Spring Cleanup on the Connecticut River

 

Eons before European settlers ventured north up the Connecticut River in the mid-Eighteenth, native American peoples revered and visited a location below the “Great Falls” in what today is Walpole.   People like the Iroquoian tribes of Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida and Algonquian people such as the Penacook and Massachusetts may have ventured this far east and north, respectively, to engage the salmon and shad running in the thousands up the river to the Falls and beyond. There was time to plant corn, beans and squash for the summer sojourn before the return west, south and, for the more recent Abenaki, north. Both the land and the waters were of the Connecticut were considered sacred in their bounty, including the miraculous springs named for the Abenaki. Interment of deceased persons in this sacred area was considered an honor.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. Early this spring concerns were raised by regional descendants of those native peoples about conditions at the Great Falls.   Members of an inter-tribal group, known as the Raven/Wolf Clan, approached Paul Colburn, manager of the Walpole Recycling Center, to inquire if assistance might be available to engage and improve the situation with a spring cleanup. The Clan sought solutions in a collaboration with local people. Paul engaged other town officials and citizens as to how this might go forward. A planning meeting was held at town hall on April 2 and the effort was “on”.

May 7 was the date chosen by the collaborative team, led by Anashownee DeMar of the Clan and Paul Colburn. A dozen people were present, representing both the Clan and townspeople. At the end of the day 483 pounds of flotsam and waste were collected in 49 trash bags. Bob Martyr, filling in for vacationing Paul Colburn, coordinated the pickup and separation of the waste materials into recyclables back at the Recycling Center with staff.

Concerns continue about the use of and care for the area. Investigations with other interested parties–such as Trans-Canada Corporation, the local utility which care takes the shoreline, Town of Walpole, and the Connecticut River Watershed Council, a non-profit organization based in Greenfield, MA, will continue. Topics to be pursued are those such as access to the area, improved signage, safety issues and the like.

Donna Drouin

Help Clean Up Our Roadways April 23, 2016

clean up day 2016
The Clean Up Day is Saturday, April 23rd (the week of Earth Day).  We meet at the TRANSFER STATION (not the Town Hall, as in previous years) at 8:00 AM.  The volunteers will be provided hot coffee and delicious donuts from Joanie Joan’s Baked Goods (yum@).  They will also be given blue bags and maps of streets in Walpole, Drewsville and North Walpole for picking.
All come back to the Transfer Station at 11:00, and prizes will be awarded for categories like ‘Most Collected’, ‘Most Unusual’, ‘Heaviest’, etc.   It’s a fun day, and great for families or groups.
If anyone has any further questions, they can call Tara Sad at 756-4861.

WRAP Report, March 2016

The Compost Is Coming!
by Joe Beer

For those of you who are excited about compost, and who wouldn’t be, there are about 150 cubic yards of compost just about ready for sale. Once the weather begins to act like spring, the compost will need to be screened and then it will, indeed, be ready to go. A small pickup load will cost about $10.00 and a large pick load about $20.00. Naturally the price includes the loading. The sale of the compost is more of a community service than a money maker; the center needs only to recoup its expenses. Once the recycling center has sorted out its costs, the final prices for the compost will be set. Given past history, the entire allotment of compost will be sold out before too long, so keep an ear to the compost.

Also coming soon will be a sign diagramming the proper traffic pattern for dropping off yellow bags and recycling materials. Occasionally, even in the midst of traffic, a customer will pull a U-turn from the compactor over to the recycling bays. A bit of a head scratcher there, but it happens. An equally troublesome maneuver involves backing up across traffic from the compactor to the bays. One accident ensued from such risky driving and there are always a number of close calls with arch looks. Good thing road-rage hasn’t made it to the Recycling Center, yet. The recycling folks will be asking us, if there is any traffic, to take a spin around the island rather than to fight across traffic to get from the compactor to the bays or vice versus. Thank you for helping with this.

The new face at the Center belongs to Wayne Croteau, a Walpole resident. Wayne, who was hired about two months ago, has been a volunteer in the past and is quickly on his way in getting up to recycling speed. Say hi to Wayne.

