By Michael Howell
Ravalli County Recycling is open once again at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds in Hamilton on Mondays. The recycling service, which was started at the fairgrounds by Retired Senior Volunteer Program members and then suspended during Fair time, is now collecting recyclables once again at the north gate on Old Corvallis Road.
The County Commissioners by resolution set a November 4 deadline for the recycling operation to find another home. According to Doug Soehren of the newly organized non-profit Ravalli Recycling, another site has already been found just across the street and the recycling program may be off the Fairgrounds by early October.
Soehren said that the old Gardener’s Auction site across the street on Fairgrounds Road is going to be the new home of Habitat for Humanity. He said that organization has plans for opening a Re-Store on the site to sell donated and re-usable building materials. Soehren said that the recycling group had an agreement with Habit for Humanity to use the site for Phase II of the company’s business plan.
Phase II of the recycling efforts means finally including cardboard as well as plastics and paper. Ravalli Recycling received a $60,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Quality last March that required, among other things, a site of operation. That grant was put on hold when the county commissioners decided to boot the program off the fairgrounds. Soehren said that grant was now back on track with the Habitat for Humanity site. He said the proceeds would be used to purchase a compactor truck that could be used to compress cardboard.
“It would be parked at the site and when it is full we would drive it to Missoula and sell it to one of the three companies there that purchase cardboard for recycling,” said Soehren.
Soehren said that another part of the expansion involved in Phase II was the use of a new, bigger trailer and truck to provide a mobile drop off site to other communities in the valley like Darby, Stevensville, and eventually Corvallis, Victor and Pinesdale, if there is enough interest.
“We will go to communities on specific days and be there for specific hours and people can bring their recyclables into town that day.” Soehren said that Pacific Recycling in Missoula had agreed to let them use a small baler to compress the recyclables for transport to save on transportation costs.
Soehren said that DEQ funding would also enable hiring an employee or possibly two half-time employees to run the compactor truck and the mobile drop-off unit.
“I’m excited,” said Soehren. “It’s something the community really needs.”
Recyclables are now being accepted on Mondays from 3 to 6 p.m. at the north gate of the Fairgrounds on Old Corvallis Road.