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New downtown recycling trailer already deemed a success
Michael Burress, Sunflower Diversified Services client, unloads cardboard collected in the new recycling trailer.
Gaila Demel, United Way of Central Kansas executive director, and her husband, Maurice, recycle cardboard at the new drop-off site downtown.

The community’s reaction to the new downtown recycling drop-off site has already exceeded expectations.

Organizers had anticipated unloading the trailer twice a month. But it is filling up quickly and the timetable has been moved up to accommodate the amount of collections at 18th and Williams.

The trailer was the brainchild of the Barton County Young Professionals (BCYP). “Many of our members had voiced their desire for more recycling opportunities. And Sunflower Diversified Services and the city of Great Bend made it happen,” said Megan Hammeke, steering committee chair. “We are so excited to have this new addition downtown and we support all city and Sunflower recycling efforts.”

The project began a few months ago when BCYP members sat down with representatives of Sunflower, the city of Great Bend and Barton County Landfill to discuss the future of recycling in Great Bend. The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting was held Dec. 19.

“This is an important project because recycling protects the environment and preserves resources we use every day,” Hammeke said. “Many in our group are just starting families and want their children to grow up with bright futures and all the amazing resources this earth has to offer. Recycling allows us to have a voice in that.”

Kendal Francis, city administrator, had high praise for BCYP’s foresight in initiating this project.

“The young professionals wanted to be part of the solution,” Francis said. “The communication between their group, the city and Sunflower was great. We could all sit down, collectively think about it and take the appropriate action.”

After talking with BCYP and Sunflower, Francis followed through by taking the idea of a downtown drop-off site to the Great Bend City Council. After it learned the details, the vote was unanimous to buy the trailer.

“This is just a really good thing for the community as a whole,” Francis commented. “Recycling is gaining momentum and we wanted to take this next step.

“Just as important,” Francis continued, “the drop-off site is providing jobs for Sunflower clients with developmental disabilities and delays. And it was a good move on the city’s part regarding the environment and our quality of life.”

The city administrator also voiced a few words of caution. “We hope the community embraces and respects this project. It is not here to become an eyesore and detract from the community. All of us appreciate the community’s cooperation.”

Francis also noted that Debbie McCormick, Sunflower director of marketing, should be commended for finding the trailer at minimal cost to the city. A new 18-foot trailer would have cost up to about $18,000.

“Debbie began putting out feelers and found this gently used trailer for $6,000. This was $1,500 less than anticipated at first,” Francis said.

McCormick agreed that it “was a heckuva buy. We were in the right place at the right time. We are extremely grateful to the young professionals and the city in our efforts to create jobs for people with disabilities and save space at the landfill. We are creating a greener community.

“All of us hope that people who don’t normally think about recycling are attracted to his new, visible location,” McCormick added.

The trailer is available 24/7. Accepted items are: plastic bottles; milk jugs; glass; newspapers; and magazines. In addition, the trailer has a large slot for cardboard, which can be broken down and slid into the trailer.

Office paper also is accepted but will not go through the confidential-shredding process; that service is still offered at Sunflower Recycling, 5523 10th, where all services remain the same.

Sunflower, a non-profit agency, is in its 53rd year. It serves infants, toddlers and adults with developmental disabilities and delays in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.