ONEONTA – Karen Sullivan, retired county planning director, yesterday received the Lifetime Recycling Leadership Award from the state Association for Reduction, Reuse & Recycling.
Sullivan has long worked to make the county more environmentally friendly, said Pat Knuth, executive director of The Arc Otsego, which nominated her. Among other accomplishments, Sullivan initiated the county’s mattress-recycling program and helped launched the annual Hazardous Waste Collection, now more than 20 years old.
“Karen has worked with us tirelessly in starting our ReUse Center in 2017,” said Pat Knuth, Arc executive director. “To date, we have recycled and kept from the waste stream over 1.5 million pounds of usable material.”
Due to COVID-19, the award’s ceremony on Nov. 19 was virtual.
MIDDLEFIELD – Tonnage and volume are still being tallied, but the car count is in, and 920 vehicles lined up to drop off paint, e-waste, prescriptions – you name it – at Household Hazardous Waste Day Saturday, Sept 21, at the county government’s Meadows Office Complex.
That was up from 500 last year, almost double, county Planning Director Karen Sullivan is reporting.
The day before, Friday the 20th, in Unadilla, it was the same story: 162 vehicles,
double the year before she said.
Sullivan credited a number of factors, but focused again at the one word she’d shouted out from the middle of the parking lot in the midst of all Saturday’s activity: “Advertising!”
This year, the planning department placed a constant stream of advertising on this newspaper’s www.AllOTSEGO.com site, as well as its two sister newspapers, supplemented by radio, additional print advertising, and the “Otsego Co. Household Hazardous Waste Event” Facebook page.
“I think multi-media, the Facebook page, and all the different ways of communicating really made a difference,” Sullivan said.
Scheduling the drop-off day two weeks later – it’s usually the weekend after Labor Day – and a continuously heightened public awareness of recycling, may have been contributing factors, she added.
It was a beautiful day – but it was a beautiful day last year, Sullivan said.
Household battery collection was up. Thirteen barrels of paint, compared to nine the year before. “Lots of fluorescent bulbs,” said the planning director. “Everything exceeded what we had the year before.”
Saturday morning, it became obvious pretty early something different was happening.
By 9 a.m., traffic was backed up ¾ miles from the Meadows all the way north on Route 33 to Route 11C. Drivers reported waiting an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, even 90 minutes to access the free disposal service.
One driver called out, “That’s county efficiency for you.” But mostly there was a good-natured, celebratory atmosphere – the Woodstock of Trash, if you will – with participants embracing the idea they were experiencing something special.
“Usually by noon, there are one or two cars,” said Senior Planner Erik Scrivener, who was directing traffic into the Meadows parking lot. He cast a glance at a line of cars that extended until it went out of sight.
The event was supposed to end at 1 p.m., but Sullivan made the decision to stay on the job until all were served. The last vehicle came through at 2 p.m., she said.
“We were in line for over an hour,” said Edward Snyder of Cooperstown, there with wife Joan, having just handed off fluorescent bulbs and batteries at the e-waste drop-off, where TVs and computer monitors were stacked taller than the crew members – grown men – from Evolution Recycling of Gloversville.
“People are a little more educated on recycling,” said Evolution’s Mason Bruse, trying to explain the turnout. “New York State’s enforcing it a lot more.”
With recycling facing new challenges – the latest, what to do about e-waste; the county is considering charging – the public may be more eager to take advantage of whatever free services there are.
Sullivan credited a front-page headline in this newspaper last week, “Fee For E-Waste Possible,” with driving business at that drop-off point.
County Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, was lined up with everybody else, and declared cheerfully, “We broke the system.”
He and his county board colleagues, he said, will have to discuss what changes may be necessary – perhaps two Household Hazardous Waste Days a year instead of one.
This year, Sullivan said, there was only enough money budgeted to do one pick-up day, but she and her staff sit down every year for a post-mortem, to discuss how things might be done better, and that might be an issue raised.
Leslie Orzetti, executive director at the OCCA, which provided 20 volunteers – many, like Antoinette Kuzminski, Andree Conklin and Martha Clarvoe, have been doing it for years – said that instructing ways to avoid piling up hazardous wastes may help ease any crunch next year.
For instance, she pointed out, e-waste is accepted at Casella’s Southern Transfer Station in Oneonta, so far for free. (The county board is considering charging a fee.)
Plus, if a can of paint is less than half-full, homeowners can open it, let it dry and harden, then dispose of it in the regular trash.
MIDDLEFIELD – “A record,” Erik Scrivener, the senior county planner, called out as he directed drivers, some who had been lined up this morning for 90 minutes, to their final destination: the annual Hazardous Household Waste Day at the county’s Meadows Office Complex.
By 9 a.m., probably sooner, traffic was backed up ¾-miles out the access road leading to the Meadows (and county jail) and all the way north on Route 33 to Route 11C. Drivers reported waiting an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, even 90 minutes to access the free disposal service, staffed by volunteers and county staff. Everything from used paint, to e-waste, to leftover prescriptions was being processed.
Brian Wilcox, of Wilcox Construction Co., Norwich, top, examines the first two of 15 “tiny homes” behind the county’s Meadows Office Complex, Town of Middlefield. The small structures are a county Board of Representatives’ initiative to provide temporary housing for the county’s homeless. Inset, Senior County Planner Erik Scrivener examines the space in one of the structures where the bathroom will be located. The bathroom will be equipped with a fully functioning shower with either frameless shower doors or perhaps a shower curtain, as well as toilet and vanity. The bathroom will be made so that it is totally private for each resident so that they have their own privacy and can use the bathroom as and when they please. There will also be a small kitchen so residents can prepare food and make meals as and when they need to as well as having secure sleeping arrangements and space to place personal belongings.
The small homes are designed by Mike Steiger, Smsa Architectural Services, Cassville, and are being built by SUNY Delhi construction students at the Delaware County campus, then transported here. Under construction on site is a community center, and plans are to power the complex, to the degree possible, with geothermal and solar powers, according to County Planning Director Karen Sullivan. These tiny homes and the community developments are going to create a great sense of community for all and allow people to give back to their communities. Hopefully, the rest of the tiny homes will be constructed soon enough so that more people in need of a home can move in and turn over a new leaf. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – An online survey of 374 Otsego County people released today found twice as many say their home are in bad shape vs. “excellent” shape.
The survey, by the county Planning Department and Otsego Rural Housing Assistance, found 14 percent of respondents believe their homes are “excellent”; 27.6 percent ranked their homes as “poor” or “needs immediate attention.”
More than half of respondents (58 percent) rated their homes as “average.”