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Recycling surplus hits $254,000
Final approval has been given for a $20,000 video promoting recycling, some of which will be shot in downtown Adrian.
By Dennis Pelham
Lenawee Daily Telegram

ADRIAN -- Surplus cash in a fund for county recycling and solid waste programs surpassed the $250,000 mark last month, and a county committee is considering suggestions for spending some of it.

Final approval was given Wednesday to spend $20,000 on a 30-minute video of a fictional drama promoting recycling. But the Lenawee County Solid Waste Coordinating Committee tabled eight other requests for further study. The video project passed a script review by the committee and is on track for production in the coming months.

Stuart MacDonald, whose Linking Ring Media Group is producing the video, said he is planning to shoot some of the video in downtown Adrian in the spring. The city setting is needed for a scene in the video of a desolate future where natural resources have been depleted or polluted.

"What I would like to do is close part of downtown Adrian," MacDonald told the committee. Old cars could be overturned in the street and other scenery added, he said.

MacDonald said he is also trying to arrange to have Gov. Jennifer Granholm or another celebrity do a short introduction to the video.

The finished video will be available to schools and through other outlets. MacDonald said he also plans to submit it to PBS television stations.

The video cost will be added to the Lenawee County Solid Waste Department's $160,000 budget for this year.

Other requests for money from the department's growing reserve fund were reviewed and most sent back for more information. The requests included starting a document shredding operation for the county government, a grant to pay for a paper baler and loading dock for the city of Morenci's recycling program and a grant to the River Raisin Watershed Council for educational materials to distribute in local schools.

The committee voted Wednesday to approve a proposed 2004 budget of nearly $192,000 that includes spending $47,000 in cash reserves.

Surplus revenue this year has pushed the reserve fund to $254,255 at the end of October.

The department's revenue comes from a 95-cent per ton fee collected on waste received at the Great Lakes Waste Systems landfill in Palmyra Township. The fee was expected to raise an average $11,000 a month this year but receipts have been $5,000 to $20,000 a month higher since June, swelling a fund reserve that was already at $196,000 when the year began.

The 2004 budget calls for boosting spending on recycling drop-off sites from this year's $38,000 to $54,000 next year. The committee approved adding a part-time clerical worker to the solid waste department staffed only by coordinator Sue Ringman.

Educational material and advertising budgets were boosted by $8,700.

Committee members debated what to do with the solid waste department's swelling fund reserves.

"It wasn't too many years ago that we didn't have enough money to pay the head person," recalled James Fischer. The department's full-time coordinator had to be laid off and was later replaced with a part-time worker.

Simply holding onto the reserve funds is a mistake, said Robert Knoblauch.

"I think we would do a disservice if we said we're going to have a balanced budget and sit on these reserves when there are things that need to be done," Knoblauch said.

Committee chairman Keith Dersham said he is reluctant to begin programs the solid waste department may not be able to continue funding in the future. But special projects were undertaken in the past when the department had surplus funds, he noted.

Dersham, who oversees Adrian's recycling program as city engineer, said in September he would like some support from the county program. Dersham said Wednesday he is considering a new location for the city's Saturday morning drop-off site. He does not yet have any proposals for the committee or final plans for upgrading the city's recycling program.

A private business that is offering a weekday recycling drop off site may take some pressure off the city's Saturday morning program.

Lake Erie Recycling Inc. of Toledo opened a facility at 1139 Treat St. in Adrian three weeks ago. Recyclable material is accepted from the public at the former truck terminal building south of Beecher Street from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, said plant manager Robert Marshall.

Lake Erie is accepting #1 and #2 plastics, cardboard, newspaper and office paper and other material, he said. The company is also buying non-ferrous scrap metal.

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