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Column: Recycling an old idea
boyum current 2021
Phil Boyum

    Ever have an unexpected comment move you to action?
    I recently asked a man whose opinion I respect very much how he thought, in my role of as city councilman, I was perceived by the community. “How am I doing?” and “What can I do better?” I asked him.
    He said the folks he knew saw me as a break from the typical councilman of the past 20 years. He said people notice I stay away from conflicts of interest, refuse to play favorites and just make the best decision for the benefit of the largest number of people. And he said I put the people in my district first while keeping in mind the entire city, county and greater community.
    “You’re Do-ing Right,” he joked, referring to my Erk Russel-inspired philosophy.
    Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good at that point.
    Then he said, “But … people sometimes don’t know where you stand.”
    That statement has been following me around for days. And I realized he was right.
    I have some large concepts I believe in and try to act on. I believe economic development is the best way to combat many social problems: crime, poverty quality of life. When people have their own income, their own money and their own purpose, they tend to be good neighbors and good citizens.
    I believe strongly in collaboration. We are in a global economy and in order to compete, we need to band together, work together and think bigger than our own individual capabilities and budgets.
    And I believe in listening to the citizens of the community when they ask for something. Sure, we have to prioritize and not all requests are feasible. But when they are possible, and when they are being demanded, we have an obligation to listen to the requests of the very people who fill the city coffers.
    This is why I am calling for the City of Statesboro to pick up where the county left off and continue voluntary curbside recycling for its citizens.
    I’ve read the county manager’s executive summary of curbside recycling and he’s got a lot of good points about the poor management, poor design and poor execution of the program. And he outlined three options to consider: permanent shutdown, expand convenience centers or reinstate voluntary curbside recycling.
    Before we simply accept his recommendation to go with option No. 1, first, we need to stop. Stop and realize the assessment is correct. We need a better design, better education and better execution.
    Part of the problem is that we have not had a director of Keep Bulloch Beautiful in over a year. There’s been an ongoing issue between the city and county over this position over who funds what and who is responsible for what. Whichever entity takes the reins, we need to get someone back into that position and out into the community as soon as possible.
    Then we need to collaborate. Since the recycling cans were awarded by a grant program — and since they are recycling bins after all — the county could give those to us to help jump start the program. Since they won’t be recycling anymore, they could give us the collection truck as well.
    Most importantly, we need to listen to the citizens who are requesting this service live on. Many on my Facebook page said they are willing to pay $50 annually or up to $5/month to keep the curbside program going.
    This is why, at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, I called for the city to officially start putting a voluntary curbside program together. The deputy city manager and the head of public works are already looking at some solutions, and Georgia Southern is helping out as well. It make take a few months to get off the ground since we certainly need to make sure the numbers work and we need to make sure it’s adequately staffed. However, I have full faith our staff can put a plan in place to get us up and running in 2016.
    One last point: the county manager’s report stated that voluntary curbside recycling could only be possible “if there is a public will to do so.”
    Only the citizens of Statesboro can tell us that.

    Phil Boyum is the District 1 Councilman for the city of Statesboro. He can be reached at 912.495.8820 or by email at
philboyum@gmail.com or online at www.Facebook.com/CouncilmanPhilBoyum.

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