(Chelsea Update would like to thank Frank Hammer and the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority for the information in this column.)
Reggie has been hunkered down for the winter, but is back with more news.
While he was gone, WWRA has made some changes.
Reggie last wrote about the departure of Phil Bolyard, the operations manager of nine years.
Today, Reggie highlights another big change, the departure of Frank Hammer as the Chair of the Board of Directors.
As a group of governmental entities, WWRA has a Board of Directors composed of one representative from each participating governmental unit. The board meets monthly, and determines policies, hires the operations manager, decides on major expenditures, and sets the budget for the year.
The representative from the City of Chelsea was Frank Hammer, who represented the city since WWRA began in 1991. For the past eight years, he has been selected as chair of the board by the board members. The city appoints its representative every January, and Frank surprised the city council by announcing in January that he was ready to leave the WWRA Board.
The city then appointed Jane Pacheco as the new representative, with Hammer serving as the alternate. The Board of Directors selected a new chair, Jason Maciejewski, from Dexter Township.
Here is a brief interview Reggie conducted with Frank, about his years on WWRA.
Reggie: It seems hard to imagine WWRA without Frank Hammer. What made you withdraw? Was it the salary?
Frank: LOL! The salary was exactly the same as when I started – $0!!! I never did this for the money, only for the good of the community. I felt the WWRA Board needed some new blood, and that Jane would support the long term goals and be a completely capable board member representing the city.
Reggie: What is the biggest change you have seen over the years at WWRA?
Frank: The improved efficiency and scale of collecting and sorting, especially since we moved to single stream. That moved us from about 850 households to about 1,900 households over the 18 months after we changed.
Reggie: What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment, over your 25 years?
Frank: Besides participating in WWRA’s initial establishment, seeing the public’s response and support for recycling. In 25 years, WWRA has become a $1 million operation, keeping 7,500 tons per year of recyclable material out of the landfills and natural environment.
Reggie: What is the biggest challenge you are leaving for the “new blood?”
Frank: Maintaining WWRA’s financial viability. The sale value of recyclables has dramatically decreased over the past couple of years. Paper use is greatly diminished as e-communication has increased; new plastic is cheaper to make with crude oil being so inexpensive; and glass is no longer a viable resalable product. All affect our income, while our expenses are still just as high.
Reggie: So what’s next for you?
Frank: I will still represent Chelsea’s interests in the Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee, which meets monthly to collaborate on how to better handle trash and recyclable material. Right now, we are intensively searching for new ways to keep glass out of the landfills, since there is no longer any market for it.
Reggie: Any closing thoughts?
Frank: I have enjoyed meeting every challenge over the years, and am intensely proud of the Chelsea area community for joining the effort that has made WWRA one of the premiere recycling operations in the state. And my own recycle bin will still be at the curb every week!
Reggie: Thanks, Frank, 25 times over for all you have done.