Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Council members talk trash

June 21, 2007

There was a lot of trash talk at Monday's Baldwin City Council meeting.

No, words weren't flying. It was actually information and action. The action was an approval to raise trash collection rates from $10.02 per household per month to $10.86, an increase of 9.4 percent. Ottawa Sanitation made the request because of increases it had in tipping fees recently. It's the first increase since 2003.

But, it wasn't just landfill trash. Tina Rakes, city zoning inspector, gave a report on the recent citywide cleanup. Also, discussion eventually turned to the recycling program that Ottawa Sanitation offers at the Midland Depot, which is paid for by part of the trash bill.

Rakes said the June 9 citywide cleanup netted the largest amount of trash yet and it didn't include figures from limited recycling efforts that were offered. Rakes said in 2005, the cleanup brought in 11.92 tons of trash, in 2006 it went up to 16.42 tons and this year's effort brought in 22.45 tons.

"I do not have the tonnage back on the recycling," said Rakes. "I think those numbers speak for themselves about how the people want this. We've had very positive feedback."

Following that report, the council voted 4-0 to adopt the trash rate increase. Ted Brecheisen Jr. was absent. Then, it was more recycling talk.

"Can you explain the recycling program?" asked Council Member Ken Wagner. "I think maybe the city hasn't gotten the word out on that like we should."

The recycling bin at the depot has slots for plastic, glass, newspaper, tin and aluminum cans, Polyethylene terephthalate (plastic category No. 1) and high density polyethylene (plastic category No. 2). Aluminum cans can also be recycled at the area through the Santa Fe Trail Historical Society's bin. The Ottawa Sanitation officials said education not only about what can be recycled, but how it needs to be cleaned up better would do as much good. Anything put in the recycling bins that aren't up to standards is thrown away.

Wagner wasn't the only council member to say they'd had questions about recycling.

"I've had a number of people ask me about it," said Mayor Gary Walbridge. "We need to advertise that better."

City Council Member Tony Brown, an avid recycler, has been posting on SpeakOut!, on the Signal's Web site at, about the matter.

"We need to be letting people know that we've got this available," said Brown.

The sanitation officials said usage of the recycling bins has gone up. It used to be picked up every two weeks, but now it's once a week or every 10 days. They were asked if increased recycling would decrease trash cost. They said, no, that recycling doesn't pay, it costs.

"I'd like to see us do something to raise awareness," said Wagner.

The trash increase was the only action of the evening. Council members gave updates on several items.

"I met with the tree board," said Brown. "They've planted 132 of those trees we gave money for. That's a significant number of trees that have been planted."

The tree board got 150 trees, which have been planted mostly along U.S. Highway 56 and the power plant. There are 13 left that have been spoken for and five died.

Brown also said he'd received an update from the Baldwin City Economic Development Committee which has created a Web site and is having a workshop Tuesday.

Wagner brought up the recent vandalism at the Women's Bridge, where someone spray painted grafetti on the historic bridge which is being restored at a cost of $1.2 million. The Kansas Department of Transportation is paying for 80 percent of the cost.

"The state of Kansas and the city have put a lot of money into that bridge," said Wagner. "My concern is we've got a new target coming there."

Earlier in the meeting, Monte Ezell, Baldwin City Recreation Commission director, brought the council up to date on summer programming. He said everything was going well, that there were 55 to 60 baseball and softball teams playing and that operations at the pool were the best yet.

"I think we're running the best summer program we've had in the 7-and-a-half years I've been here," said Ezell.

He also reminded the council about the commission's planned trip to Ireland which is being offered to Baldwin City residents. Deadline for signing up is in September.

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