For several years now, Haywood has been the only county in the region that does not recycle glass. According to recently hired Solid Waste Director Stephen King, the main reason is that the county’s recycling system is not set up in a way that makes recycling glass economical. Residents put all their recyclables in one bag, and then that refuse is dumped onto a conveyor and the recyclables separated. More often than not, the glass breaks and is unable to be separated.
King, of course, is not to blame for a system he inherited, but we hope he realizes what many county residents have been saying for years — the county’s explanation for not recycling glass is weak. There are a number of ways to get around this problem, the easiest being to set up a glass receptacle at each of the convenience centers. Space is blamed as part of the problem, but surely there is adequate space at half of the convenience centers. Residents who now haul their glass out of the county would surely go a few extra miles in Haywood to recycle glass.
In Macon County, where King used to work, glass makes up 20 percent of the waste stream. That means that in five years of recycling glass, one year is added to the life of the landfill. At today’s landfill prices, that’s a significant savings for taxpayers.
Not only is it economical to recycle glass, it is one of those things that just needs to be done. Given today’s world — one of diminishing resources, the loss of open spaces, a growing pollution problem — local governments need to take every reasonable measure to encourage best practices by its citizens. Right now Haywood County is setting a bad example, and it is out there all alone in doing it.
Marketing pays off at recreation center
Speaking of ideas that are long overdue, the Waynesville Recreation Center’s new emphasis on marketing and new programming is already paying dividends. This first-class facility needs leaders who think more like entrepreneurs than government employees if it is to succeed, and that is exactly what it finally has.
The town hired Rhett Langston last summer to take over for retiring Mike Smith. Langston’s background is in marketing and sports management, and when he was hired town officials hoped that this experience would pay off in increased revenue. In February, typically a down month for businesses throughout the mountains, the Waynesville Recreation Center brought in $58,206 in revenue, one its best months ever.
How’s it happening? There are many reasons, but a few seem obvious. Langston has changed hours to better fit members’ desires. He has initiated a host of new programs, including providing volunteers free short-term memberships. He is marketing the recreation center through timely news releases to local media, a quarterly programming guide, and an e-newsletter that members can sign up for to learn about new and existing classes and programs.
Even simple measures — like opening a snack bar that had been closed since soon after the facility opened — makes the center a better place to visit.
When Waynesville took the controversial step of investing in a multi-million dollar recreation center, many doubted it could compete against Haywood Regional Medical Center’s existing fitness center. While the two facilities share many amenities, the major difference is Waynesville’s commitment to providing a place for children and teens. It has been succeeding at that since it opened.
For years and years, people like Bob Brannon — who chaired the task force that helped convince town leaders of the need for the rec center — and many others fought against naysayers by saying that a facility like this could become the centerpiece of Waynesville’s investment in a unique quality of life for its citizens. That vision was right on target, and Langston’s skill at marketing is helping to prove those supporters right.