Petersburg votes to resume recycling

After a request by Alderwoman Rita Cowan to resume recycling in Petersburg was left off the October 7 agenda, it was one of the two items on the October 12 special called mayor and board of alderman meeting.

Cowan presented a plan to bring recycling back to Petersburg on behalf of residents who had called or sent her texts regarding the issue. Cowan recommended installing a camera at the recycling container to ensure that only residents were utilizing the service and that only acceptable items were being recycled. She also recommended that the container be locked after hours.

Alderman Jake Bradford said that the town hall’s camera system could be expanded to spotlight the recycle trailer.

Cowan also recommended displaying signs detailing what recyclable items are accepted and what isn’t. Once the trailer is full, employee Thomas Watson would take it to Marshall County for disposal.

Resident Corey Smith and former alderman said recycling cut trash tonnage by 20 percent the first year it was implemented, adding that the trailer didn’t cost the city anything when Cowan asked him about the savings to the town. He also said that the savings [to Petersburg] was evidenced on paper.

“We can try this,” Cowan said. “If it doesn’t work, I have another plan.”

When Smith served as an alderman, he attended the Joint Economic and Development Board meetings in Marshall County on behalf of the mayor, who worked full time. In 2012, Marshall County applied for a $150,000 grant to become a single-stream recycling hub, which means recyclables didn’t have to be separated. This resulted in Petersburg receiving $13,000 with non-marching funds from the grant that funded the recycling trailer.

As an alderman, Smith said recycling became one of his projects. For three months on Saturdays he spent time at Town Hall encouraging residents to recycle rather than contribute to the landfill and educated them on what could and couldn’t be recycled. Once the container was full it was taken to Marshall County for disposal. He said the program began to fall apart when people began dumping the wrong things and no one at Town Hall wanted to manage it.

Vice Mayor Talley made the motion to implement Cowan’s recommended plan. Alderman Bradford seconded the motion.