The meeting came on the heels of two recent events, a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day at the Tri-State Exhibition Center and the group’s annual Solid Waste Breakfast at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
At the biannual collection day, the group saw a much lower turnout than they had been accustomed to seeing. The event, which allows Bradley County residents to drop off household chemicals and other potentially hazardous items for free, is funded by the Bradley County government.
Executive Director Joanna Maskew said the group has in the past seen people from as many as 800 different households either dropping off or having someone else drop off items. The most recent event saw fewer than 200.
“When you get 160 ... it’s disappointing,” she said. “It was bad.”
Board President Shari Horton said it cost the county about $40,000 or $50,000 to have the waste professionally hauled away. At the same time, the county mayor’s office allegedly opted against spending $2,000 to print fliers to be handed out around town and mailed out with Cleveland Utilities bills.
Horton said the lack of advertising partially accounted for the low turnout, though she said some event participants had in the past expressed their displeasure over the amount of time some have had to spend waiting to have volunteers help them unload their waste.
The group had 12 volunteers working at the most recent event to cut down on wait times, but not all of them stayed busy.
“That’s a lot of manpower to go to waste,” Horton said.
Another hazardous waste collection event is tentatively being planned for the fall, and the board plans to discuss ways to attract more attendees.
During the Solid Waste Breakfast, attendees heard from Cleveland City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff and Energy Education Specialist Paul Ramsey. Both discussed the city school system’s efforts to manage the amount of energy used in its buildings.
Maskew said the talk piqued the interest of attendees, and many asked later if the Bradley County School system had a similar energy program. It does, and she said the group should try to educate the public about all the local efforts being made to save energy.
The group also made plans for some upcoming events. While some like a pancake breakfast fundraiser are still in the works, there are at least three events planned for the month of April.
There will be a “Treasure-N-Trash” cleanup event on April 5 from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will meet at the corner of Refreshment Drive and Westland Drive, and supplies and refreshments will be provided.
The group will also take part in Cleveland State Community College’s “It’s All About the Green” event focusing on environmental issues. That will take place at the college on April 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Another group cleanup event will take place along the Greenway and Mouse Creek. Volunteers can gather at the Mohawk entrance to the Greenway, behind Home Depot, on April 26 at 9 a.m. The cleanup is expected to last until 1 p.m.