What's wrong with this picture?

August 29, 2010
  • A Hagerstown resident who asked to remain anonymous sent in this photo taken July 22 at the overflowing Washington County recycling drop box at the Ames Shopping Center on Dual Highway.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.

We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes or consumer problems.

The problem: The Washington County recycling drop box at the Ames Shopping Center on Dual Highway is often full or overflowing.

Who could fix it: Washington County Solid Waste Department

What they say: Cliff Engle, who heads the county's solid waste department, said the county's recycling drop boxes are inspected routinely to determine when they need to be emptied, but the procedure is not an exact science.

"Oftentimes what happens is, between observations, the activity ... can increase and the boxes are filled quicker than we anticipate," he said.

Neither the county nor its collection contractor have the resources to empty every box every day, and doing so would reduce cost-efficiency because the contractor often would be picking up half-empty boxes, Engle said.


Abuse of the boxes to dispose of furniture and other nonrecyclables adds to the problem, filling the boxes quicker and contributing to the amount of material visible on the ground around the boxes, he said.

Engle said the situation at the Ames Shopping Center would be improved starting the first week in September, when the county plans to add a second drop box to that site. The box is being moved there from the site of the former Food Lion on Eastern Boulevard, whose owners asked to have it removed, Engle said.

In addition, the county is evaluating its entire drop-box program and is considering improvements such as switching to a single-stream collection system when its collection contract is rebid in 2011, Engle said. Because the paper and cardboard side of the drop boxes fills faster than the glass, metal and plastic side, removing the dividers and allowing all material to intermingle in the boxes might prevent them from filling up as fast, he said.

Baltimore Street building concerns addressed

Another reader-submitted problem addressed by the county recently was the condition of a county-owned building at 50 E. Baltimore St.

Warren McClung Jr. wrote in with a concern that the building had loose roof panels and a broken window. He was concerned that the roof panels and broken glass could fall on someone below.

The Herald-Mail contacted Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III about the problem Aug. 18 and the county corrected the problems that day, Kroboth said.

--Compiled by Heather Keels

o If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:

What's Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown MD 21740

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