Ligonier Valley recycling program marks 25th year
By Deborah A. Brehun
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The Loyalhanna Watershed Association marks its 25th year of recycling in March.
To recognize the importance of continued community support for the program in the Ligonier Valley, the association is offering recycling window clings for those who contribute $25 or more towards the recycling efforts in 2013.
“Because this program is funded solely from contributions, not municipal tax dollars, it is truly a community effort to keep recycling in Ligonier,” said Susan Huba, executive director of the association.
Watershed association member Margot Woodwell suggested the cling idea as a way to generate additional funds as well as provide a show of support for the program by displaying the clings.
Huba said more than $21,000 was raised in 2012 for the program from grants and individual donations.
Recycling efforts first began in the Ligonier Valley in March, 1988.
Lysle Sherwin, executive director of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association at that time, addressed Ligonier Borough Council about working together with the League of Women Voters and Ligonier Valley Firefighters Association to begin once-a-month recycling at the Ligonier Armory. Initially the proceeds were equally divided to benefit highway beautification and open space program for Route 30 and a fire prevention education program. The first recycling efforts included newsprint and aluminum cans. More than 300 cars visited the site on the first day, dropping off more than 20,000 pounds of paper and 300 pounds of aluminum cans. The papers were hauled to Greensburg Waste Paper Co. and the cans were taken to Alcoa.
Throughout the next dozen years, participation in the program dwindled.
When Drew Banas came onboard as executive director at the watershed association in 2001, he said he quickly learned the community wanted to revive the recycling program.
“People were congratulating me about becoming executive director and then immediately asking, ‘Now, what are you going to do about recycling,' in the same sentence,” said Banas.
Banas recalls the growth of the program through the years and credited the many volunteers and donors who helped make the recycling center what it is today.
After securing a new location, at its present site on Old Route 30, Banas said he secured a rusty 50-cubic-yard container from Pittsburgh Recycling and set it out to see if the loads were worth their while.
“Cook Township gave us a set of iron steps to help get the recycling up into the bin,” said Banas. “Those old steps weren't safe, but the people did it anyway.”
Using grant monies, the location soon offered two bins. Banas said local Boy Scouts designed and built a set of movable steps to share between the bins.
“Then they built a second set of steps so you did not have to move the steps from one bin to the other,” he said.
Next, gravel was added around the bins and another grant was used to add asphalt and concrete slabs to set the bins on.
“Ligonier Township did a lot of work throughout the whole project to keep it going,” said Banas.
Since the site was accessible 24 hours a day, darkness became an issue. So, West Penn Power Co. installed a dusk-to-dawn light in exchange for a right of way along Old Route 30.
“Then, when we needed a better way to get to the bins, we had the Scouts build platforms outside of each bin,” said Banas.
Even when the market for recycled waste dropped a few years ago, Banas said the community continued to support the program.
“We had to close for a month in 2010,” said Huba. “That is when Betty Gamble came forward because she said it was too important to lose this program. She made the start-up grant to keep it going. She wanted this to become a community-assisted effort with hopes others would continue to keep it going.”
That was three years ago, and the recycling program is still going strong. Presently, there are multiple bins on the site for glass, plastics, metal cans, paper and cardboard.
Huba said more than 579 tons of paper, 280 tons of co-mingled plastic, glass and aluminum items and 100 tons of cardboard were recycled at the center in 2012.
“This area is conservation-minded. They care about the environment and natural resources,” said Banas. “And they show that by their support of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association.”
One area resident is showing his support by offering to help clear the litter from the site and nearby wetlands. Litter has always been an issue in and around the area of the bins.
“Doug uses the facility almost daily to recycle items on his way to his Latrobe office and noticed the large amount of litter and other items around the facility and decided to do something about it,” said Huba. “It really helps to know that others care about this program as much as we do.”
Gross volunteered the services of his landscape design and tree care company employees to maintain the area as well.
“We will do our best to help keep it clean, but we need everybody's help to keep it going,” Gross said. “This is a free service they provide with easy access, and it is quite handy.”
Gross hopes his example will promote others to pick up loose trash and keep the area clear of debris.
“If the bins are overflowing, do not leave big bags beside the bin, come back on a day when the bins are empty,” he said. “We just want to help get John Q. Public in the mind set of trying to help out here, too.”
The clings are available for purchase at the association's office, the Ligonier Valley YMCA and the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce.
For more information about the program, call 724-238-7560 or go to www.loyalhannawatershed.org.
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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