On Monday, February 4th, Ballinger city manager Tommy Turney and recycling program coordinator Jack Watkins received a $14,300 grant from the West Central Texas Council of Governments (WCTCOG). The executive director of WCTCOG, Tom K. Smith, environmental program manager Doug Burke and environmental program coordinator PJ Sumner were on hand to present the approval letter.

  “This is money is going to go towards purchasing trailers for the cardboard recycling program. The cardboard recycling will jumpstart the overall recycling program. Cardboard is the usually what people start with because it’s the easiest to recycle and to pick up,” Watkins said after the city was present with the grant approval.

  At the WCTCOG, Burke works under the USDA and Sumner works under the TCEQ which means that even though they work for the WCTCOG, their positions are funded by grants from the respective agencies. Overall the WCTCOG works with 55 cities in 19 counties, “The region we cover is half of the size of the state of Indiana,” Burke points out. “The program added two new cities this year; Ballinger and Cisco,” Burke added. Cisco was awarded a $14,000 grant. TCEQ and USDA supply the grant money and it’s awarded by the WCTCOG. The city is then given notification if they’re awarded the grant. After that the city purchases the equipment needed for the recycling project and hands in the receipts to the WCTCOG who reimburses the city. The grant year ends on August 31st but cities can reapply for the grant each year.

  Turney and Watkins have their eyes set on the future because eventually they want to purchase a tire shredder, “Tires are expensive because there is only one place in Texas that accepts them.” Watkins says. First the city will start with the cardboard and gradually step up from there to mixed paper and eventually copy-quality paper, “The cardboard recycling program will eventually help pay for recycling other materials,” Watkins adds.

  Watkins says that the city wants to purchase 10 caged trailers and he already has locations planned out to place them, “I want to put 2 at the high school, 2 at the junior high, 1 by 8th street for the businesses, 1 by Allsups on Hutchings, 1 by Stripes and 1 by Sonic. The goal is a 40% source waste reduction. That is our 3-5 year plan.”

  The city has also applied for road repair grants and hired a grant administration firm to help seek out more grants. The steps are going in the right direction with getting funding for much-needed programs and repairs around the city. This recycling grant is just the first step in what will eventually become a journey to having a recycling program for all materials, including plastics and tires.