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Eastsound trash can project gets a boost

A steel prototype of how the garbage cans in Eastsound could be housed.  - Contributed photo
A steel prototype of how the garbage cans in Eastsound could be housed.
— image credit: Contributed photo

With grant money on the horizon, setting up trash cans for Eastsound is one step closer to fruition.

“Everyone wants to make the right decisions, so it may be slow going,” said Orcas Chamber Director Lance Evans. “I think it’s long overdue for Eastsound and our visitors. I am excited about it – as excited as one can be about garbage and recycling.”

The San Juan County Lodging Tax grant program designated $8,000 to pay for the initial cost of purchasing six cans. The county council has the authority to change that amount; it looks at the lodging tax committee recommendations in June.

“It’s not a done deal,” Evans said. “Until the county signs off, we can’t go ahead and plan on it.”

The grants are funded by a portion of the revenue collected under the state lodging tax. Around $350,000 in grant funds will be dispersed in early 2013.

The chamber, which is sponsoring the initiative, hopes to have a few of the garbage and recycling cans put up by mid-summer, as San Juan Sanitation has already pledged $1,000 towards the trash/recycle containers’ costs and some of the participating business will pitch for the monthly pick-up fee. The cost of garbage pick-up for one year is around $6500, an amount that has not yet been raised.

Ray’s Pharmacy owner Rick Hughes and fellow local business owner Jeff Hanson of Pawki’s have been the driving forced behind the project. They were spurred on by the efforts of Salmonberry Elementary School students, who noticed litter in Eastsound but couldn’t find public trash receptacles. They decided to learn about the cost of solid waste pickup and formed an organization called “Kids for the Environment through Litter Prevention.” In partnership with members of the Eastsound Planning Review Committee, these young activists offered to raise the funds for one week of garbage collection for six new cans in Eastsound.

Volunteers for the project also worked with San Juan County so designated business owners don’t have to apply for a right of way permit to put the cans in front of their store. Tentatively, the cans will be at Ray’s, Orcas Homegrown Market, Pawkis, Wally Gudgell’s new building, Cherie Lindholm Real Estate and between the public restrooms and the historical museum.

Evans says they are open to hearing about structure designs to cover the cans. Local blacksmith Jorgen Harle designed a steel unit that will hold the 33-gallon garbage and recycling containers. The requirements were that it had to last for 20+ years, have an angled roof, have small holes for disposal so people couldn’t fit home garbage in, and be heavy enough that it couldn’t be stolen. The metal sides were designed so that non-profits can put up promotions.

“We are willing to look at other designs but this is the only design that someone stepped forward with,” Hughes said. “We’d love public feedback … but I also want to get this project done.”

To submit a design or give suggestions on Harle’s prototype, which is available to see at Ray’s Pharmacy,  email Hughes at raysrx@centurytel.net.

“Our preference is to get it built locally on the island,” Evans said.

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