December 2, 2009

While they’ve served the county well, the contract was about to expire so the Solid Waste District decided to seek other quotes for handling the needs of the citizens.  The “District” wanted to change to the “single stream” collection process simply meaning that you would no longer need to separate your recyclables into two containers.  Also an important change will be the acceptance of all plastic material.  No longer will they refuse products like water softener salt bags.   All plastics are to be accepted.

In October, four quotes were reviewed and the decision was made to accept the quote of All Pro dba Whitley Environmental of Columbia City.  I for one am extremely excited about being able to keep your recycling fees in Whitley County.   It is our hopes that the fee for 2010 will not increase from 2009 but that still has not been decided.  Regardless if there is an increase it will be very small.   

Secondly, the “District” decided to purchase the containers instead of renting them from the vendor as we’ve done in the past.  The containers purchased are 96 gallon and have wheels.  This container will be very similar to your current garbage container if you use Serv-All. They will be blue in color and have the name of the district on them. 

The latest information from the Solid Waste District Director, Mr. Jorell Tucker,  indicates that for the Churubusco area, your final pickup of recyclables by Serv-All will be December 18th and we have been told by Serv-All that a second truck will follow the recycling vehicle and pick up your gray and black containers.   Additionally, it is the district’s hope that prior to December 18, your new container should be delivered to you.  Please do not use this container for the final pickup on December 18.  It is my understanding that your schedule of 2010 pickups will be found inside of your container.  Whitley Environmental will begin their first pickup on Saturday, January 2, 2010.  Normal pickups will be every other Friday just as it is now but one day later on holiday weeks. 

If you have any questions about the recycling service for 2010 feel free to contact Whitley Environmental at 609-1112 (toll free for Busco).  The owners of Whitley Environmental are Duane Knott and Steve Smith, both long-time Whitley County residents. 

I hope that you will find recycling easier than in the past with these changes.   It is our hope that recycling volumes will increase. 

As for the Humane Shelter the news is not quite as positive if you’re a big fan of the shelter.  I think the shelter plays an important role but I’m not an advocate of funding the shelter with tax money.  Recently the Humane Society had a fund raiser and many folks gladly donated but that should be a personal decision and not mandated by a tax.  Upon becoming a commissioner I learned that previous commissioners created a contract with the shelter that provided them with $10,000.00 annually if they accepted dogs from the county.  The City of Columbia City, the Town of Churubusco and the Town of South Whitley have similar contracts.  It is up to each municipality to decide if they want to participate. 

Here is where the situation gets a little sticky.  The commissioners can have such contracts but it is up to the county council to see that funding is or isn’t available.  The county council is the financial arm of county government.

Early in 2009 a group of individuals representing the Humane Shelter approached the county council and asked for $30,000.00 for 2009.  The council, knowing that the agreement was for $10,000.00, told the group that $30,000.00 was out of the question and in the course of the meeting cooler heads did not prevail.  The shelter group left the meeting with the threat that the shelter would not accept county animals if the county didn’t pay and the council felt that such a threat was grounds for them to not pay anything in 2009.

Now we fast forward to about October when our county attorney, Mr. Dan Sigler, was asked to review the situation.  It was Mr. Sigler’s opinion that the contract was indeed breeched by the shelter but  for the sake of everyone a meeting between the county and shelter should take place.  At this point, neither side was a winner.  It’s also important for you to know that the group of individuals that had represented the shelter earlier in the year was no longer involved with the decision making at the shelter.  A committee consisting of myself, Mr. Jim Banks and Mr. Kim Wheeler of the County Council, Sheriff Mark Hodges, Mr. Dan Sigler, and Lori Shipman and the current shelter director met in October and discussed the situation.  Mr. Sigler mediated an agreement between the county and shelter in which we all agreed that the county would pay the shelter $5,000.00 which would equal one-half year’s agreed amount and the shelter would agree to begin accepting animals from the county immediately.  However, it is also important to note that the county, per stipulation in the 2009 agreement, gave notice to the shelter that there would be no funding for 2010. 

This situation has proven to me that cats and dogs are a very emotional issue.  That said as a county leader I must remove emotions and make decisions based on what’s best for everyone in the county and of course, what do the constituents want!  I would love to hear from you on the issue of  “What should be the county’s involvement (if any) in a Humane Shelter?”.  Oh, by the way, the law does not state that a county has to participate while it does state that cities must participate . . . go figure that?  I would prefer not taking phone calls on this subject but instead would love to receive emails (bison1112002@ yahoo.com) or regular mail.  Please sign your name and give me a phone number in the event I need more information and keep in mind that I most likely will share your responses with other county officials.  Thank you in advance. 

Finally, our committee is not disbanding now that this decision has been reached.  We plan to continue to meet quarterly in 2010 in an effort to continually review the situation.

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