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Some employees being let go from Kanawha recycling center

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- 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 Solid Waste 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 operations of the Slack Street recycling center.

West Virginia Recycling Services will offer positions to two of the six remaining agency employees, said George Hunyadi, a partner with the company.

Hunyadi announced by the end of the day Tuesday he would hire a site manager and an employee to help manage the recyclables brought to the center.

Hunyadi made the announcement during Tuesday's Solid Waste Authority meeting.

The Solid Waste Authority will retain a business manager at the office, Watkins said. Another employee could be kept on the payroll to drive Solid Waste 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. "We're not going to do it today (Tuesday), 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 Solid Waste 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 on Tuesday 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 exactly when it will arrive. He is also unsure when he will be able to renovate the building because of issues with 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 that are set up a large lot next to the facility.

The hours of operation for the public drop off will remain the same, Hunyadi said. The public drop off 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 said he would eventually like to switch to single stream recycling at the public drop off site. That would mean people would not have to sort their recyclables into different bins when dropping off items at the center.

Single stream recycling generally increases the amount of material being recycled, Hunyadi said.

The recycling center could also begin accepting glass once again in the very near future, Hunyadi said. The authority was forced to stop accepting glass at the recycling center when the building was deemed to be unsafe for employees.

Authority staff members had operated a glass pulverizer in the building to crush the glass into fine particles. The particles then were given away to people who wished to use it for decorative purposes.

The pulverizer was located in the building, and it could not be operated after the facility was closed.

Hunyadi is looking at how many bins he will need to set up at the center to accept 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 Slack Street recycling center parking lot and public dropoff site.        

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


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