China transfer station committee asks for travel reimbursement

by Mary Grow

Members of China’s Transfer Station Committee, meeting remotely the morning of Nov. 10, discussed a variety of trash-disposal and recycling issues, but made only one decision.

They voted to ask that the 2020-21 town budget include $1,000 for committee expenses, so that members could, for example, get mileage reimbursement if they visit the Fiberight/Coastal Resources waste disposal facility in Hampden, or attend training classes if deemed useful.

In the past, any such funds came from the transfer station budget. Committee members and Town Manager Becky Hapgood agreed a separate budget line would promote transparency.

The Hampden facility has been closed for several months. Hapgood and committee member Irene Belanger said the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), the group of facility-using towns on which Belanger represents China, is overseeing pending transfer to new ownership. No decision has been made, and Belanger had no guess as to when one would be made.

Meanwhile, transfer station Manager Ronald Marois said, China’s municipal solid waste (MSW), the things residents dump in the transfer station hopper, is being landfilled in Norridgewock. The exceptions are tires, which are sent to Penobscot Energy Recovery Center (PERC), and recyclables.

Bob Kurek, Palermo’s representative on the committee (because Palermo shares China’s transfer station, paying both an annual fee and a per-bag charge), said he would have appreciated advance notice on the recent elimination of mixed paper and other items from recycling.

Hapgood apologized for the lack of notice. Selectmen approved the changes more quickly than usual, she explained, for two reasons: low market prices and especially the desire to minimize handling items brought in, for the safety of transfer station staff.

Cardboard also needs handling, but cardboard recycling is mandated by town ordinance and therefore continues.

Safety was paramount when Kurek asked about plans to reopen the free-for-the-taking building, earlier called the swap shop, which was closed to avoid bringing in things and people as the pandemic spread. Hapgood’s reply referred to the current surge in Covid-19 cases in Maine and nationally as the reason no date is being proposed.

Marois thinks the pandemic is the main reason the transfer station has been extremely busy, taking in unusual amounts of both household waste and demolition debris.

“We can’t keep up with it,” Marois told the rest of the committee. “Everybody’s still home, and they’re still cleaning or remodeling.”

The station manager added that the more thoroughly demolition debris can be crushed and compacted, to get more into each truckload, the lower the overall hauling cost; but large items, especially mattresses, are hard to compact.

Committee Chairman Larry Sikora suggested at a future meeting, committee members might review the fees charged for disposal of items other than MSW to see if they need changing. (The list of fees is on the town’s website, under transfer station.)

Committee members also plan to review operating manuals for the transfer station, probably a project for early 2021. Sikora said they are in two volumes, each about three inches thick, and he believes some of the content dates from 1992. The second volume is mostly manuals for specific pieces of equipment; Marois and Kurek suggested some might no longer be needed. Committee member Karen Hatch volunteered to work on the manuals.

The next Transfer Station Committee meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8. It will again be a Zoom meeting.

New face covering mandate on municipal property

By order of Maine Governor Janet Mills, face masks must be worn by everyone in publicly accessible parts of state, county or municipal buildings and grounds, whether or not physical distancing is possible. China Town Manager Becky Hapgood said the order covers the China transfer station, both grounds and buildings.


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