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City sees need for recycling education

Brookhaven aldermen are counting on education efforts to help push the city’s recycling program past some mild growing pains.

At Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting, David Phillips of Ward Six shared some concerns by Waste Pro about the recurring appearance of plastic bags in the city’s curbside recycling program.

Plastic bags – the kind used by grocery stores as well as household garbage bags – aren’t accepted by the recycler used by Waste Pro.

This means recycling materials should be directly placed into the receptacles rather than bagged.

“They want it loose,” Phillips said.

Right now, aldermen noted, many residents are bagging recyclable materials into garbage bags or other plastic bags and placing those bags into the blue, Waste Pro recycling receptacles.

Waste Pro transports the recyclable materials it picks up to a center in Sumrall, which doesn’t want the additional labor of opening and disposing of plastic bags.

Phillips and fellow recycling committee members Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes and Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates emphasized the importance of educating citizens to ensure the success of recycling.

“We need to be in the schools more than we are now,” Phillips said.

Phillips also told aldermen one of two drop-off recycling bins in the city has been removed. The container at Central Fire Station on Brookhaven Street has been taken out of commission, while Fire Station No. 2 on Willard Street still has one.

“It had been turned into a dump,” Phillips said of the Central Fire Station recycling bin.

Bags of household garbage and deer parts had been thrown into the recycling bin at that station, said Fire Chief Tony Weeks.

With the removal of the bin, a “no dumping” sign has been erected at the Fire Station.

Residents have noted the absence of the Central Fire Station bin, with aldermen reporting many phone calls asking about it.

Aldermen seemed to regret the move, but described it as necessary.

“Once people start trashing an area, it’s hard to get it under control,” Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes said.

Phillips remains optimistic about the remaining bin.

“We feel like we can police it a little better,” Phillips said of the Willard Street station.

In other business, city leaders accepted the resignation of city prosecutor Brad Boerner effective Friday and appointed local attorney Joseph Durr in his place.

The motion to accept his resignation was made following an executive session city attorney Joe Fernald said was to discuss what he called a conflict of interest.

City officials did not further elaborate on the circumstances of Boerner’s resignation. He was not present during Tuesday’s meeting or the executive session.

City aldermen also voted, following Mayor Les Bumgarner’s recommendation, to enter into an agreement with Lincoln County to split the cost of repairing parts of Industrial Park Road.

Both county and city leaders have agreed to spend up to $25,000 each.

Lincoln County’s engineer Jeff Dungan has indicated to supervisors he’ll select the worst spots of the road and patch whatever can be patched for $50,000.

Bumgarner said the city’s $25,000 can come out of the general budget. If the money isn’t available in the general budget, he suggested taking it out of the paving budget.

The latter suggestion would reduce the amount of money available for paving expenses in the individual wards.

The mayor thinks the city should take action because he doesn’t believe the road will become a priority for any individual alderman.

“There are no votes out there, so this isn’t something anyone is going to spend money on,” Bumgarner said.

The mayor and county officials have emphasized the importance of the road to local industry in Brookhaven, including the Delphi Packard plant, the Wal-Mart Distribution Center and McLane Southern.