Howard City recycling site set to be shut down

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 8:20 pm on Friday, November 04, 2016

A sign clearly states which items are and are not acceptable for recycling at Montcalm County recycling sites throughout the county, including Howard City’s site in the parking lot of Leppink’s. The county is planning on eliminating Howard City’s site due to garbage abuse and financial issues. — File photo

STANTON — Montcalm County’s free recycling site in Howard City is set to close after no one from the community attended a meeting to speak in support of the service.

The county’s Solid Waste Management Committee hosted a special meeting Thursday to discuss funding options for county recycling. The county will be charged a recycling fee by Kent County starting in January, which the county cannot afford.

The committee had recommended shutting down Lakeview’s recycling site — which would cover the cost of paying Kent County — but the motion failed in a 4-5 vote by the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners in October. Commissioners had been concerned the Lakeview community hadn’t been properly informed about the possibility of losing the site.

On Thursday, the Solid Waste Committee switched its focus from Lakeview to Howard City.

Resource Recovery Coordinator Chloe Morey said she had contacted Montcalm County Commissioner Ron Baker of Howard City, along with Howard City Village Manager-President Randy Heckman and DDA Chairman S. Michael Scott about Thursday’s meeting. None of the Howard City officials attended Thursday’s meeting, nor did anyone from Lakeview.

Morey said although no Howard City officials were present Thursday, she did speak with Baker recently and she said he shared his opinion that maybe it’s time to eliminate Howard City’s site.

Baker confirmed this with The Daily News.

“We have a host site that is not happy with it and would not, I think, object for us to shut down that site instead of going the Lakeview route,” said committee member Lonnie Smith. “I think this is probably the easiest pill to swallow.

“Howard City did put a fair amount of money into that site,” Smith added. “It’s going to go to waste.”

Howard City is Montcalm County’s busiest and most used recycling site. Its location at Leppink’s is convenient — probably too convenient, as people dumping trash at the site is a constant problem, with much of the trash coming from outside the county due to the U.S. 131 expressway’s proximity to the village.

“People at Leppink’s are upset, people in the community call upset,” noted Roger Rockburn of Republic Services in Pierson. “We have no representatives from either side here, Lakeview or Howard City. There’s only so much money that comes from the landfill to fund this program. Unless people are willing to kick in, something needs to be looked at.”

The committee unanimously voted to recommend the full Board of Commissioners eliminate Howard City’s recycling site effective Dec. 23.

“It’s certainly not something that I wanted to do, but it’s a financial nightmare,” said Montcalm County Commissioner Tom Lindeman.

“None of us wanted to do it,” Smith added.

Anyone wishing to share their input about Howard City’s recycling site before the full board votes on the recommendation should attend Monday’s full board meeting, which is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Montcalm County Administrative Building in Stanton (the full board typically meets on fourth Mondays, but the date has been changed this month due to Thanksgiving).

Montcalm County also hosts free recycling sites in Carson City, Crystal Township, Edmore and Stanton. Representatives from those four towns all attended Thursday’s meeting to speak in support of keeping those sites open, including Carson City Administrator Jean Southward, Montcalm County Commissioner Betty Kellenberger of Carson City, Crystal Township Treasurer Ted Padgett, Edmore DPW Supervisor Andy Anderson and Elizabeth Pynaert, executive assistant and community liaison for the city of Stanton.

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