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Kanawha recycling may go private by December

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority hopes to reach a formal agreement early next month with a private company to reopen the Slack Street Recycling Center along the Elk River in Charleston.

Rod Watkins, vice chairman of the Solid Waste Authority, said, "Four of five points still have to be resolved. By Dec. 4, we hope to have something ready for approval."

The authority plans to meet again at its Slack Street office at 10 a.m. Dec. 4 to look at the final version of the contract, which also will become available to the public.

After the SWA board finished a private executive session on Tuesday morning, Watkins spoke favorably of the board's discussions with George Hunyadi from West Virginia Recycling Services, a private company based in Columbus, Ohio, that operates recycling facilities.

Chicago-based Draw Enterprises -- West Virginia Recycling's parent company -- owns and operates about 30 recycling centers in five states.

In March, the SWA voted to shut down the Slack Street Recycling Center because of safety concerns about the old building, built 104 years ago. The building was used to store and sort recyclable materials including plastics, metals, paper and glass.

The Slack Street center has operated on a limited basis since then, with many people delivering their own recyclables to the site. Cities that used the Slack Street site began taking their materials to recycling facilities in Beckley or Nitro.

In July, the Solid Waste Authority lost about $30,000. In August, the SWA took its last load of recyclable office paper under its contract with the state, after losing the contract.

Today, problems at the Slack Street facility include a deteriorating roof, parts of which have collapsed, and holes in its floors up to 40 feet deep.

Greg Sayer, a Solid Waste Authority board member, estimates it would cost $200,000 to replace the roof of the building that was once a powerhouse and water treatment facility.

Watkins said SWA members talked about several issues with Hunyadi, including his plans to purchase and lease equipment, his insurance policies and his staffing requirements.

"We would like it to be up and running by the end of December," Watkins said. "I think he can do that for $250,000."

Hunyadi said he has had problems this week in reaching contractors to work on the facility since many of them are out on hunting trips.

Watkins also said, "We need to be educating our community about the benefits of recycling."

The SWA has already been speaking with owners and groups associated with places like Laidley Tower, the Charleston Town Center mall and the Kanawha County school system.

Watkins believes Hunyadi's plans to reopen the Slack facility "is our best bet at this point. That does not preclude building a new building down the road. We thought about that, but could not make it work financially right now."

After the meeting, Hunyadi said, "We know what needs to be done. I hope we can get the roof fixed, concrete laid [to repair the floors] and electrical work done before winter really hits.

"If we have another couple of weeks like the last two, it will be great. This is like a baseball game. We are on third base, but have not scored yet. We are fine tuning things.

"We are interested in building the business. We also need to get local residents on board, so they feel like they want to do their part," Hunyadi said. "Recycling a thousand tons a month is our goal."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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