Winamac May Partner with Pulaski County to Continue Recycling Pickup

The Town of Winamac is looking to team up with Pulaski County to continue offering recycling pickup. Town Manager Brad Zellers told the county commissioners Tuesday that he’s been discussing options with the manager of the county’s recycling and transfer station, Brad Bonnell.

“You’ve got some part-time employees that, my understanding, they’re willing to put some hours in, if they came, I guess, to work for the town for that time frame, to pick recycling up in town,” Zellers said. “You still have the recycle trailer that was utilized.”

Zellers explained that the employees would be on the town’s payroll while doing the work, and the town would cover the cost of fuel. He and Bonnell pointed out that the county would be able to get recycling bins free of charge through the Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District, since residents’ current bins will be collected by the town’s contractor.

Zellers figured that having two part-time employees pick up recycling on the town’s current schedule would cost the town less than $12,000 a year, while the fuel might be another $4,000. That’s significantly less than sticking with the current contractor, which would cost the town about $50,000. Zellers pointed out that would be a lot to spend, considering that relatively few items are actually being recycled. “We have a lot of issues with people just throwing garbage in those cans,” he explained, “and when they get that to their recycle area, they go to sort it out and it’s got too much garbage, so it goes to the landfill anyway.”

He felt workers from the recycling center would be more efficient at separating recyclables from garbage. “If there’s something that’s undesirable in the recycling, they can leave it,” Zellers said. “Those employees can make a note, and they can call the town office with that. I can go knock on their door, send a letter to those people, tell them they can’t do that. If they continue, we take their cans. Doing it this way would be a lot cleaner when Brad gets the stuff. He’s going to know what’s in there, and hopefully get a little revenue off of it throughout the year.”

There are still some issues that would have to be worked out, though. While the employees would be under the town’s workers compensation policy, the county might still have some liability, due to the use of its equipment.

No final decision was made, but the commissioners said they were in favor of putting an agreement together and setting up a trial period. “Personally, I am,” said Commissioner Mike McClure. “I think we need to think more green, more recycling all the time.

Commissioner Jerry Locke added, “If we can get through the legal issues, it’s a win-win.”

The commissioners asked that County Attorney Kevin Tankersley work on the agreement. But it’s unlikely it will be finalized before the town’s current recycling contract ends at the end of the month.