KITTANNING – Armstrong County officials last week unveiled plans to keep the county’s recycling program going, even after the contract with the program’s current stewards ends next week.

At their meeting on July 2, county commissioners Don Myers, Jason Renshaw and Pat Fabian approved agreements with neighboring Indiana County and county-based Mecall Services to keep the recycling program up and running.

After severing ties with the Progressive Workshop of Kittanning, which has for years overseen the county’s recycling program and operated the recycling center in Rayburn Township, the commissioners vowed that the program would continue.

“I want to thank the people of Armstrong County for their flexibility and understanding throughout this transition,” Myers said. “This coordinated and strategic plan for recycling will ultimately save taxpayer dollars and lead to enhanced services.”

County planning director Darin Alviano explained that Mecall will oversee the recycling program, utilizing former county employees and recycling coordinator Sally Conkin, a Mecall employee. And rather than the county operating the recycling center itself, Alviano said the county will work with Indiana County, and transport recyclable materials across the county line to be processed.

Essentially, Alviano said, people will still be able to drop off recyclables at the county’s recycling center, or at mobile trailers placed in various communities around the county, and will notice no difference in the procedure. He noted that the county’s deal with Indiana is similar to the one Jefferson County has with Indiana for the same services.

Officials said that municipalities in Armstrong County that would like to have a recycling trailer placed in their community can contact Mecall Services. Commercial businesses are also encouraged to contact Mecall if they are looking to have recyclables collected.

“We know how important recycling services are to area residents and we are happy to be able to continue those services going forward,” Renshaw said.

The agreement between the county and Mecall is for two years at an annual cost of $52,000. The county expects to receive 50 percent reimbursement of these costs through a state recycling coordinator grant. Services to be provided include municipal coordination, state coordination, grant writing, completion of state reports, coordination with the recycling processing operator, development and implementation of a marketing plan, and an overall evaluation of the recycling program.

“Mecall Services has the experience to plan to operate the recycling center in a fiscally responsible manner,” Fabian said.

Alviano said the county hopes the new setup will allow the program to grow over time.

“The more recycling you do, the more the county will receive,” he said, explaining that the county will receive revenue for sales of the recyclable materials.

He also said that the new system will be in place and ready when the agreement with the Progressive Workshop ends on July 17.

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“We want to make this seamless,” he said.

COVID Funding

The commissioners announced at their meeting last week that the county is in line to receive $5.8 million in CARES COVID-19 county relief grant funding.

To help facilitate the grant program, the commissioners agreed to hire the accounting firm of Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, which is also working with a number of other counties to help provide advice and to plan for spending the money.

The commissioners said the funds have to be spent by the end of the year, and that there are a lot of restrictions on how the money can be spent.

Fabian said the county has been meeting with accountants and attorneys to figure out the best ways to roll out the program and to create a priority list for using the money.

“We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time,” he said.

“The clock is ticking,” chief administrator Aaron Poole added. “Any misspent dollars, the county has to repay.”

Other Business

• Approval was given for the purchase of a larger scanner that will enable the county’s elections office to handle the increased number of mail-in and absentee ballots.

Elections director Jennifer Bellas said that the county saw “a huge influx of mail-in ballots and absentee ballots” during the primary election, and expects the same this fall and in future elections. She said the new scanner, with a price tag of $4,075, could be paid for with CARES funding.

• Larena Mazurek of Worthington, Donna Shields of Ford City and Parks Denardo Jr. of Ford City were reappointed to the county’s Board of Assessment Appeals, with terms running from the start of this year through December 2023.

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