STANTON — Residents of this city will soon have some more options when it comes to recycling, thanks to a cooperative effort with Montcalm County.
Stanton has participated in the county’s recycling program since the beginning of the program. At Tuesday’s Stanton City Commission meeting, commissioners voted to enter into an agreement with the county whereby the city will purchase two metal bins to hold cardboard recyclables.
According to James Freed, who is Stanton’s city manager and Lakeview’s village manager, a similar program in Lakeview was discontinued when county officials insisted on putting in open-air containers to hold recyclable cardboard, which Freed said violated Lakeview’s blight ordinance.
“The county did an excellent job of running (the recycling program in Lakeview) for about year,” Freed said. “Then the cardboard containers wound up on the sites without our permission. The county said it’s all or nothing and the council in Lakeview said they have to go.”
To avoid this problem in Stanton, Freed suggested the purchase of two large, metal bins to hold the cardboard recyclables. Commissioners unanimously voted to purchase the two bins at a total cost of $1,911.
“Our residents are using it,” Freed said. “Recycling is up 30 to 40 percent since these programs went in.”
Freed said several other communities throughout the county have experienced the same sort of problems as Lakeview when it came to the county’s cardboard recycling program. He predicted other communities will likely follow Stanton’s example of purchasing metal bins.
“The county is willing to work with us and this is our solution,” Freed said. “This will be going to the Lakeview Village Council at the end of the month. If we do it, we’ll be the trendsetters.”
Freed added that eventually he would like to see Stanton have a curbside recycling program similar to Greenville’s.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner John Kroneck introduced the idea of drafting an ordinance that would make it illegal within city limits to sell electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes) to anyone younger than 18 years of age. Kroneck said he had heard a piece on National Public Radio which purported that the e-cigarettes — though probably not as harmful as regular cigarettes — still contain nicotine and, possibly, other harmful substances.
“The FDA tested a couple of the cartridges and found levels of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals,” Kroneck said. “Also, they’re marketed to youth since there is no oversight by any agencies. They’re legal for anyone to purchase.”
Kronek said he spoke with some Stanton store owners who said they did not sell e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18. Still, he stressed the ordinance is needed “just in case one store started selling them.”
Freed pointed out that the idea of making e-cigarettes illegal within city limits posed several problems. First, it may not be legal to adopt such an ordinance; second, it would be difficult to enforce; and thirdly, a judge may be unwilling to enforce the ordinance should it go to court. Freed said as far as he knows, no other community has attempted to adopt a similar ordinance.
“I don’t know if we have the authority to regulate this,” Freed said. “What would the enforcement mechanism be? Would we go in and do stings? And if we do and it goes before a judge, is he even going to enforce this?”
Commissioner Krista King suggested the problem is not one for law enforcement or local government, but for parents.
“This should be a parenting concern,” King said. “I think if the kids want this they’re going to find a way to get it.”
Freed said he will research the topic and present that information to council members at a future date.
In other business, commissioners voted to approve a 2.1 percent pay raise for all city employees, save Freed, who works under a separate contract. Freed noted that the money for the raise is available in the general fund and that it has been a while since city workers received a cost of living increase.
Commissioners also voted to set two-year staggered terms to the city’s Planning Commission. Beginning next year, each year, two members will come up for reappointment.
Finally at Tuesday’s meeting, Freed noted that all underground work on the city’s ongoing streets renovation project will be completed by Friday. Reseeding of “green” areas torn up during the project will take place in the spring.
The Stanton City Commission will meet next on Nov. 12.