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Recycling Efforts in Rural Colorado

 

Recycle Bag

 

The more trash you recycle, the less goes into your landfill, your water and your planet. A mix of state and local representatives gathered at the Lamar Public Works offices on North Second Street, Wednesday, August 14th, for a brief update on landfill status in Prowers County and the City of Lamar and what is currently being done in terms of recycling and what could be achieved through concerted effort.

There’s plenty of open space in southeast Colorado and local officials are fearful that space will be used as an open trash pit the more stringent regulations become for community landfills in this region. Holly and Granada have been seeking ways in which they could either expand or maintain their landfills without raising fees for residents or being fined sums of money for landfills that exceed state or federal limits on groundwater impact from the trash being stored in their communities.  Both towns are working on deadline extensions while they explorer their most affordable and beneficial options. Holly’s landfill lifespan was drastically impacted following its 2007 tornado when almost all the debris during the aftermath went into the landfill.

Lamar’s landfill is in fairly good shape, but its lifespan could be shortened if it were to accept the trash from neighboring communities that can no longer afford to maintain their own. Even if those landfills eventually close and no longer require upkeep beyond periodic maintenance, there’s still the cost of handling and transporting all the trash to Lamar.  And Lamar is treated and charged by the state as a large landfill even though the population is rural.

Angie Cue, Lamar’s Main Street Coordinator, Pat Mason, Lamar Public Works Director, Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner and Prowers County Commission Chairman, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, presented a local status report for the visiting group who represented Colorado Counties Incorporated, the Colorado Legislative Council, a fact-find group which advises on new legislation and various state representatives. Aside from each landfill status, the local representatives explained the Plastic and E-Waste Program in Lamar, initiated by Lamar Partnership Incorporated, under the direction of Cue.

“Perhaps 10% of the Lamar population does any noticeable recycling,” she explained, adding that it is hard to determine just how many people take advantage of the twice a month open period to drop off electronic waste items such as old or broken printers, tv sets, video screens, computers or various pieces of audio or visual hardware. “We do see some people coming back from time to time, and we are busy through the month accumulating the trash items which are transported for recycling at a Las Animas site.”  Users must purchase a special trash bag for $3, designed to contain the recyclables and are then charged by the weight of their deposit for the trip out of county.  Volunteers man the station at North Second Street from 10am to 1pm the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

Public Works Director, Pat Mason, explained there are four sites in Lamar which accept recyclable refuse, separated into containers for cardboard, paper, glass and plastic products. The four public locations are at North Second Street, the east side of the Safeway parking lot, the northwest corner of Farmer’s Market on South Sixth Street and the southeastern corner of the baseball fields opposite Lamar Community College.  Materials from these sites are collected and sent to Las Animas as well.  Local grocery stores each offer a large indoor container for shoppers who recycle their plastic grocery bags.

Another trash problem is dead tires.  Burning them pollutes the air, they don’t decompose, standing water breeds mosquitoes and if they are recycled in any way, steel belted radials have to be stripped of their metals before they can be chopped or shredded.  Mayor Roger Stagner said he, like other auto dealership owners have a buy-back policy, but some people either just drop them off after hours or dump them somewhere down a county road.

A growing concern for Prowers County has been illegal dumping of trash on public or private lands. Instead of paying a landfill user’s fee, some people are content enough to haul a used stove, tire or fridge and heave them out on someone else’s land.  Last year the commissioners discussed their concerns about such sites that had become a magnet for other dumpers.

The general agreement by the group called for additional research for a long-term solution as well as an recycling awareness campaign which would heighten the public’s knowledge of their options and the environment benefits for local lands and lifestyles. The group toured the Lamar and Granada landfills on Wednesday and spent the next day on similar tours of surrounding communities.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesEconomyEnvironmentFeaturedHealthPublic SafetyUtilities

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