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Slack Street center to continue accepting recycling

The Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority will continue to accept recyclables at the Slack Street recycling center as the transition to a privately operated facility takes place.

The authority signed a lease turning the facility's operations over to West Virginia Recycling Services on Dec. 18. The agency stipulated that there would be a 30 to 45 day transition period before the company took over the operations, board member Rod Watkins said.

Members of the public will still be able to drop off recyclables in the bins set up near the Slack Street center while the transition is taking place, Watkins said during an emergency meeting on Friday.

"We're absolutely not closing the center," he said.

West Virginia Recycling Services plans to upgrade the Slack Street center to reopen the recycling operations.

The center has been closed since March when combustible dust and some structural issues were discovered.

The Solid Waste Authority continues to accept some recyclables at the public drop off site, which are then hauled to Beckley or Jackson County where they are processed by solid waste authorities there.

However, the Kanawha County agency has been hemorrhaging money ever since the center was closed because the items cannot be processed at and sold from the Slack Street site.

In December alone, the agency lost $30,000, Watkins said.

West Virginia Recycling Services will also continue to accept recyclables at the public drop off site despite the fact that it will initially not be able to process the materials on a large scale at the Slack Street building until some renovations are complete, said George Hunyadi, a partner with the company.

"From the public's standpoint, nothing is changing," Hunyadi said. 

The company will stockpile recyclables at the site temporarily while renovations are completed, Hunyadi said.

One renovation that needs to be completed before the company can begin selling recycled materials is the replacement of the scale, he said. That way the company can accurately weigh the amount of material being processed.

West Virginia Recycling Services will pay the Solid Waste Authority $5.50 for every ton of recycling processed at the center, according to the lease agreement. This fee is paid in lieu of a monthly rent payment.

Hunyadi hopes to have the new scale installed and the center up and running within two months.

The Solid Waste Authority will store the recyclables currently being brought to the center in large bins on site, Watkins said. The items will be stored in the bins at least until Tuesday when the agency again meets to discuss the takeover.

Solid Waste Authority board members do not wish to store any of the materials in the Slack Street building until they can talk to Hunyadi to see what he would like to do with the items, said Kay Summers, board chairwoman.

"We don't want to have anything in the way when they renovate the building," she said. 

Hunyadi also must finalize his staff for the center, he said. The agency currently has six employees on its payroll, Watkins said.

Three of those employees have submitted applications for employment with West Virginia Recycling Services, Watkins said. Hunyadi plans to meet with those employees sometime this week.

The Solid Waste Authority will also soon begin an official search for a new executive director. The executive director will handle public education and outreach and attempt to increase the tonnage of recycling processed at the center.

Current interim executive director Jeannie Gunter said she was not interested in taking the permanent position. She has served as interim executive director since Aug. 1. 

Hunyadi has indicated that he would like to give precedence to local workers, even when it comes to renovating the over 100-year-old structure.

Hunyadi has stated that he can get the building operational once more with an approximately $250,000 to $300,000 investment.

Watkins addressed this figure during Friday's meeting. He has heard the Solid Waste Authority be criticized about early statements made by the agency that it would take about $1.2 million to renovate the structure.

The $1.2 million was to completely renovate the structure. Hunyadi is planning on spending the $250,000 to get the building up to code and then will likely make more improvements as he begins to make a profit, Watkins said.

The Solid Waste Authority will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss more issues dealing with the transition. The meeting will be in the trailer next to the Slack Street recycling center.       

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.  


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