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Berkeley Co. increases recycling, hours

July 07, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Residents in south Berkeley County this year are on pace to increase their participation in the county's drop-off recycling program by more than a third over 2005.

And for that, they will be rewarded.

Beginning Aug. 1, the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority's recycling center off West Pilgrim Street near Inwood, W.Va., will be open six days a week (except Sunday) to accept everything from newspaper, bottles and cans to scrap metal, appliances and yard waste.

"It's another indicator - if we build it, they will come," authority board Chairman Clint R. Hogbin said of a projected 36 percent increase at the South Berkeley center for 2006.

On Thursday, Hogbin received unanimous backing from the Berkeley County Commission to expand the recycling center's days of operation to match the Grapevine Road location near Martinsburg. With the change, the only difference in services offered between the two drop-off locations will be a pilot program at the Grapevine Road center to accept "window" model air conditioners at no charge, Hogbin announced Thursday.

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In January, county leaders agreed to budget money for a fifth day of operation in South Berkeley. Grant money not spent by the Solid Waste Authority now will be used to pay for the cost of operating the center for a sixth day in the current fiscal year, Hogbin said.

After the meeting, Hogbin said he presented the expansion plan to the commission to make sure they were on board with supporting the expanded hours of operation in the 2007-08 fiscal year. The projected cost for the sixth day of operation in South Berkeley is $5,233. About 95 percent of the money is for the recycling center attendant's salary, Hogbin said.

"A year from now, we don't want to go back to five days," Hogbin said.

Participation in the recycling program at the South Berkeley drop-off location has increased as the authority was able to accept more types of materials and accept them on more days each week, Hogbin said. The projected growth in recycling is based on the 8,350 vehicles that automatically were counted arriving at the center through the first six months of the year.

Countywide, participation in the authority's recycling program is projected to increase by 22 percent, Hogbin told commissioners Thursday.

Though also projected to be visited more this year than last, increases at the authority's drop-off centers in Marlowe, W.Va., and Hedgesville, W.Va., lag behind the other locations.

"The participation at Marlowe basically has been flat for four years," said Hogbin, who noted the South Berkeley location was in a similar situation until services substantially were expanded there three years ago.

"What we've found is that if we build a small recycling center with a limited number of hours of operation ... we get a limited response," Hogbin said.

Commissioner Howard L. Strauss took the opportunity to publicly invite a property owner in the Hedgesville area to support the recycling program by donating a larger tract of land for a larger drop-off site.

Aside from South Berkeley's growth, Hogbin also noted in his presentation that two "e-cycling" events held to accept electronics in May and June resulted in the collection of more than 57,800 pounds of unwanted equipment.

"I've got a bunch of computer equipment over there (in the Crawford building) if it doesn't sell on (July) 15th," Commissioner Ronald K. Collins said of the county's upcoming surplus sale.

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