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2015-12-03

LCRA & BEC award $15K to recycling efforts

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Courtesy photo
Big checks are always the best, according to, from left, BEC's Lee Kneupper and LCRA's Lori Berger, Commissioners Bobby Harris and Bob Grimes, Judge Richard Evans, Commissioner Andy Wilkerson, BEC General Manager Bill Hetherington, Commissioner Jordan "Jody" Rutherford and Rachel Hering, executive director of Cooperative Teamwork & Recycling Assistance. The grant from LCRA and BEC will be used to jumpstart Bandera County recycling efforts.



Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bandera Electric Cooperative, the New Year will bring improvement and expansion to Bandera County's recycling program.
Bandera County Com-missioners plan to use a portion of the grant to purchase a second vertical baler for the recycling processing center at the Bandera Solid Waste Disposal Station, located at 3028 Highway 16 North, next to Mansfield Park.
The large machine compacts cardboard, plastic and paper into bales of recyclable materials that can be easily stacked and transported - saving the county both time and money. According to Rachel Hering, executive director of Cooperative Teamwork & Recycling Assistance, recycling companies pay more for compacted materials.
With the grant firmly in the county's hand, she advocated that the county begin negotiations to acquire a used baler at a cost of $5,000 to $8,000. Previously, three vendors had expressed interest in supplying the county with a baler. Hering indicated the purchase of the baler would take place between now and February.
Remaining funds will be used to frame a three-sided metal structure to protect the baler from the elements. The building will also serve to keep dry accumulated recycled cardboard and paper, as well as plastics - all important marketable commodities.
During a previous meeting, County Judge Richard Evans advocated placing the second baler at the Bandera collection station, which is under the direction of Precinct 4 Commissioner Jordan "Jody" Rutherford. Rutherford served as prime mover behind the recent reconstitution of the county's recycling program.
The Bandera location, Evans noted, would serve as a second recycling hub in the county and be of increased benefit to more residents than installing a second baler in Lakehills.
According to Evans, the county has struggled to develop and maintain its recycling program. "For years, the recycling program has been a burden to taxpayers, with them having to subsidize it," he said. "But not anymore, hopefully."
A second baler would undoubtedly make the county's recycling program more efficient and self-sufficient. Expanding the local recycling program would also generate increased revenue for the county. Bandera County's recycling program is growing rapidly. The county saw a 136 percent increase in the amount of recyclables it processed between 2013 and 2014.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris has long supervised a robust recycling effort at the Lakehills Solid Waste Station at 151 Ohio Avenue, site of the county's original baler. "This year recycling tonnage will top that collected in 2014," he predicted.
"We really appreciate LCRA's help on many projects in Bandera County and the long-term commitment LCRA has made to rural communities like ours," Evans said.
The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA's Community Development Partnership Program.
The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA's electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA's effort to give back to the communities it serves.
As one of LCRA's wholesale electric customers, the Bandera Electric Cooperative is a partner in the grant program. The cooperative donated an additional $1,500 to supply electricity to the new baler at the Bandera station.
As BEC General Manager Bill Hetherington noted, "We are happy to provide assistance through our wholesale provider, LCRA. I'm very excited about this program. It's very good for the community. I plan to take advantage of it myself. And it's always nice to receive a check."
"The bigger the check, the better we like it," Evans rejoined.
Meanwhile Rutherford made a plea for volunteers to assist with the nascent recycling program. "We need volunteers to keep recycling going," he said. For information on how to help, refer to the public service announcement on page 8A.