COOPERSTOWN — Despite finishing in record time, the July meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives dealt with substantial matters Wednesday, July 3, at the county building at 197 Main St. Business included active shooter training, bridges flagged by the state and the concern that recycling is a problem with no easy solution and a potential to be a bigger burden to the county and its residents.
Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, the chair of the Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee, said since Otsego County probation officers are going to have a presence at Oneonta High School, they were going to coordinate a drill with the Oneonta Police Department and the school.
Frazier said there have also been requests from several county departments to have active shooter training.
Rep. Pete Oberacker, R-Maryland, Schenevus, Westford, Worcester, chair of the Public Works Committee, said planning is also underway for the security upgrade at the county building at 242 Main St. in Oneonta.
Oberacker said the county will also have to begin the process of evaluating upgrades to bridges in the towns of New Lisbon and Hartwick after bridges on county roads were flagged by the state Department of Transportation. He said the bridges were on county Route 14 in New Lisbon and county Route 59 in Hartwick.
“They were only yellow flags, which means they need attention,” he told The Daily Star after the meeting. “If they had been given red flags, then the situation would be considered urgent.”
However, it was the nation-wide issue of no-sort recycling that drew the longest conversation in the meeting, with almost all of the 12 representatives in attendance — Democrats Danny Lapin, Oneonta, and Andrew Marietta, town of Otsego, were not at the meeting — commenting on the rising costs and shifting guidelines for recycling.
“Recycling is getting quite expensive,” said Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Richfield, Springfield, chair of the Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee. “We need to make sure it is clean. The market is getting tight. We need to clean them up or it is going to be expensive to get rid of them.”
The representatives discussed the matter for nearly 15 minutes, with general agreement there is a growing issue. Vice Chair Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, said contaminated recycling is a problem nationwide but without “any universal options” for a solution.
Rep. Michele Farwell, D-Butternuts, Morris, Pittsfield, wondered if non-sorted recycling was a mistake, and many board members discussed ways recycling gets contaminated, including unwashed cans and bottles, plastic bags and trash being thrown in with recycling.
Several town recycling programs include unattended bins, which are often a contamination source. McCarty said it has gotten to the point where, load-by-load, the county can’t tell what recycling will be rejected as contaminated.
Several solutions proposed included better signage at and monitoring of recycling areas, and an education campaign to inform residents of the need for greater vigilance cleaning and sorting recycling products. Help from and coordination with towns and villages is going to be important, too.
The meeting lasted less than two hours, as there were few people in attendance and no special presentations. Only a handful of people spoke during the “privilege of the floor” portion, and no one spoke during a public hearing about a plan to establish a sustainable energy loan program, which took place before the main meeting.
The board approved almost everything via a consent agenda, including a proposal to buy solar-powered ticket-selling machines for the trolley in Cooperstown. The only resolution pulled from the agenda was celebratory rather than debatable. Frazier read into the minutes a resolution honoring Deputy Fire Coordinator Carl French Jr., who is retiring after 36 years working for the county.
“We’re adjourning in record time,” Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom said. “Enjoy the Fourth of July.”
Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7211.