Hopkins County receives three grants for clean up projects

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 5, 2008 - Hopkins County Monday received about $59,000 in Solid Waste Advisory Committee Grants for three clean up projects, which will help continue education, community clean up and enforcement efforts to make the county a more environmentally friendly and compliant place to live and work. The funds are a portion of $105,000 designated by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to Ark-Tex Council of Governments to be distributed among applicants in the area it serves.

"That says a lot for the county and action. There are nine counties the Texas region. It speaks highly of [Environmental Quality Officers] Jerry Pierce and Holly Rosamond and everyone interested in doing the programs," said ATCOG Environmental Resource Planner Paul Prange, who presented the grants for the county judge during the monthly Hopkins County Beautification Committee meeting being conducted at the courthouse.

The county will receive $15,000 in grant funds to help with the cost of a mulch chipper and trailer to help dispose of limbs and debris from fallen trees. The equipment will allow for safe disposal of the timber. It will be especially helpful following storms, and during times when burn bans prohibit and dry conditions make dangerous burning of tree limbs and such waste, necessitating storing up of the materials or cost of hauling them to a landfill, according to Prange.

The Ark-Tex COG planner also noted that Hopkins County may also be able to utilize, when needed, the city of Deport's chipper to assist with such efforts, as that city's size doesn't often require as much use as larger more rural, populace areas such as Hopkins County.

Hopkins County was also awarded a $9,056 grant for education and public outreach, which will include such efforts as flyers and information to be distributed at events, functions and schools. Only about $25,000 was allocated by TCEQ through ATCOG for those purposes. 

The third Solid Waste Grant, for $34,815 was for the annual county collection project, which this year will include two recycling components in addition to the usual dumpsters located in each of the four county precincts for collection of large household trash and materials which cannot generally be easily disposed of alongside usual household trash. Dumpsters for the county cleanup efforts this year will be provided by an Oklahoma facility, so all waste collected will be taken out of state for disposal. Scrap metal and old used tires will also be set aside this year for recycling purposes. The tires will be picked up from the collection site by a license tire hauler from Paris, who will then take them to Ada, Okla., to be ground and used for other purposes there.

These and other grants are awarded annually, provided all terms are met. The funding will be awarded upon ATCOG receiving receipts and quarterly progress reports on each project.

Prange stayed for the remainder of the Hopkins County Beautification Committee's monthly meeting, answering questions about availability of funding for other projects such as recycling of paper, plastic and aluminum cans by schools, cities and counties; what actions can be taken to begin lobbying efforts for plans to reduce potential mercury contaminations from fluorescent lights, which will be required in homes in a few years and old TVs as people upgrade to the new required systems to receive broadcast next year; how to expand education efforts at the school and community levels; and composting at the community and school levels. The ATCOG planner noted that grants area available for a number of things, and links can be found online regarding what's available. He also agreed to do research on some of the issues and report back some plausible options or suggestions.

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