Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 29, 1999

No decision yet on McLeod HHW building

By Gail Lipe

The main purpose of the workshop held at the new household hazardous waste facility (HHW) was to inform the McLeod County Board of Commissioners what has been done, and what needs to be accomplished, for Phase I of the management plan for the facility.

Ed Homan, McLeod County solid waste director, Bob Craggs, solid waste consultant with RW Beck, and Mark Hallan, engineer with Widseth, Smith and Nolting, were looking for direction from the commissioners to finalize the design for the HHW, Phase I, and proceed with bids and construction.

The objective is to finalize the design by the first part of January and put together a bid package. Once a bid is accepted, it would take two to three months to finish the construction.

Board chairman Sheldon Nies stressed the workshop was an information-gathering session. The discussion would be taken to the county board meeting on Dec. 2 for final decision.

Homan began the presentation by addressing the need for the new HHW. He said McLeod County has an 11 percent participation rate, which is well above the 5.5 percent state average.

"That demonstrates a willingness to participate and keep the material out of the landfill," said Homan.

The new facility expands the space from 1,800 square feet to 5,000 square feet, which increases the capacity for receiving additional household wastes.

According to Homan, it also will add collection of small business waste, daily collection of fluorescent bulbs, collection of car batteries, motor oil and oil filters, which also provides better service to the residents of McLeod County.

The plan is for the facility to be open five days a week, an increase from the current three days.

Besides the purchase of the building, an environmental assessment has been done, RW Beck was contracted in September to work on the plan, and the applications have been sent in to the environmental protection agency. Homan said a safety and health plan is in place at the old facility and will need some modifications for the new facility.

Things that still need to be addressed include HHW contracts with small businesses, the requirements for flammable storage, parking, partitions in the HHW and between the HHW and materials recovery facility (MRF), the equipment needs for the HHW, signing the facility, the secondary curbing inside the HHW, the construction process and then the decontamination process of the old facility.

Next, Homan said, is the need for the MRF, Phase II of the management plan. Currently there is curbside recycling in all municipalities and several townships. The goal is for all 14 townships to be part of the curbside recycling, he said.

The new MRF will add cardboard and magazines to the recycling in the county, he said, and it would provide an outlet for residents to recycle more and provide an outlet for the solid waste recyclers.

He said he was approached by the solid waste haulers in the county, and they said they would like a facility to bring recyclables to in McLeod County.

"It is cheaper for the haulers to go to a county MRF," said Craggs. "They have to pay quite a bit elsewhere."

An observer in the audience asked if the haulers would be charged a tip fee for bringing recyclables to the MRF.

Nies responded that there would be some charge to the haulers, but it has not been worked out yet.

Kevin Kubasch, of Kubasch Sanitation, was asked how much he pays on the average to dump recyclables.

He said it depends on what the market is and what the materials are. "It is a moving target." Right now he said he does not pay anything, but he has paid as much as $15 a ton to dump newsprint.

Kubasch also said it would be cheaper to haul to an MRF in McLeod County because the source separation trucks that do the curbside pickups could go directly to the MRF. That would save man-hours and equipment cost for the haulers because the trucks currently go back to Kubasch Sanitation, get unloaded into different trucks and then transported to other counties.

Homan also said the state mandates that 35 percent of solid waste is recycled in outstate counties. Currently McLeod County is at 36 percent. "We can improve it," said Homan.

He said the MRF would help to "close the loop" on reduce, reuse and recycle.

So far, an MRF assessment has been done, a cost analysis was done in August, the haulers are committed to use the facility, commissioners have visited other MRFs and a permit application has been submitted.

The service area will be McLeod County to begin with and the materials will need to continue to be source separated.

What processing that will be done at the MRF needs to be determined, as well as the materials to be collected.

The objective is to finish the HHW as soon as possible, and then move to working on the MRF.

Craggs went over the preliminary cost analysis again. The HHW remodeling will cost approximately $95,000. The MRF will cost approximately $355,000.

The total remodeling for the HHW/MRF will be approximately $450,000, which does not include the engineering cost.

