Joseph loses county recycling bins

By Katy Nesbitt/The Observer July 22, 2013 11:10 am
JOSEPH — The City of Joseph has lost its recycling bins, again, and this time indefinitely. After repeatedly finding garbage in bins downtown and at the transfer station near the airport, Wallowa County has removed all recycling bins from the city.

Mayor Dennis Sands said he received a message from County Public Works that when they went to collect the recycling bins one of them had “tons of garbage” and they had to dump everything in the landfill. 

“That was the last straw,” Sands said.

Both locations — downtown and the transfer station — have had problems in the past, Sands said. 

“What I’m trying to do is get the county to let me know what date they dropped the empty bins — we have videos — so we could narrow the search down and hopefully we can find out who did it,” he said. “The county was taking the stance they aren’t bringing them back. I am going to have to have more dialog with the county. The thing that disappointed me is they didn’t give us a chance to solve the mystery, they just yanked them.”

Last fall, the county removed the downtown bins when garbage was repeatedly found at the site. The city installed cameras as a deterrent or, at least, to find the culprits if it happened again.

Sands said in the fall most of the problem was people setting garbage next to the bins like tires, batteries and sacks of garbage. 

“We thought if the word got out that we were filming it people would know, ‘They will see me.’”

Mike Hayward, Wallowa County Board of Commissioners chairman, said it takes time and money to sort through cardboard and remove garbage, but if the county employees don’t do that and the cardboard is bailed and sold to a company out of the area, they may refuse to take it.

“Somebody in Joseph was using them as a dumpster so when we were taking them to the recycle center it was full of garbage and that won’t work,” he said.

When the bins were returned this spring, Hayward said the county told the city they were going to have to monitor them.

“They are going to try and catch the culprit(s) so as not to penalize the whole city,” Hayward said. “That makes sense, so Dennis is going to go back and look at the video.”

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.