China transfer committee discusses rude behavior at transfer station

by Mary Grow

China transfer station committee members continued to discuss rude behavior by a few users of China’s transfer station at their Aug. 8 meeting.

Committee chairman Paul Lucas witnessed one instance. He was 30 yards away, but could plainly hear a man who was “yelling” at station manager Tom Maraggio.

“I couldn’t believe the way he was talking to you,” Lucas said.

Maraggio and the rest of the staff are required to enforce regulations that are set by the state, the Town of China and the agreement between China and Palermo under which Palermo residents use the China facility.

Maraggio said unpleasant incidents are uncommon. The majority, but not all, offenders are Palermo residents, and the blue bags they are required to buy are often a cause.

Ever since the China-Palermo agreement was signed in 2016, Palermo residents have been required to use the bags. They, like China residents, have an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag on their rearview mirrors.

The current contract calls for the price of the blue bags to be adjusted annually in January. As of January 2023, an on-line site says a roll of eight 15-gallon bags costs $12.80, a roll of five 30-gallon bags $14. Apparently some people have ignored the bag requirement and get upset when they are caught.

Palermo’s two representatives on the committee had no sympathy for people who take out their annoyance on transfer station personnel. Robert Kurek, who chairs the town select board, said if Maraggio can provide names, he will talk with offenders.

Incidents are recorded on the cameras at the transfer station. Committee members discussed ways of discouraging rude behavior.

A related problem is that China and Palermo residents alike let people from other towns use their RFID tags. Committee members have discussed requiring new tags with the vehicle license plate on them and an annual sticker.

No action has been recommended, because China Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood believes both towns’ residents should pay for a new tag and Kurek thinks Palermo residents should not. Kurek suggested China take the cost of Palermo’s tags from the annual fee Palermo pays China.

The good news at the Aug. 8 meeting was a report from the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), the organization representing the towns that used the recycling facility in Hampden until it closed in May 2022.

Lucas shared copies of an email from MRC executive director Michael Carroll, who reported that Innovative, new owners of the facility, had conducted a small, successful demonstration in preparation for reopening. The demonstration used about 30 tons of solid waste from five towns near the facility.

No information is yet available on a reopening schedule. Meanwhile, China’s waste is landfilled in Norridgewock.

Committee member James Hsiang asked about promoting recycling. Maraggio replied that there is less reason to do so because prices for recycled materials are low. For many materials, shipping costs exceed revenue, to the point where recycling adds to, instead of reducing, disposal costs.

For example, he said, the price of recycled cardboard used to be $150 a ton; now it’s $40 a ton. China still recycles corrugated cardboard; he figures the town is breaking even, but not earning revenue.

Transfer station committee members scheduled their next meeting for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12.


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