Craggs said the previous plan of building a new HHW, with the help of an office of environmental assessment grant, would cost just over $400,000. Adding a new MRF would cost approximately $1.5 million.

Doing both in the new HHW facility, including the cost of the building, will be approximately $1.2 million.

After the presentation, Nies opened it up for questions from anyone present.

Someone asked how the ventilation system would be set up, and if someone in the offices got sick from leakage from the HHW, who would be liable?

Craggs said there is separate ventilation existing for the HHW area, the MRF area and the offices. He said a special system will be set up for the bulking area in the HHW to handle its specific needs.

"Our job is to take every precaution to prevent fumes from leaking," said Nies. He said the liability would be determined by the attorneys.

Ben Hafner, Glencoe, asked if purchasing the building was referred to the solid waste advisory committee (SWAC) or the long-range planning committee before it was purchased.

Nies said it was not. It was brought up at a board meeting, and there was public information about the discussion. It was presented to SWAC in August after the purchase agreement was submitted.

Bob Hartelt, Glencoe, asked if the money that was used from the solid waste abatement fund to build the old HHW facility would be returned to the abatement fund after the HHW is moved to the new facility.

Nies said that would be worked out through the attorney, but if the building is sold, the money could not be put into the general fund and used for something else.

Hafner also asked if the board of commissioners should get an opinion from the state attorney general's office on whether the purchase of the building falls into the guidelines of using the solid waste abatement funds.

Nies said McLeod County Attorney Mike Junge said it was a proper purpose for the money. He said the attorney general's office is an opinion of another attorney and often you get an attorney just out of college. Junge is an experienced attorney.

Nies brought the workshop back to the issue of proceeding with the HHW plan. He asked the commissioners if they had any input on the design.

There was discussion of the flammable storage being inside a special area in the HHW.

Nies reiterated it would be brought to the board on Dec. 2.

The last issue discussed was the occupancy of the offices in the front of the building. There were representatives from McLeod County public health nursing, social services and McLeod Treatment Programs (MTP).

Becky Felling, public health nursing, said what they really need is an office space with a telephone for confidential work. She said they also need a space for the immunization clinics.

Gary Sprynczynatyk, social services director, indicated he is not interested in moving staff to Hutchinson. He said he would like an office space for confidential meetings and the use of conference rooms in the evening.

"We do not have a satellite office at this time," Sprynczynatyk said. "We were less priority in the extension office. We have access to a restroom there."

Jill Hewitt, director of MTP, said they have been looking to move their main office and visitation exchange center (VEC) and would like space in the building.

MTP is a nonprofit agency, formed in 1975 to serve kids in McLeod County. It operates on a $2.3 million budget with 44 full-time and 22 part-time employees.

"If we can get away from the large rent payments, it would help," said Hewitt.

There was discussion about probation indicating a desire for two small offices and the possibility of the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf needing more space in Hutchinson.

Nies said the cost of remodeling for MTP would be paid for by the organization.

The new animal shelter, The Heart of Minnesota Animal Shelter, had representatives at the meeting to request space.

Dr. Virgil Voight, owner of Crow River Veterinary Clinic, addressed the commissioners asking if the shelter could lease the old building after the HHW is moved. He said the organization formed last February and is operating with a $5,000 checkbook balance already.

The animals are currently being processed through a foster care program and the organization is totally volunteer. It has processed 30 animals since August and has 12 in foster care.

Nies said the discussion was the feasibility of tenants. He said the priority is to maintain the integrity of what the building was purchased for. The contracts for the tenants will be written to include if the HHW/MRF needs the space, the tenant will move out.

"No decisions have been made on any of these tenants," said Nies. "And no prior arrangements have been made, to my knowledge."

He said there is homework for the commissioners to do. There are legal issues to look at regarding what organizations can be in the same building as a HHW/MRF. They need to look at whether there is adequate space and what requirements each organization needs.

The transitions committee will continue its process, and the issues regarding the new HHW facility will be on the agenda at the Dec. 2 board meeting.

Back to Current Stories Menu | Back to Archives List

Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal
Stories | Columns | Classifieds | Obituaries
Community Guides | Special Topics | Cool Stuff | Shopping | SEARCH | Home Page