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Kandiyohi County, Minn., campaign will sell idea of recycling

WILLMAR - Kandiyohi County will be using a local marketing company to help convince people to recycle.

With an estimated cost of $3,000 to $5,000, the commissioners agreed the campaign is well worth the investment because it could mean extending the life of the landfill.

The landfill was expanded last year at a cost of $1 million.

Each day items that can be recycled and sold are instead buried in the heap of garbage at the county-owned landfill.

The sooner the landfill is filled, the sooner taxpayers will have to fork over another $1 million, or more, to build another new extension.

At their meeting Tuesday the Commissioners were told that the county's recycling committee has been searching for new ways to encourage people to recycle.

County Administrator Larry Kleindl said county employees do "a great job" managing the recycling and household hazardous waste programs but they're not experts in marketing.

After seeking proposals, Kleindl said Linda Mathiasen of LDMarketing presented a plan that was well within the landfill's fund for professional services.

Kleindl said the plan will include a defined mission and vision and a revised logo that will be "catchy" and get the attention of homeowners and businesses. There will be increased use of social media and updates to the web site to help get the message out, said Kleindl.

"We want them to know recycling is a good thing to do and it's the right thing to do," he said.

The campaign is expected to be launched in June.

Commissioner Jim Butterfield said the investment is a "very wise expenditure for our county" because it could save taxpayers "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in taxes. He said individuals can also save money by recycling and spending less on garbage fees.

Butterfield said he and his wife started recycling in earnest several years ago and went from 4-5 bags of garage a week to about one bag of garbage a week.

He said if "everyone did that and banded together on recycling it would really help out our landfill."

The county began its recycling program about 22 years ago, said Environmental Services Director Jeff Bredberg. He estimates that about 25 percent of the county's materials are recycled and the rest goes to the landfill. It's hard to gauge exactly how much is recycled, however, because the state bases recycling rates on tonnage.

Materials have changed in recent years that could be affecting that rate.

Bredberg said 10 years ago it took 10 aluminum cans to make a pound and now it takes 25 cans. More food products now come in plastic bottles instead of glass, which also affects weight totals.

But Bredberg said there are many items going to the landfill than should be recycled.

Kleindl said the marketing campaign will give county staff 'the tools they need to do their jobs better."

The campaign is expected to begin in June.

In other action:

*Bids were opened to reconstruct two county roads that will turned back to Lake Andrew Township and Irving Township. Minnerath Construction of Cold Spring offered bids that were significantly lower than the other contractors and well below the engineer's estimates. Minnerath's bid for the Irving road project was $141,000 below the estimate and about $326,000 below the highest bidder. Their bid for the Lake Andrew road project was $47,000 below the estimate and nearly $85,000 below the highest bidder.

The public works department will evaluate the bids and offer a recommendation at the next county board meeting on June 4.

*The commissioners approved a two-year contract to fund a fraud investigation of people wrongfully receiving public assistance. Barb Kavanagh, a family service supervisor, told the commissioners that for every $1 invested in the fraud program the county receives $4 in savings.

*The commissioners agreed to transfer $251,600 from the county's compliance fund to conduct a GIS fly-over to provide additional, detailed mapping information that can be used by multiple county entities, like law enforcement, surveyor, assessor, recorder, planning and zoning and the highway department. Another $15,000 from the fund will be used for productivity grading of agricultural land that will be another layer to the county maps.

*The commissioners will hold a joint meeting with the city of Willmar and Willmar School Board at 4:30 p.m. next Tuesday for the Vision 2040 project. Community meetings will be held in July.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750