I’m not sure how a full year has passed since I took over the reins of the WMEA Program. It’s been a whirlwind of learning about recycling in general and how we, as Paulding County residents, contribute specifically to keeping material out of landfill.

One of the highlights has been all the great people I’ve met. Recyclers are a passionate bunch and there are a lot of you in the County. It’s always fun to get in quick visits at the Payne/Junction/Latty pickups. Candace Feehan and Jenn Zartman at the grain elevator in Antwerp (I have to weigh all my loads) always have a smile and greeting for me as I zip through several times a week. Meeting the kids and teachers that run the program and process the material at the school level has really been fun as well. All the way from our kids at Ann’s Bright Beginnings to the teenagers at our high schools, I look forward to being able to get back to making presentations for them, once we have the Covid cases under control. It’s been very gratifying to see the level of understanding that our students already have with regard to the importance of recycling. That is a direct result of the outstanding job that my predecessor, Becky Suvar, did in educating our kids and grandkids. The teachers and administration lead by example as evidenced by the volume of material I pick up each week.

 I’m going to list learning how to drive big trucks that pull big trailers as a highlight as well. I’m not sure the guys at our County Engineer’s office would classify it that way! I buzz all over the County driving “Big Red” and have gotten very comfortable with how a 15-passenger van operates and I’ve even become quite adept at backing it up into sometimes tight spaces. The same can definitely not be said for driving the F-350 that pulls the 26’ trailer. It is with fear and trepidation that I respectfully exit the Engineering Compound 3 times a month driving what I refer to as “The Beast”.  I rarely go over 50 mph when driving it and normally take an extra blood pressure pill on those days. You DO NOT want to be behind me on SR 111, eastbound, on the 3rd Wednesday of the month between the hours of 12 and 2 PM. My forward speed is directly proportionate to the size of the ditch that is next to me. As a result, because those ditches are really big, 40 mph is about all I can confidently achieve as I hurtle toward my Junction pickup. It’s with a sigh of relief that I re-enter the driveway leading back to safety after completing the Junction and Latty pickups. I’m still learning how to hook up/unhook the truck from the trailer and at the rate I’m going I suspect I’ll be nearing retirement before I achieve that very pesky chore. I’m considering a backup camera but I have my doubts even with that assistance, that my dream of becoming a confident, competent “big rig’ driver will be accomplished. I have to be realistic…

 Even with that frustration, I mean highlight, I am loving this job. I actually consider it a calling. Abby Hornish, (Branch Manager, Union Bank) put it quite well one day. I was rushing out the door and they (Union Bank employees) had some recycling for me. I thanked them for recycling and Abby said, “saving the planet one box at a time” and I completely agree with her. That’s exactly what we’re doing. Every plastic container (1’s and 2’s only) every aluminum or steel can, every piece of cardboard, newspaper or magazine that we keep out of landfill means that we are doing our part to help keep the environment clean, and yes, save the planet for our kids and grandkids. You, the residents of Paulding County, in the grand scheme of things, are making a huge contribution to the whole. I’m so proud to be part of what we’re accomplishing together.

 I do have some updates for you. The Grover Hill/Haviland pickup is being moved to the second Saturday of January (so it will be January 9th) for the month of January only. The Paulding Fairgrounds pickup will remain on the first Saturday, January 2nd.

 The Junction/Latty pickups remain the 3rd Wednesday of the month. There was an error on the website that caused some confusion but that is being updated. If there is ever a question just call me at the office 419-399-3630 for the most up-to-date information or my cell number is 832-444-4814. Texting is actually the quickest way to get in touch with me because most of the time I’m out recycling. I try to get into the office once a day to check messages. If it’s a time sensitive issue, definitely call me on my cell.

 Glass can be taken to Van Wert Solid Waste at no charge. It must be glass that contained either a food material (sauerkraut, mustard, olives, etc.. or a consumable beverage (alcohol, water, OJ, etc..)

The containers must be rinsed out. At this time, Paulding County is NOT taking any glass. Erie Recycling and Kohart’s Salvage do not take it either. Bryan Recycling will also take clear and brown glass. Always call before going over to  check for times and any fees. Right now they don’t charge for taking glass but things are very fluid. Their number is 419-636-3382

 Fluorescent bulbs can be taken to Menard’s in Defiance and they process them from that location at no charge. Any size will be accepted. I took 400# of bulbs over one day which caused some excitement but they got me unloaded and back on the road pretty quickly.

 TV’s, including flatscreen and the old kind can be taken to the following facilities. There is a charge so always call for their hours and fees before you head out.

Van Wert Solid Waste 419-238-7767. They charge .37/lb for tube tv’s and .20/lb for flatscreen

Best Buy/Fort Wayne 260-471-5501.

Recycling Advantage/Fort Wayne 800-706-9941 They charge between $30-40 depending on type

Omni Source/New Haven 260-422-6914

 Paint and oil products

 Call or email me. shannon@pauldingcountywmea.com

Office: 419-399-3630

Cell: 832-444-4814

 Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone, and let’s all believe that 2021 is going to be SO MUCH BETTER than 2020!!

 Shannon Ruschel/WMEA Program Director