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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Recycling program earns grant

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Purdy Recycling Program is seeking new balers for its program. Spanish Club Secretary Alicia Garcia, above, is making bundles from cardboard using the current 60-inch baler. New 72-inch balers dedicated to plastic will enable the program's two current balers to be committed to cardboard, according to Gerry Wass, faculty sponsor. Grant money will enable the program to expand its equipment.
The Purdy Recycling Program, operated by the Spanish Club at Purdy High School, has been awarded a major grant from Sea World/Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.

Superintendent Jerry Lingo announced at the school board's March meeting that the recycling program was one of eight organizations nationwide to receive a $10,000 grant from Sea World. Gerry Wass, the faculty sponsor for the Spanish Club and visionary for the recycling effort, will fly to Tampa with two students to receive the award during ceremonies held April 21 through April 23.

School Board President Randy Henderson said since the February school board meeting, he and Lingo had met with Wass to get a clearer picture of where the recycling program was going. Wass provided a business plan, detailing how the operation could develop.

In his report, Wass indicated the intake of materials into the program increased by nearly 60 percent in 2009 since the new building was added.

"With recent increases in material prices, we are making about $750 per month, or $9,000 a year. We fully expect that growth to continue and bring us to $12,000 per year within the next year," the business plan stated.

The program has generated more than $75,000 over the past four years.

The business plan detailed several additional pieces of equipment that would make the operation more efficient. Two students from the Spanish Club, Ramiro Rodriguez, the recycling coordinator, and Preleen Cochran, the development officer, reviewed details with the school board. Rodriguez explained how dumping bags of cans and containers that may not be fully emptied can be messy. Placing conveyor belts on several units could eliminate such problems.

Several balers would allow materials to be compacted and stored in limited space until quantity justified a sale. A can compactor would eliminate the space issues created by storing aluminum and tin cans. A compactor could also enable the program to accept one-gallon cans from the cafeteria. Cans could be recovered for their steel content with a compactor, the report stated.

The addition of three additional balers would eliminate a backup of material, speed up operations and improve use of limited storage space. Wass estimated the cost of additional equipment at between $23,950 and $29,950.

The equipment will enable students to concentrate further on having a reliably high quality sort that impacts the price of recyclables. Rebel Recycling, from the Exeter area, which buys the recyclables now, would be able to take tin cans away in 1,000-pound compacted blocks instead of in bags, which is done presently.

In January, Wass asked the board to approve placing the district in the Rural School Membership of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which would provide the Purdy recyling program with the not-for-profit umbrella they needed for most grant opportunities.

At that time Lingo expressed concern that the Community Foundation would want to see the recycling program grow. In a time of declining enrollment and questionable state funding for education, the superintendent said he could not justify placing more money at this time into a non-education program.

The SeaWorld/Busch Gardens grant changed the equation. Returning to the subject at the March meeting, board members had specific questions for Wass and the students about equipment needs and the management of funds.

Wass informed the board that the club only uses around $2,000 a year on its activities. The bulk of the revenue has gone back into the program. "Anything going in or out would have to come through the school," Henderson said. "If something goes wrong, it comes back on the school."

Board members liked the idea of running revenues from the program through the district to the Community Foundation. Records could be shared to minimize bookkeeping. The board wanted to maintain control over major spending and achieve a system of checks and balances.

The Community Foundation charges three quarters of one percent of the annual revenue submitted as a management fee. Wass said the amount was very reasonable. The alternative of setting up a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization meant establishing a board of directors and a lengthy application process, an effort Wass did not want to start.

The ability to seek other grants as a not-for-profit entity would be very advantageous, Wass said, especially in light of the growing complexity and paperwork demands of seeking grants through the state.

"I think what Mr. Wass is asking for is probably necessary with what we're trying to do in a more efficient manner," Henderson said.

The board then voted to establish an affiliation with the Community Foundation. Plans were made to replace the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) at the Monett Municipal Airport. Pyle said the AWOS project did not take place and may not even happen in the coming year if state funds are not available.

Finally, Pyle said the major work upgrading a lift station at the waste treatment plant had not been finished. Most of the work would continue into the next fiscal year. Pyle said the FY 2010-11 budget did not include a cost-of-living raise for employees. Since the city ended the year with more money than expected, council members agreed to give a one-time $500 payment to each of its full-time employees for work done during the past year.

"The economic conditions still being experienced and forecasted to continue through the following fiscal year will not sustain a permanent increase in wages due to anticipated stagnant or declining sales tax revenue," stated the ordinance approving the additional employee pay.

"If we have better revenues than projected, we'll be back at this point next year," Pyle said. "There's no promises [the bonus] will be repeated."

"We appreciate employees understanding the situation," said Mayor Jim Orr.

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