In August 2018, the county’s site for hard-to-recycle materials was closed, and the Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers officially relocated its offices to where it resides now at the Bill Theisen Industrial Park in The Plains.

However, members of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action and the recycling center want to create such a drop-off locale once again.

Glen Crippen, director of housing and community development for HAPCAP, spoke to the Athens County Commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 6 to discuss whether this would be an opportunity to request funds from the state’s Community Development Block Grant program.

CDBG funding is used to develop housing and suitable living environments, but can also be used to expand economic opportunities, mainly for low- and moderate-income persons.

The facility would be located on the AHRC’s property at the Bill Theisen Industrial Park, located on Poston Road.

Called a center for hard-to-recycle materials, or CHaRM, the operations would allow for increased recycling of materials in the county, as electronic equipment, light bulbs, and other hard-to-recycle items could then be collected and recycled by the nonprofit.

“We may be able to put a project together that would be entirely grant-funded that would assist the recycling center in constructing a CHaRM facility on-site out there,” Crippen explained. “It would be about a half a million dollars, including engineering and some of the administration.”

Crippen said he is also looking at funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, but needed permission from the Commissioners to send a letter of intent. The Commissioners are the grantee and applicant for such funding measures.

The funding would be through a targets of opportunity grant, none of which is currently being administered within Athens County.

“It’s just the beginning of it, there’s no liability to the county, not a penny needed to invest on your behalf, unless we get the grant but then the project is entirely grant-funded,” Crippen said.

Crippen said Bruce Underwood, director of the Recycling Center, said there is support from the AHRC board, which would be able to fund staffing the center.

Underwood told the Commissioners that there has been a real need for such a facility.

“I think it’s a real great opportunity if we are successful in the grant,” he said. “It picks up all these materials that are not traditionally in curbside recycling, or at a public drop off, things like mattresses and computers and textiles.”

Commissioner Chris Chmiel asked what all would be accepted at the facility, such as regular recycling and trash.

“We would want that to be a component and take as many materials as we possibly could,” Underwood said. “There are other materials we want to look at, like paint. Those things you mentioned would certainly be a part of that.”

As for jobs created?

“Initially, at least 1.5 full time employees,” Underwood said.

The grant would mainly be used to purchase land for sorting of the materials. The previous CHaRM location on Route 13 was closed in 2018, limiting the center’s square footage.

The Commissioners voted approval for a letter of intent to be submitted for the CDBG funding.

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