Neighborhood Recycling Volunteers

November 14, 2007 - Luncheon held for Neighborhood Recycling Volunteers in Union County

The Union County Neighborhood Recycling Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon was recently held at Union County Courthouse in Blairsville, Georgia. The event coincided with an announcement that the Union County Recycling program has received the Keep Georgia Beautiful 2 nd Place Award for Waste Reduction .

Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris welcomed everyone to the event. He personally thanked the individual volunteers as he presented their Certificates of Appreciation. Recycling volunteers also received gift cards, commemorative key chains, and a free lunch catered by Grinds and Glazes in Blairsivlle, Georgia.

Union County 's Neighborhood Recycling program is lucky to have such dedicated volunteers. Jud Magrin, Brian Smith, Robert Hezlitt, Diana Belton, Kay Bryant, Sophie Doeler, Robert Hale, Barbara Hale, Martin Cooper, Jim Fitzgerald, Ron Jones, Elizabeth Patton, Kayla Fowler, Judy Vaughn, Barbara Williams, Chris Summar, Susan Babcock, Marilyn Greiner, Dilla Nichols, I.T. Harkins, Johnny Horney, Jerry Smoot, Laverne Smoot, Bud Gaskins, Jim Miner, Ruthann Miner, Jan Stansell, Ray Burnett, Terry Frank, and Tony Bowlware do a great job week after week. Many thanks go to these volunteers and to Peggy Deyton and Ashley Brown for planning the luncheon.

Executive Director Leslie George, from North Georgia Resource Management Authority, talked about the success of Union County 's recycling program and congratulated everyone on their accomplishments. She added, "You volunteers are amazing. There wouldn't be a Neighborhood Recycle program without you. Union County has so many good people that are willing to give their time."

Cindy Reed from Keep Georgia Beautiful also spoke at the Appreciation Luncheon. She explained a little about the program and added, "I am available to talk to school and civic groups about recycling. We're out there all the time trying to educate people about ways to protect the environment."

After lunch and presentations, Commissioner Paris, Leslie George, and Cindy Reed answered questions. Is anything being done to recycle at the schools? Yes - a pilot program is starting up at Union County Elementary School . If young children are trained to recycle, it will be second nature to them as they grow up. Recycling at middle and high school levels will depend on success of this pilot program.

Are we ever going to accept cardboard at the Neighborhood Recycling Centers? It is possible that corrugated cardboard will be accepted at the neighborhood centers sometime soon. Cardboard is a commodity and prices rise and fall continuously. At times it is cost effective to recycle cardboard and at other times it's not. The cost of hauling cardboard doesn't make it worthwhile when prices are low.

What about glass? The buyer for recycled glass is located below Atlanta and hauling costs are significant. Considering the fact that glass is a renewable resource, the county will probably not be accepting it for recycling anytime in the near future. Paris patted the wallet in his back pocket as he said, "We have to evaluate everything we do. I'm not going to ask the taxpayers to pay for anything that's not cost effective."

Recycling locations include Jones Creek, Owltown, Ivy Log, Suches, Pat Colwell, Gumlog, Coosa , and Choestoe precinct stations. The neighborhood recycling drop-off sites are open every Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon . They accept mixed paper, magazines, thin paperback books, cereal boxes, and soft drink boxes. If you can tear it, they can take it. Aluminum cans and #1 and #2 plastics are also accepted.

Union County also provides for recycling at the Transfer Station located on Deep South Farm Road in Blairsville, Georgia. In addition to paper, aluminum, and plastics, the Transfer Station accepts automobile batteries, telephone books, and corrugated cardboard (corrugated cardboard must be broken down).

Keep Georgia Beautiful's State Awards Program honors individuals, organizations, and companies whose ongoing efforts prevent litter, improve community waste handling practices through recycling and waste reduction, and preserve natural beauty and environment of Georgia .

The North Georgia Resource Management Authority exists for the purpose of promoting safe solid waste handling through education, recycling, and composting.

Recycle bins in Suches, Georgia

Recycling Up by 50% in Union County

The Union County Neighborhood Recycling Program is a definite success. Every Wednesday morning people bring papers, aluminum cans, and plastics to fill the bins at eight local fire stations and voting precinct buildings. Volunteers are ready and waiting to help collect the materials for recycling.

Since the program began in Union County, there has been a substantial increase in collection of recycled materials. An increase of 50% in one year is proof that Union County citizens are willing to recycle when convenient bins are available.

Other agencies and environmental organizations are taking notice. The Department of Community Affairs is planning on using the Union County Neighborhood Recycling Program as a model in other towns. Elizabeth Patton, Union County Neighborhood Recycling Program Coordinator, is scheduled to speak at an upcoming environmental seminar next month at Brasstown Valley Resort.

"There wouldn't be a recycle program without the dedicated volunteers," says Elizabeth Patton. "They show up for work rain or shine, even in the snow. And of course the people that bring in bags of paper, cans, and plastic make the program a success."

Recycle volunteers Jud Magren, Brian Smith, Robert Hezlitt, Diana Belton, Sophie Doeler, Larry Johnson, Robert and Barb Hale, Martin Cooper, Jim Fitzgerald, Ron Jones, Kayla Fowler, Helen Davis, Susan Babcock, Marilyn Greiner, I.T. Harkins, Johnny Horney, Gerry and Laverne Smoot, Bud Gaskins, Jim and Ruthann Minor, Jan Stansill, Ray Burnett, Terry Franks, and Elizabeth Patton make the Neighborhood Recycling Program possible.

County Employee Johnny Holbrooks is also instrumental to the program. Holbrooks collects the recycled materials, dumps the bins, and leaves them ready for the next week.

Many Union County citizens visit the recycle locations every week. They bring their recycle materials, visit with the volunteers, and run into old friends and neighbors. At the Coosa location, even dogs look forward to Wednesday. When Elizabeth Patton is on duty, they get a tasty treat. "It doesn't cost much. I keep a box of dog biscuits on hand for the pets." says Patton.

The neighborhood recycling drop-off sites are open on Wednesdays from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon . They accept mixed paper, aluminum cans, and plastics. Paper, including newsprint, junk mail, magazines, and thin paperback books, should be unbundled and removed from plastic bags. Aluminum cans should be rinsed and flattened. Plastic items labeled #1 or #2 are accepted. Examples include soft drink bottles, peanut butter jars, cooking oil bottles, milk jugs, detergent bottles, bleach bottles, and plastic juice bottles. All lids should be removed and the containers rinsed.

Recycling locations include Jones Creek, Owltown, Ivy Log, Suches, Pat Colwell, Gumlog, Coosa , and Choestoe precincts. Union County also provides for recycling at the Transfer Station located on Deep South Farm Road . In addition to paper, aluminum, and plastics, the Transfer Station accepts glass and cardboard. The glass must be clear, brown, or green and sorted into separate colors. Cardboard must be broken down.

Thanks to everyone that participates in the Neighborhood Recycling Program for helping Union County increase its collection of recyclable materials.