When Wright County opened its composting facility 20 years ago, the intention was more than simply collecting municipal solid waste. Part of the concept was to remove hazardous waste like pesticides, paint and other potentially dangerous chemicals from being simply landfilled.
As part of the process, the county partnered with the Tri-County Solid Waste Management Commission, which was already in place to deal with issues of dangerous chemicals being dumped in landfills and waterways. At the Feb. 5 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners approved signatures on an agreement with the Tri-County SWMC on a five-year contract for household hazardous waste collection and disposal.
Wright County Environmental Health Officer Bill Stephens told the board that the program was created by the county, but the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency made such practices mandatory throughout the state a little more than a decade ago.
“In the early 1990s, Wright County began working with the MPCA in a household hazardous waste collection program,” Stephens said. “In 2000, a statewide household hazardous waste program was created by state statute that said programs could be provided through the state directly or by contract with public or private firms. We have been partnering with the Tri-County Solid Waste Management Commission ever since.”
Under the program, Wright County will receive $15,000 a year to manage the program, which collects and safely disposes of household waste.
“It’s a program that has taken a lot of hazardous material out of the waste stream and is a benefit to everyone,” Stephens said. “$15,000 isn’t a lot of money, but you don’t turn your nose up at anything that can help you get the job done better.”
The board unanimously approved the five-year contract with Tri-County SWMC.
In other items on the Feb. 5 agenda, the board:
• Received an update on Child In Need of Protection Services (CHIPS) cases from attorney Cathleen Gabriel. Gabriel has been employed by the county since 2009 in hearings that involved termination of parental rights. In 2012, Gabriel represented the parents in 35 cases, a drop from 48 in 2011.
• Added discussion of key card access to the next building committee. Sheriff Joe Hagerty said that a pair of incidents has occurred in recent weeks that haven’t allowed sheriff’s personnel to be able to access specific areas of the courthouse. He said changes need to be made in the key card system that would allow law enforcement to access all areas of the courthouse and that the current system doesn’t allow such access. In addition, Hagerty said a security policy procedure needs to be put in place to cover such incidents in the future.
• Approved the appointment of Janet Thompson as the District 1 (Commissioner Christine Husom) appointment to the planning commission.
• Set a public hearing to discuss options for repairs to County Ditch 10 for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 in the Community Room at the county courthouse.
• Announced that a labor contract agreement has been reached between the county and Teamsters Local 320, which represents the essential supervisors unit. The agreement calls for step increases for 2013 and 2014, but no wage increase this year and a 1 percent increase for 2014.
• Approved the appointment of Peggy Boyle and Scott Peterson to the extension committee. Boyle is an appointment by Commissioner Mark Daleiden and Peterson is a re-appointment by Commissioner Pat Sawatzke.
• Scheduled a committee of the whole meeting for 10:30 a.m. following the Feb. 19 board meeting. The committee will review the county’s water management plan and discuss issues concerning water quality.
Freelancer John Holler covers government and the Wright County Board of Commissioners.