After going through a slow period for a while, Jefferson County’s recycling programs are moving forward again, and more is on the way, including a new location.
Daniel Marks, the administrative assistant to Jefferson County Judge Dutch King, said the county is planning to rehabilitate the building it owns at 1800 E. Harding Ave., behind Pope Furniture Co., as a recycling center.
“The structure is in great shape,” Marks said. “We’re looking at adding roll-up doors so that people can just drive in and we can unload their cars for them.”
Marks said the county plans to work with the Arkansas Department of Correction to strip the existing tin off the building, then accept bids on restoring the building, a process he said probably will take a couple of months.
“We hope to have it up and running by late August or early September,” Marks said.
When the building is opened, Marks said members of the sheriff’s department Clean Team, who are currently working at the recycling center at the county landfill, will move to the new site.
“That will cut down on the expense the sheriff’s department has transporting the people out there and back,” Marks said.
The idea of using members of the Clean Team to sort out material came after the Jefferson County Quorum Court approved an agreement between the sheriff’s department and the state highway department that calls for the Clean Team to mow the grassy areas along the Martha Mitchell Expressway this year.
“A light bulb kind of came on after that agreement because we needed manpower for the recycling department and this would help the sheriff’s department revenue,” Marks said.
Chief Deputy Sheriff and Jail Administrator Greg Bolin said the department was looking for a way to use female members of the Clean Team and the prospect of having them work on recycling came at the right time.
“That is something they can do year-round,” Bolin said recently.
The agreement between the sheriff’s department and county recycling calls for the sheriff’s department to be paid $2,000 a month, plus a percentage of the profits from the sale of the recycled material.
Marks said the county is now accepting plastic products such as soft drink and milk containers for recycling, and a bin has been set up at the county road department on West 7th Avenue for that purpose.
In addition, the county is now picking up the plastic products that have been dropped off at the city recycling center across from Taylor Field.
Later this year, the county plans to add another vehicle to the fleet to pick up recyclable materials from local businesses at no cost.
“We’ve got to crawl before we can walk but we hope to be able to do that by the first of July,” Marks said.
The county also plans to work with school districts and be able to pick up their waster paper and cardboard.
“The school districts face financial woes and this will be a way to benefit them,” he said.
Also in the works is an agreement with the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District that would make the county the hub for electronic waste disposal for the northern half of the district, and a second drop-off point for recycled material once the building on East Harding Avenue is open. That site would be across from the county road department and could be opened next year.
Marks said he is hoping that satellite drop-off points such as in Redfield can be set up so that residents in other cities can drop off their recyclable items on a regular basis, such as once a month.