Same Destination

Written by I.R.C.. Posted in Earth Matters Columns

Building a Tradition a Key to Sustainability Efforts

Sometimes, especially in Pennsylvania, two different roads can lead to the same place. This can happen figuratively as well as geographically.
Strangely, Blair County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joe Hurd and I have experienced this phenomenon twice during our professional lives. As younger men, local sports fans might remember that we both coached successful high school girls’ basketball teams.

Though our teams were rivals, we were part of a group of coaches and hard-working players that helped make our region a hotbed of girls’ basketball success. While we took two different paths, our journeys brought us to the same final destination – a level of success that female high school athletics had seldom experienced in our region.

Life went on for both of us and we ended up again, seemingly, on opposite sides of the fence. As executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, Joe had become one of the county’s most visible business advocates. Working for the state recycling organization and then the local recycling office, I came to fill a similar advocacy role on environmental issues.

Yet just as in our previous lives, we found ourselves going to the same place via different routes. As I came to fully appreciate the many different ways business could help solve environmental problems, Joe came to recognize that sound environmental management was usually good for a businesses’ bottom line.
Our professional passions criss-cross frequently and we share concerns over quality of life issues that are important for both environmental protection and business development. We have shared aspirations to enhance our transportation infrastructure, expand local government cooperation, promote local businesses, and reconnect the agricultural community to our urban consumers.

Both of us have remained in Blair County, but have also looked elsewhere in the hopes of learning from other’s successes. It was with this in mind that the Chamber’s Committee on Sustainability invited Centre County’s Recycling and Refuse Authority’s Joanne Shafer to the next Chamber Breakfast Club on October 11th. Centre County has a long tradition of innovative solid waste management and successful recycling. Their programs have contributed to the county often being ranked among Pennsylvania’s most livable communities. Shafer will highlight how Centre County has
• Built a coordinated county-wide program supported by both the public and private sector
• Developed and implemented a uniform and successful recycling program for both residential and business entities
• Addressed not only traditional wastes, but special wastes and recyclables, at affordable prices
• Discouraged illegal dumping and theft of services in commercial dumpsters by assuring that residents have waste collection throughout most of the county
• Provide assistance, services, and resources that will give businesses and institutions the tools that they need to handle wastes properly, while reducing waste costs and liability.

The Centre Region and its municipalities have worked together to build a tradition of successful and popular “green” and sustainable programs and practices of all kinds.

Surely if Blair County can build a great basketball tradition, it can find a way to build a great “Green” tradition as well. Both business and the environment will end up winners and Joe and I will reach another goal, even if by slightly different paths.

Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend the Chamber’s October 11th Breakfast Club to find out what Blair County might learn from its neighbor to the north. Visit for details.

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