Derek Micah Armstrong

Derek Micah Armstrong

Here’s a joke for you: What’s the best thing to ever come out of Kentucky? I-75. Here’s another one: A tornado passed through Kentucky. It did $10 million worth of improvements.

In New England I occasionally heard snobbish comments about Kentucky; they often focused on how ignorant the people allegedly are. But I’m not telling you anything new. And the jokes might even get worse with the opening of a museum in northern Kentucky that teaches carbon dating is a myth made up by scientists and that humans lived with the dinosaurs.

But the worst joke of all is about the leaders of Laurel County who think recycling is a waste of time, energy and money.

Two weeks ago, county officials announced the recycling program will be trashed on June 30 because the five employees who work at the center will be laid off, along with nine other county employees.

“Soon, there may be plastic bags, newspapers and tin cans rolling along the highways, and perhaps a stray dog or two,” Willie Sawyers, publisher of The Sentinel-Echo, wrote in a column.

When I first heard the recycling program was getting thrown out, I was shocked, then disappointed, and finally, upset. For years I have broken down cardboard, including cereal boxes, washed jars and cans and neatly gathered loose papers to recycle. I love God and respect everything He has created, so recycling is an act of stewardship. But beginning July 1, I won’t be able to recycle.

Solid Waste Coordinator Jim Ed McDaniel said he needs at least two of the five men who are being laid off to keep the center operational. He also said, depending on the going rate, the recycling center earns between $15,000 and $40,000 a year.

Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.

Seeing how recycling is not a waste of time and money, it just doesn’t make sense that the magistrates are so willing to close the center. After all, the energy saved from recycling one aluminum can will run your TV for three hours and when you recycle one glass bottle, you save the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

So, here are three suggestions to keep the recycling center open.

First, cut spending and use the savings to keep at least two employees on the payroll. As Dean Manning suggested, one way to do this is for the magistrates and the judge-executive to cut their salaries. Our elected officials should be willing to step up to the plate and do what is best for the community, which includes finding a way to keep the recycling center open. That is why they were elected.

Another way to save money is to increase the amount county employees pay for health insurance. As Tara Kaprowy said, it seems excessively expensive for taxpayers to cover 100 percent of health care costs for county employees.

Second, ask for contributions to keep the center open. I hope area businesses and individuals would donate money if asked. If donations are needed, I’m willing to chip in. Just tell me where to send the check.

Third, set up the center so it can be operated by volunteers. I would be willing to sacrifice a few hours a month, if needed, and I’m sure many fellow recyclers would do the same thing.

We still have a month to save the recycling center and I hope residents of Laurel County rise up and fight the magistrates and their unwise decision. Write letters to The Sentinel-Echo voicing your opposition and demand it remains open.

“Take the advice of someone smart: Rage, rage, at the dying of the light,” Kaprowy wrote in her column two weeks ago.

Let’s not give others another excuse to joke at our expense. Being good stewards of what God has given us should be no laughing matter.

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