STUDENT PUTS CENTER ON SOLID GROUND

March 20, 2002 11:00 pm
ON SOLID GROUND: Elgins recycling center bins are now on a concrete surface. This makes the bins much easier to reach in the winter and early spring. (Laura Stauffer photo).
ON SOLID GROUND: Elgins recycling center bins are now on a concrete surface. This makes the bins much easier to reach in the winter and early spring. (Laura Stauffer photo).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

ELGIN People bringing items to Elgins recycling center now can wear sandals instead of hip waders.

The centers two bins are on a solid footing and out of the mud thanks to its new 56- by-27-foot concrete pad.

The pad is a credit to the efforts of Elgin High School senior Laura Stauffer. She rebuilt the recycling center for her senior project.

Before the work began, the centers bins were situated on dirt west of the Elgin Opera House. The site became a mud hole in the winter and spring.

More people are bringing materials to the center today because of the improved conditions, said Darin Larvik, operations manager for City Garbage Service in La Grande.

City Garbage operates Elgins recycling center. The bins are owned by Union County.

Larvik said that in previous years the pool of water at the site was almost large enough for stocking trout.

It was sitting in the middle of a giant mud puddle. You pretty much had to be a die hard (to use the recycling center). Nobody wanted to go over there, Larvik said.

He believes that many people threw recyclable items in the trash or brought them into the La Grande recycling center rather than use the Elgin site.

The renovated area also features a fence surrounding three sides of the center. The fence catches much of the debris that used to blow out of the bins to the back of the Opera House.

Stauffer reconstructed the recycling center with $3,009 in contributions and $5,000 worth of labor and time donated by professionals and volunteers.

Stauffer was moved by how supportive the community has been. She asked 44 businesses in Union County for donations and almost all made a contribution.

Stauffer also helped Union County obtain a $17,450 grant from the Department of Environmental Quality. The money will be used to purchase about five recycling bins for Union County sites. One of the bins will be added to Elgins center.

Stauffer helped Dara Decker, Union Countys emergency services manager and an assistant planner, obtain the DEQ grant.

Stauffer, who graduates this spring, worked closely with high school teacher Gary Bridgman and Elgin City Administrator Joe Garlitz. Bridgman was Stauffers adviser and Garlitz was her mentor.

Much of the work was done last summer.

Stauffer is interested in pursuing a career in public administration. The EHS seniors project brought praise from Larvik.

That was a big job that she took on. Im impressed, he said.

Stauffer said her favorite part of the project was making presentations about the recycling center to community groups. The response she received was heartening.

It helped to see that other people were also excited, Stauffer said.