And now for our latest entry in the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished recognition: Columbia County's electronics recycling day.
It's a great example of how good intentions don't mean much when we fail to get what we expect.
By most accounts, Saturday's electronics recycling day was a big success.
I say "most," not all, because apparently quite a few were turned away. Some of them were upset. One, who sent an anonymous note, said he was threatened with a citation if he didn't retrieve the VCR that he had "heaved" to the top of a pile of recycled electronic equipment.
"I am one angry Columbia County citizen who expected Columbia County to accept my old electronics for recycling as advertised," he writes in an e-mail. "I needlessly stored them at my home for months, burned a gallon of gasoline for nothing, and was disrespected. From this day forward, my old electronics will go to the landfill."
Well, that'll show 'em.
Seriously, the employee to whom this fellow apparently spoke was Stacie Adkins. She remembers the conversation because she says the man was "extremely disrespectful" (apparently there's plenty of it going around). Adkins is Columbia County's community events coordinator.
As she correctly responds, the county is under no obligation to offer this service. These county employees could save their time, effort and grief and just let this fellow and all his neighbors throw their old equipment in the garbage in the first place.
Instead, Adkins and others saw a demand for such a service, so she worked with a recycler to pick up the material at no charge to the county. She coordinates a collection time and rounds up community volunteers to help with the workload. Citizens save a few things from going to the landfill, the recycler hauls it all off, everyone is happy.
Well, obviously, not everyone. It seems the event is a victim of its success.
On the first recycling day, one year ago, residents brought in 12 tons of electronics. At the second event, in March, residents dropped off 19 tons. Predicting the next response is a gamble; there's always a chance that everyone had emptied their attics with those 31 tons of material, and the next recycling day could get far less volume. If that happened, it would be hard to get that recycler to return next time if his trucks went home half-empty.
Adkins gambled that the response would continue to rise. Because the March collection filled two tractor-trailers with about 35 pallet-loads of recycled electronics, on Saturday the recycler brought three trucks, with enough capacity for about 45 pallets.
The gamble paid off - yet it still wasn't enough. The trucks were full long before the advertised 2 p.m. end. We don't know how many potential recyclers were turned away, but our anonymous writer says there were "dozens."
What's the solution? Well, other than the obvious need for everyone to just chill out and try to display a tad more patience and understanding, the overwhelming success of the event is a clear indicator that there still is tremendous demand.
And it shows that we have way too much junk stashed away.
To help meet the demand for free hauling of all that junk and to make up for all those folks turned away Saturday, Adkins has scheduled another visit from the recycler in three weeks. The trucks will return on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - or, it's important to note, until the trucks are full.
So, if the anonymous complainer hasn't trashed that VCR by then, he can drop it off at the government center Oct. 20. I'd suggest getting there early; these things are pretty popular, you know.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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