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Getting tough on recycling?

by Gail Marsh

ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR

CLARKSBURG -- Harrison County has had a recycling ordinance since 1992, but it will take more than just an ordinance on the books to increase the number of residents and business owners who comply.

"Right now we don't have the power to enforce the ordinance. The bottom line is that you have to walk the walk. You can't just have language on a piece of paper and expect people to comply," said Paul Hamrick, director of the county Solid Waste Authority.

Earlier this year, the Harrison County Commission agreed to have the ordinance reviewed because of a lack of participation by businesses and residents. Any ordinance drafted by the authority will have to be approved by the commission before it is enacted.

The authority met with representatives from municipal governments and commercial and industrial establishments Tuesday at the 4-H Barn to talk about putting some teeth into the nearly 10-year-old ordinance.

Authority officials have held a number of meetings in the last few months to hear from county residents, government officials and business owners about what they would like to see the updated recycling ordinance include.

When the current ordinance was written, the commission included penalties for residents who violate the rules, but did not include any practical way to enforce the fines, Hamrick said. The only way to currently pursue a violator is through magistrate court, he said.

The authority would like to see a new ordinance that would include a policy similar to one used by the Division of Environmental Protection. DEP officers can write a citation, giving the resident or business owner a certain period of time to correct the problem before they are fined, Hamrick said.

"Our goal is to have an ordinance that would allow the sheriff's department or the solid waste authority to write citations on the spot. That's the only thing that will really make a difference," Hamrick said.

Though the county has met the ordinance's goal of a 30 percent reduction in waste through recycling and composting efforts by the year 2000, it's still not enough, Hamrick said.

The authority plans to present a draft to the Harrison County Commission in the next 45 days. Public hearings will follow before the ordinance can be enacted.

"We've come a long way since 1992 and a lot of people are doing a terrific job. We just need to remind people that this is a service they pay for that the haulers provide. They should take advantage of it," he said.

Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at gmarsh@exponent-telegram.com

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