HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Blair County Solid Waste and Recycling Department was dissolved Tuesday by the county commissioners, who then agreed to turn over the department's programs to the Intermunicipal Relations Committee.
The vote means that the department's six employees will no longer have jobs with the county as of Monday. IRC Executive Director John Frederick of Altoona said some of the workers will be retained to operate a compost site off Route 36.
It also means that recycling bins placed at nine locations throughout the county will be removed during the next week.
Those bins have provided a place for individuals to bring their recyclable materials if there is no curbside collection available. Blair County's largest municipalities - Altoona, Logan Township, Hollidaysburg and Tyrone Borough - are mandated to provide recycling and compost options to residents.
Frederick said after Tuesday's meeting that local residents deposit 1,000 tons of recyclables annually in the nine bins across the county.
The most popular location is in the Plank Road Commons Shopping Center in Allegheny Township, where, Frederick said, about 250 tons of recyclable materials are deposited annually.
Commissioner Diane Meling announced that those bins would not be available next week. She asked people to not drop off their materials after the bins are removed, because there will be no one to collect the items.
Frederick said that one of his tasks in the near future will be to encourage municipalities to adopt curbside recycling ordinances where feasible.
He also said there still will be places for people to take their recyclables, including Cove Recycling in Roaring Spring, Burgmeier Hauling in Altoona and Paul Kane Disposal in Williamsburg.
Frederick said he doesn't think some local communities are enthused about starting their own recycling programs. He said he recently suggested that Frankstown Township begin a program, for example, but that the idea wasn't well received.
James Grove, the chairman of the Frankstown Board of Supervisors, said Tuesday afternoon he hadn't spoken to Frederick, but he said the township at one point had a collection bin at Geeseytown Fire Hall. He said people would not always hit the bin when they dropped off recyclables, making "a mess to clean up."
Meling said county government is not mandated by law to provide solid waste services, but the county has had a solid waste program for well over a decade, financed by a fee on each ton of waste that was placed in a landfill.
That tipping fee was found unconstitutional, and Meling said the money used to finance the county solid waste department gradually dried up.
The small amount remaining will be given to the IRC as seed money, she said.
Meling and Commissioner Ted Beam gave Frederick the go-ahead to execute a grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to help cover administrative costs for the program.
Solid Waste Department head Terry Stacey prepared the application. Meling thanked Stacey for his "professionalism" in view of the fact the county department is being dissolved.
She said this is the first time her board, which includes Beam and Commissioner Terry Tomassetti, has dissolved a department.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.