The American Public Works Association (APWA) recently asked for recycling programs in the rural United States to submit their programs for examination.
Cynthia Mitchell with the Midwest Assistance Program, and Lynda Roehl, South Central Solid Waste Management district coordinator (SCSWMD), which serves Oregon County, submitted information on the programs of the SCSWMD.
Roehl and Tim Roehl, a technician with the SCSWMD were invited to do a presentation at the 2008 APWA International Public Works Congress which was held at the Convention Center in New Orleans, La., Aug. 17-20.
There were over 6,000 attendees from all over the U.S. and Canada, Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand.
"There were presentations on all aspects of public works projects, including roads, waste water and solid waste. There were about 600 exhibitors at the trade show," Roehl said.
John Wrenfrow and his wife Sharon, attended the Congress. Wrenfrow went as a representative of the Oregon County Recycling Association (OCRA), where he is on the local executive board of directors. Wrenfrow is also Southern District Commissioner for Oregon County.
The SCSWMD serves 6,500 square miles, the same size as the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut together. The seven counties in the rural Ozarks served by the SCSWMD has a population of less than 125,000.
"The presentation I presented was titled 'Survivor Rural Missouri-Solid Waste Challenges and Elimination.' I didn't pick the title. The main focus was on the recycling program of the (OCRA)," Roehl said.
The presentation included information on the OCRA program.
"It told about the start of the program in 1994. A state project grant provided funds for equipment to open a center on Front Street in Thayer. OCRA provides curbside collection of recyclables to the city of Thayer and the city of Alton," Roehl said.
Residents pay a small fee for rural collection services and for collections at all the schools in the county. There is a drop-off site for recycling -- an Alley Cat trailer at the courthouse at Alton.
"Oregon County is one of the few counties in the country to have a full service recycling program," she said.
In 2001, the OCRA received the first federal grant funding to build a recycling center in the Industrial Park at Thayer. The center employs four full-time workers and processes about 500 tons of materials each year.
"The presentation also included information on the household hazardous waste collections, electronic collections, school chemical clean outs and illegal dumping prevention programs that the district manages for its counties. The cities in Oregon County have been great to work with. That's how they could get so much done," Roehl said.