Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” came to mind recently when I was asked yet again if the county’s compost facilities were closing. Twain was feared to be on death’s door in 1897 when he was confused with his sick cousin James.
Just as Twain was still with us at the time, the compost facilities near Duncansville, the Buckhorn and Bellwood are still alive and well. Besides serving Blair County’s mandated recycling municipalities, the three sites serve most of the county’s other communities and hundreds of users every week during the fall leaf season.
The Buckhorn site (which also provides drop-off recycling for a wide variety of recyclable materials) is now operated by the Intermunicipal Relations Committee (IRC) Council of Governments (COG). It’s open every day but Wednesday and Sunday in the fall. The Blair County Conservation District helps the IRC to man the Duncansville facility every Tuesday through Thanksgiving. The Bellwood area facility (which can only accept non-commercial patrons because of site limitations) is hosted by Antis Township and is open Monday through Saturday most weeks.
The fact that the sites remain open also means that all those municipalities that collect leaves or brush at the curbside are still providing that service. These programs are among the most popular services provided by local government in Blair County.
It prompts a plea that we make to the public from time to time, that folks minimize what they burn or consider kicking the burning habit altogether. Although the study and effects of air pollutants in general are complicated, there is little question that the burning of leaves can trigger unpleasant, even life threatening, health problems. These problems are especially pronounced in high risk people – the very young, the very old and those whose immune systems are compromised.
Any county resident or property owner can bring their own leaves to the compost facilities at no charge. The City of Altoona, Logan Township, and Hollidaysburg and Tyrone Boroughs all offer weekly leaf collection through Thanksgiving or later. Allegheny, Antis and Blair Townships and Duncansville, Williamsburg and Roaring Spring Boroughs also offer curbside collection at least once or twice each fall.
The last of the county’s old drop-off recycling depots was closed down this past week. But the Buckhorn facility is still accepting both traditional materials (that are part of regular curbside collection programs) and many special recyclables as well.
Besides bottles, cans, paper and cardboard, residents can drop-off all kinds of electronics, many rigid plastics (like toys, flower pots, CD cases and vinyl siding and fencing), rechargeable batteries, automotive fluids, waste cooking oil and fluorescent bulbs.
A special drop-off recycling event is also being held today from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Lakemont. In addition to computers, televisions and other electronic devices, this final event of the fall season will also include boxes and books. That means any sort of box (corrugated or thinner paperboard) and books of all kinds will be accepted.
Though the system is changing and you might have to look a bit harder for some recycling provisions, reports of recycling’s death really have been greatly exaggerated.
John Frederick writes about environmental issues every other week. For more on the changing recycling landscape in Blair County, readers are invited to visit www.ircenvironment.org.