July 17, 2002 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Twice-monthly curbside recycling of household items will begin in La Grande in about six weeks.

The city council, under state law to require at least monthly curbside recycling of such items as newspapers, magazines, mixed paper, tin and plastic, opted for the every-other-week concept as the most logical alternative. The recyclables will be commingled into one roll cart for each garbage service customer.

Under the adopted plan, residents will still have the option of having garbage collected weekly, every other week or monthly.

The council adopted increased rates to cover the curbside recycling program and to cover an anticipated increase to the dumping fees charged to the hauler by the county for the Fox Hill Landfill.

The new monthly rates, with increase over the old rates in parenthesis, will be as follows:

• Weekly garbage service — $15.70 per month ($5.20 increase).

• Every-other-week — $13.15 per month ($4.65 increase).

• Monthly — $10.54 per month ($4.29 increase).

Senior citizens who qualify for reduced city water rates can continue their monthly garbage service for $6.54, an increase of 29 cents over what they pay now.

Darin Larvik of City Garbage Service, which has the franchise in La Grande, said the company would be able to deliver roll carts to customers in about six weeks. They will come with a packet of information explaining the program, he said.

Rates will go into effect when the customers get the carts, he said.

La Grande has been exempted from curbside recycling required of cities of 4,000 population or more because it had an alternative program — the depot recycling center on Willow Street and a yard-debris disposal program.

Those alternative programs will continue, as will expanded education and promotion about recycling.

The Willow Street depot eventually will be closed, but people will be able to take household recyclables to the Materials Recovery Facility on Highway 30.

In addition, the state is requiring expansion of the commercial recycling program to include glass, tin cans and other items as well as requiring commercial food waste generators to participate in the composting program.

The new recycling carts will be the same 60-gallon size as the present green garbage cans but be a different color, Larvik said. He said that for people who choose to have their garbage collected every other week, the recyclables will be collected at the same time.