Solid Waste Authority announces pending layoffs
Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority board members announced that two or three agency employees likely will lose their jobs by the end of the week, although they could be brought back once the recycling center starts to rebound.
The authority employs six people at the Slack Street recycling center, board member Rod Watkins said.
The agency recently signed an agreement with West Virginia Recycling Services to allow the company to take over recycling center operations.
Positions will be offered to two of the six remaining agency employees, said George Hunyadi, a partner with the company.
Hunyadi said at an authority meeting Tuesday that later in the day he would hire a site manager and an employee to help manage recyclables brought to the center.
The authority will retain a business manager at the office, Watkins said. Another employee could be kept on the payroll to drive authority trucks that currently have county license plates, he said.
The final decision on retaining the truck driver has not been made yet, Watkins said.
The agency also is seeking an executive director to fill the position left vacant when Norm Steenstra resigned last August. Business Manager Jeannie Gunter has been acting as interim director since the summer.
"The other employees' positions will be terminated," Watkins said Tuesday. "We're not going to do it today, but it will be by the end of the week for sure."
Those employees still could end up working for West Virginia Recycling Services. Hunyadi said he will need to hire another four to six employees to operate the recycling center once the tonnage of materials brought to the facility begins to increase.
"We've lost some momentum," Hunyadi said. "We need to get that momentum back."
The authority was forced to close the recycling center in March after combustible dust was discovered in the building. Structural issues were also found.
The agency soon began to hemorrhage money because recyclables were still being accepted at the Slack Street center but were being transported to other Solid Waste Authorities in Beckley and Jackson County to be processed.
The authority was forced to terminate the majority of its workforce because recyclables could not be processed at the center due to the problems with the structure.
At one time, the authority employed 28 full- and part-time employees. A total of 16 of those employees were full time, Gunter said.
Authority board members and Hunyadi also discussed the transition from a public agency-operated center to one run by a private company.
Hunyadi announced he has ordered a new scale for the center but is unsure when it will arrive. He is also unsure when he will be able to renovate the building because of the weather.
He hopes to have the center open and operating within a few months, he said.
He will continue to accept recyclables at the public drop-off site next to the Slack Street recycling center while the transition is under way, he said.
The renovations to the building should not interfere with the public dropping off items in the recycling bins on a large lot next to the facility.
The hours of operation for public drop-off will remain the same, Hunyadi said. The bins can be accessed from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Hunyadi also would like eventually to switch to single-stream recycling at the public drop- off site. People would not have to sort their recyclables into different bins.
That usually increases the amount of material being recycled, Hunyadi said.
The recycling center also could begin accepting glass again soon, Hunyadi said. The authority was forced to stop accepting glass when the building was deemed unsafe for employees.
Authority staff members had operated a pulverizer in the building to crush the glass into fine particles. The particles then were given to people who wished to use it for decorative purposes.
The pulverizer could not be operated after the building was shut down.
Hunyadi is determining how many bins are needed for glass. He will likely stockpile the glass recyclables at the Slack Street center until he can find a use for the material, he said.
One possible use for the pulverized glass is to temporarily fill potholes in the recycling center parking lot and drop-off site.