Sonny's must offer an opportunity for citizens to recycle. To fulfill this obligation, Sonny's has a drop-off period from 12-5 p.m. Wednesdays, in which they recycle only newsprint, some plastics and aluminum cans.

"It is part of our contract that we recycle, but it is not feasible right now to offer longer drop-off times or provide for more items to be recycled," said Theresa Marshall, assistant office manager at Sonny's.

Sonny's receives no grant money and receives no payment for the recycled material, except for a small amount for the aluminum cans. However, Sonny's must continue the project, despite the lack of incentives, to fulfill its contract with the city.

"We have not seen much support from local residents in the six years we have offered the program," said Marshall.

This is no surprise to many citizens. Offering only a five-hour drop off period in the middle of the workday makes it difficult for many to recycle. And with the limited emphasis put on the program, many citizens forget the program exists.

Shirley Kelly of Sikeston was unaware Sikeston still had a recycling program.

"I would probably get involved if it was more handy," said Kelly. "We were just in a small Illinois town of 1,100 people and they had a big recycling program. I am really surprised a town like Sikeston doesn't have something for recycling."

However, Moore said the city depends on Sonny's to provide a recycling program.

"We are hesitant to offer permanent city trailers due to the price tag and for fear of vandalism or disposal of improper items," said Moore. "If we had these sites, they would have to be manned. We do not have the manpower for that."

However, Dexter has seen no big problems with their unmanned trailers according to Jeff Myers, current head of the Dexter Street Department.

"It is not that big a problem and not at all costly," said Myers. "Sometimes, we have people throw rubbish away, but Stoddard County Sheltered Workshop separates that themselves. It is just a little aggravating for the guy that dumps them."

Dukes, who works with cities in the six-county area covered by the BRPC, has also not seen any negative side effects of the trailers. "We have no problems with trailers. Most all the people that recycle are conscientious and stay within the proper guidelines," said Dukes. "We have seen nothing but success from city recycling programs."