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Kanawha plans task force to rescue recycling

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy has asked the Charleston Area Alliance to work with county officials on a plan to save the county's troubled recycling program.

Hardy said six to nine people will make up a task force to study the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority's financial picture and come up with an affordable way to continue recycling in the county.

"We're going to focus on the issue and come up with a workable solution," Hardy said Monday. "We're going to try to get it done in 45 days."

In March, the Solid Waste Authority's governing board voted to shut down the Slack Street Recycling Center, in Charleston, because of safety issues with the building where materials were sorted and baled. Repair estimates for the 100-year-old facility came to an estimated $1.5 million.

The solid waste board still doesn't know how much it would cost to tear down the building and build a new facility, but either option is well above the means of the Solid Waste Authority.

Solid waste officials have since reopened Slack Street as a drop-off point with reduced hours and taking fewer materials. But the inability to sort and bale larger amounts of material has crippled the program's revenue stream. Solid waste officials have already laid off half of the staff at the center.

Hardy said the task force will try to figure out how much it would cost to build a new recycling facility and how to finance it.

"The building has obviously outlived its usefulness," he said. "This is long overdue."

Hardy said members of the Alliance will lend their business expertise to the search for a solution, and the county will chip in with help from the Planning Department. The county's grant-writing team will help apply for grants to supplement funding for the ultimate plan.

"We're good at grant applications, and we are very successful at it," he said.

Matt Ballard, executive director of the Charleston Area Alliance, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Kay Summers, chairwoman of the Solid Waste Authority board, was happy to hear about the task force. "That's exciting," she said. "I appreciate all the help we can get as long as it's positive."

Hardy said all the members of the task force have not yet been picked.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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