Starting this weekend, Keep Columbus Beautiful will be hosting functions to allow Platte County residents to safely dispose of hazardous and/or rubber items.
The first will be a household hazardous waste event set to run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot at Ag Park, 822 15th St.
Hazardous waste includes old, unwanted chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizer or Raid spray. Paint can also be disposed of as well. There is a limit of 10 cans of paint per vehicle.
“It’s a good way for people to get rid of some of that old stuff that are either expired or they inherited it for some odd reason, like a house that they bought or from parents passing away,” said Vanessa Oceguera, executive director of Keep Columbus Beautiful.
“It’s really hard to get rid of (it) any other way in town because you can’t throw a lot of that stuff away in your garbage. We don’t really have a facility here that handles hazardous waste, so it’s just beneficial to bring someone from the outside in to haul it all away.”
Items that will not be accepted are oil, Sharps, needles, PCBs, cylinder tanks and radioactive waste.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hazardous waste function will still look similar to typical events. People shouldn't expect it run any differently than in the past.
“Truly no, not a whole lot because we have masks and gloves because … of what we’re handling as far as chemicals. It’s not going to look a whole lot different,” Oceguera said. “It’s usually a drive-through service – people are driving and they don’t actually have to get out of their vehicles. We unload the back end.”
It's an event people appreciate, she noted.
“We try to host this event annually … we have to write a grant for it so it’s not always guaranteed for these events. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the ones we do have,” Oceguera said, noting that other hazardous waste facilities are county-run, so this event is the closest alternative for the Columbus area.
Around 30 volunteers, as well as a couple of employees from the chemical company, help out during the event.
Columbus resident Bob Voboril is one of those volunteers. He actually started Keep Columbus Beautiful in 1988.
“I (had) seen there was a need for it. Other communities, like Omaha and Lincoln, were doing it. Our idea at that particular time was to beautiful Columbus as much as possible,” he noted. “… (it’s grown) way beyond my expectation.”
Voboril is still involved in the organization and, according to Oceguera, can often be seen at waste drop off and recycling events.
“They don’t want me to drop out,” he joked. “(I) have too much knowledge, I guess.”
Additionally, a scrap tire collection will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 3 and from noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 4, also at Ag Park.
“That is basically a weekend where we accept old, used tires, rubber products – sometimes that means tubes. I’ve had people bring in rubber mats before from a playground area,” Oceguera said.
She stressed that residents should only drop off old tires during those specific times as Keep Columbus Beautiful needs to keep track of all the items to ensure they stay within their budget. They are unable to lock down the area, Oceguera said.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to hold one almost every year. There’s been a couple of years that we weren’t able to,” Oceguera said. “Last year was pretty large. I think people had a lot of tires that probably didn’t belong to them because of the flood that happened last year.”
She estimated that both events will see a large turnout as people have been doing a lot of cleaning due to quarantining during the pandemic. The events usually see a good crowd even without COVID.
“In (past years), we’ve been a little more relaxed; we were able to take some from out-of-county. This year, with the budget being so strict, we’re strictly open to Platte County,” Oceguera noted.
Voboril expressed the importance of Keep Columbus Beautiful’s impact on the community.
“It’s a way to clean up our community and so forth. I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have an organization like this,” Voboril said.
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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