Local News

North Platte city officials will delay any changes in the city’s recycling program for at least two weeks so its current processors can seek greater efficiencies together.

After a 40-minute City Council work session discussion Tuesday, Mayor Dwight Livingston pulled a proposed contract off the regular agenda that would consolidate all the city’s recycling processing under ABC Recycling of North Platte.

That firm, launched in 2014 by Pamela Pacheco with help from the city’s Quality Growth Fund, has handled most recycling materials in the city since previous provider Regional Recycling quit the local field in 2015.

But since ABC was just getting started then, Pacheco reminded council members, her firm has focused on serving area businesses and recycling trailers while DataShield Corp. and Firstar Fiber Corp. of Omaha processed collections from residential “yellow-top” containers.

She told city leaders at the time “we would work toward putting it under one roof,” Pacheco said.

Brian Gubbels, who owns both Omaha firms, told the council he wants to explore with city officials and Pacheco whether consolidation or collaboration best benefits the city and its seven-year-old recycling effort.

“I’m seeing a synergy of collaboration that can benefit all three companies,” Gubbels said. “So I just want to be at the table to make it successful for Pam.”

Pacheco and Public Service Director Layne Groseth, who initiated the review of the city’s recycling program, both endorsed having Gubbels join them and City Administrator Jim Hawks in further talks.

“We’ll continue to work together and look at those processes and even converse about the different markets we can go to” with North Platte’s recyclables, Pacheco said.

Groseth said ABC currently handles about 80% and the Omaha firms 20% of the approximately 120 tons of recyclables North Platte collects each year. DataShield currently operates the city-owned recycling baler and maintains the building it’s housed in.

The trio’s combined collection costs average about $80 per ton, Pacheco said, at the low end of the industry standard of $80 to $100 per ton. Consolidating processing under one roof could lower that to about $72 per ton, she said.

The city’s costs wouldn’t change under her proposal, she added, but her firm would spend about $25,000 to build a shelter, a storage trailer and a second baler and add two full-time employees to its current full- and part-time staff of 12.

“Recycling is necessary, and I think North Platte is too big to not recycle and do its contribution to saving (space in) the landfill,” Pacheco said.

Recycling markets have been quite volatile, she and Gubbels said, largely because China hasn’t imported U.S. recyclable materials for several years.

But “I see Pam is quite passionate and committed” to making North Platte’s recycling efforts work, Gubbels added.

During the council’s regular meeting, members gave unanimous blessings to a trio of projects recommended by the city’s Planning Commission at its May 21 meeting.

They included a new subdivision and conditional use permit to enable Terry and Nancy McNew to build a “mother-in-law’s quarters” on their land at 1605 N. Dodge Ave.

A rezoning ordinance to enable Brandon and Skye Seery to build a shop for personal use at 1302 N. Roosevelt Ave. won the council’s first-round approval. Up to two more votes will be held before final adoption.

The council also granted a conditional use permit for a Verizon Wireless cell tower at 521 N. Splinter Road, though site neighbor Jeanna Koubek cited her fears about negative health impacts on humans and animals from the tower’s transmissions.

A cattle feedlot is located near the site, and cranes and other migratory birds visit the area annually, Koubek said. “I just don’t think there’s been enough studies of whether these towers are harmful.”

Verizon representative Jeffrey Skinner of Waukee, Iowa, said that the company operates under federal safety standards and has received clearance for the latest tower from a variety of affected federal, state and local offices.

The Splinter Road tower will serve cellular traffic on North Platte’s western edge and along Interstate 80 but is mainly intended to relieve signal congestion for customers at Bailey Yard, Skinner said.

In other business, the council:

» Voted to start its June 18 regular meeting at 5:30 p.m., two hours earlier than normal, to avoid a conflict with that evening’s Nebraskaland Days events.

» Approved a four-year lease agreement with U.S. Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance for long-term financing of two refurbished street sweepers that the council approved May 21.

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