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Mandatory recycling coming to Thurmont

(4/22) Tossing your soda cans into the trash might soon be a crime in Thurmont.

The Thurmont Town Commissioners are planning to bring mandatory recycling to the town to try to lower rising trash disposal costs.

"We're 150 percent in support of mandatory recycling, which I think people are going to shoot us for," said Commissioner Bill Blakeslee.

The commissioners met recently with the town's recycling commission, which has been working for the last couple of months to develop an ordinance the town can enact.

"We're at a point now that we need to have some direction so we know where to go next," said Commissioner Ron Terpko, who serves as the town's liaison on the recycling commission.

Top of the list for the recycling commission is to hire a part-time enforcement officer for the ordinance. This person would patrol the town making sure residents are separating recyclables from their trash. When someone isn't, the officer would have the power to issue a citation.

"After six months, people are either going to be fined out the wazoo or be doing it," Blakeslee said.

Terpko said the officer's main goal would be to educate residents on how to recycle properly.

"The more you educate them, the better they will be at that," Terpko said.

The commission is pleased with the job BFI is doing collecting and disposing of the town's trash. They would like to see the company more selective in what it collects. BFI is capable of doing that, but it needs direction from the commissioners, who readily admit they haven't given that direction.

"When they (BFI employees) come to Thurmont, they shudder to get on that truck," Terpko said.

The reason is they don't know what type of trash awaits them. "Everything and their mother is on the curb to go into the trash and that's why we pay so much," Terpko said.

Bulk pick-up and yard waste also create an issue for recycling. The commissioners are considering a sticker program, but first "Mayor" Martin Burns said, "Let's try restricting it to maybe a certain time a month."

Recycling commission member Donna Bollinger warned town commissioners, "You've got to change or you're going to go under."

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