JOHN DAY - Accepting a Dec. 19 recommendation from the Public Works Committee, the John Day City Council gave a thumbs down to a $3,000 request from Prairie City Recycling toward the purchase of a new glass crusher.
At the Dec. 13 city council meeting, Sarlota Sperry from Prairie City Recycling told the council that the glass crusher was worn out and no glass had been recycled since August due to safety concerns.
Sperry informed council members that Prairie City had made a commitment of funds for a new crusher and she was also going to speak with the Town of Canyon City and the Grant County Court requesting funding from them as well.
At the Public Works Committee meeting, Councilor Don Caldwell said he felt the city should not donate to the project and that the county court should be the one the recycling center should approach.
Public Works Director Terry Eccles concurred.
"Most recycling centers are independent businesses and they sell their product because it has value," Eccles said.
Caldwell said that he was also not pleased with Sperry's response when asked if any grant funding has been pursued.
"All she said was they had spoken with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)," he said. "They need to pursue other grant avenues."
Councilor Jack Grubbs said he had a problem giving out taxpayer's money (the City of John Day), when the entire county uses the center.
In addition to the recycling center approaching the Grant County Court for a donation and pursuing more grant avenues, the Public Works Committee felt the request to the City should have been for a loan because the glass crusher will produce a marketable product.
At the Jan. 10 city council meeting, Mayor Bob Quinton expressed concern about how many John Day residents use the glass crusher.
Councilor Gene Officer said he is not against the project, he just has a concern about using taxpayer's money.
"There are many people who have a 'John Day' address that are not residents of the city per se," he said. "What Ms. Sperry is asking is for us to give tax money that comes from people living within the city limits."
City manager Peggy Carey said Sperry has obtained a $2,000 commitment from Canyon City and reportedly received $5,000 from the County Court.
Officer said he thought the recycling center should check into grant funding in addition to the money they will receive from Canyon City, Prairie City and possibly the county court.
"If they get a grant and still are a little short on funds, then they can come back and see us," he said. "I think this should be more of a county project."
Sperry is scheduled to appear at the Jan. 24 council meeting.
By Jill Mallory
Blue Mountain Eagle
PRAIRIE CITY - The Prairie City Recycling Center is the only total recycling business in Grant County. The center takes in aluminum, glass, plastic, cardboard, high-grade paper and newspapers.
Volunteers - 45 percent of which are residents of John Day - work at the receiving bay, said Sarolta Sperry, marketing representative of the center and long-time resident of Prairie City.
Recycled items are sold to collection sites throughout the state. Proceeds from the sales finance the center's operation, making it self-sustaining, but not profitable.
One of the cogs that make the wheels turn smoothly needs to be replaced. The old glass crusher sometimes works and at other times doesn't, and is unsafe to operate, said Sperry, who would like to see the center get an up-to-date glass crusher that is more efficient.
Besides the erratic workings of the old crusher, paper labels need to be soaked off before the machine can do its work.
"The new machine (can accept glass with labels)," Sperry said. "We anticipate there will be a lot more people recycling just for that reason."
The replacement crusher would cost $11,000, including shipping. It might create a part-time job for someone in the community.
Rising gas prices make shipping crushed glass prohibitive; so the center has come up with a number of ways to use the crushed glass. These include sandblasting, cement mixture, landscaping, weighted bags, vehicle traction, retaining wall blocks and septic tank drain fields.
The community can also support efforts to keep the center running efficiently by purchasing glass cheese boards made from recycled glass bottles. The boards are sold at the Gallery of Creative Arts in Prairie City (152 Front St.) and other locations inside and outside Grant County. Joy Mentgen, a local artist and potter, donates her time and effort to make the cheese boards. Proceeds will be used to pay the crusher operator.
In a quest to find financial resources to replace the crusher, Sperry asked nearby communities to help, a first in 14 years.
"I was delighted with the County Court because they got the picture that it benefits everyone in Grant County," Sperry said.
Sperry made her pitch for the new glass crusher to the County Court and to the city councils of John Day, Canyon City and Prairie City. Canyon City gave Sperry $2,000, and Prairie City, which also pays the center's electric bill and provides other maintenance, gave $1,000. The County Court approved $5,000 from its solid- waste fund.
The recycling center is at 131 N. McHaley St.