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Hot weather doesn't deter River Sweepers

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - This year's River Sweep was well-attended despite hot weather, according to Paul Alvey.

Reporting at a district board meeting July 24, the executive director for the Perry County Recycling Management District, lead local agency for the annual event, estimated nearly 80 people turned out July 19.

"We had incredible support from the community," Alvey said, despite its being "the hottest day of the year." It was "really nice" at 7 a.m., he recalled, "but by about 8, the breeze died down."

District employee Gloria Wahl said the cleanup is only scheduled for three hours, "but you'd be amazed at what can be picked up in three hours."

The volunteers "work their tails off," Alvey added.

Local contributions to the sweep are part of a larger effort that has volunteers comb more than 3,000 miles of Ohio River and its tributaries' shorelines for trash and debris each year.

Initially scheduled for June 21, the event was postponed for Perry County participants due to fluctuations in Ohio River levels.

Alvey said he also appreciated help provided by several city departments.

Some groups that adopt particular areas along the river have scheduled their cleanups for other days, he noted.

In other business, Alvey told board members a new baler is in use at the Cannelton site after workers there overcame "a lot of issues" that included electrical, mechanical and hydraulic problems. Now that they've been resolved, "it's a real smooth-running piece of equipment," he said. "We hope to get 15 years, at least, of use out of it."

The baler is used to compact and wire-wrap recyclable materials to increase transportation efficiency.

The board approved the advertisement of a proposed $380,000 budget for next year that includes a 5-percent raise for Alvey.

"We think Paul does a great job," district advisory board member Bill Amos said. "We put him in for a 5-percent increase."

"I sat down with the advisory board when they came up with this (budget)," board member Chet Mathena said. "They put their all into it; they scrutinized everything down to the penny."

"The rest of the county will probably get 1-percent (increases), if any," board member Gary Dauby, also a county commissioner, told Alvey. "You deserve 10."

Board member and Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing expressed reluctance at approving a budget with several members missing; county commissioners Jody Fortwendel and Don Sherry and Cannelton Mayor Smokey Graves were absent.

"I wish we had more of the board here," Ewing said. "We're responsible to the public. This is the first time we've seen the budget. I'd like to approve the permission to advertise only."

The board approved a motion to that effect.

Alvey said the increase in salaries overall is 3.2 percent in the proposed budget. Half his staff will be earning 3 cents more than minimum wage when it goes to $7.25 per hour next year, he noted. Under the federal Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, that hike will occur July 24, 2009, and follows a bump this month to $6.55.

"We can't afford to pay what surrounding counties pay," Amos said.

Board member and Tell City Councilman Gary Morton told Alvey he was "concerned with how dirty it is" at the Cannelton site. Saying he'd seen other trash transfer stations operated more cleanly, he noted, "there's too much stuff on the ground."

Alvey replied that in the previous three weeks, it had become 70 to 75 percent cleaner, but Morton pressed him further.

"Bottles stay on the ground and get walked over," he said. "I think it's filthy. It shouldn't look like that."

When a planned minor-construction project is completed at the site, "all that will go into a caged area," Alvey said.