On a final note, don’t be shy, readers. Come on down to the Recycling Center. We like nothing more than welcoming new volunteers. Most volunteers work a two hour shift at the recycling bays, but there are other community service opportunities available. You can stop in at the Center to inquire; or give a call: 445-5197; or send an email: transfer@myfairpoint.net; or visit the web site to get the scoop: https://walpolerecycling.com.

 

WRAP Report, Feb 2016

W.R.A.P. Report by Carolyn Norback

While preparing my W.R.A.P. report for February, 2015, I was struck by the similarity of the weather conditions of 2014. A polar vortex x2 happened and is now on the verge of being the same for 2015. Now we are asking the question, why do we continue to live in New England? Here are a few reasons: 1) We don’t like to admit defeat, (we’re tough); 2) No need to hunt for conversation starters (everyone wants to talk about the weather); Provides the answer to “cold enough for you” and the excuse to repeat that old “saw, if you don’t like weather now, wait 5 minutes”. Not to beat a dead horse, yes it is very cold, but here at the recycle center we volunteers and staff are toasty warm. We owe all this delicious comfort to the wise stewardship of Paul Coburn and his staff by reusing oil brought to the center to keep heating expenses down to about $70.00/year.

So even though Jack Frost is out and about, I am still very enthusiastic about volunteering at the center. The 2 hours always fly by. Since I’m mostly there early Tuesday morning, sometimes we start slow, but then traffic builds up and we can hardly keep up with counting cars. Yes, every truck, van, car and suv is counted, so the select board knows how useful and busy the center is. With holiday parties and celebrations the center is up to the elbows with products to recycle. Many thanks and kudos to those separating refundables, makes sorting plastic, glass and aluminum containers go faster. FYI, if you’re not sure about where to look on the container to see if it refundable, the plastic and glass bottles (beer, wine, soda, water and sometimes juice) can be found somewhere near the label, sometimes on the side or bottom, and sometimes they may be hard to see. The aluminum cans are usually found on the top near the tab, and any volunteer and staff will be happy to point it out. If your loyal to a brand that is refundable and has VT stamped on it, makes it much easier for you also. Any can plastic or glass container is refundable as long as VT is stamped on it along with other states. Of course we have lots of volunteers who will take California refundables to California, not so much to Maine this time of year. Oh, yes the caps, please try to remember to remove them from the container and deposit them in your yellow Walpole trash bags. There is always room for more volunteers on the schedule. Sign up if you fancy a friendly, warm and welcoming environment in which to give back to the community.

WRAP Report by Joe Beer

Joe Beer sent along this WRAP report for Oct/Nov 2015

You might not see many kids out volunteering at the recycling center, but they are there, little
swarms of them. Every year a new cohort of Santa’s helpers, so to speak, sets about collecting and
sorting a sizable stream of recyclables that would otherwise be headed for landfills, with a stop at
your pocketbook along the way.

Santa’s invisible helpers are hiding out in the hallways of your local schools. They haven’t
always been there, but in 2010, with a little help from Mike Lewis of the school district and the staff at
the Walpole Recycling Center, the district begin a full-fledged recycling program in all four attendance
areas.

Each attendance area is some what different, but for the most part, 5th graders, except at the
high school of course, collect and sort the usuals of glass, paper and plastics. These are stored in
boxed trailers and are delivered to the Walpole Recycling Center on about a weekly basis. Of course,
this results in an additional savings for Walpole, as about 15 – 20 tons of recyclable materials are
added to Walpole’s annual output.

The recycling program produced an immediate savings for the school district of over $20,000 in
money it was spending to get rid of its trash. Nothing wrong with that. One of those win-win situations, though you could add on two more wins there: one for the environment which has 20 fewer tons of refuse to absorb and one for the young kids who learn something about preserving their planet.

There are a few offsetting costs to the program, but those are very minor. The district had to pay
for four boxed trailers, some recycling bins, and the time it takes for the weekly round up of the
trailers. In the main, the district now saves quite a bit of money every year by recycling so much of its
trash.

In the few short years since it began, the district recycling program has earned at least three
separate awards. Mike Lewis, Dori Ferreira in Alstead, and Sean Bordeur-Stevens in Charlestown
have all been recognized for their efforts by the NRRA, the principal recycling agency in the
northeast.

So, even though we can’t really see them, thank you to all the little helpers of the Fall Mountain
school district.

 

WRAP Report

Charles Blount sent along this WRAP report for September, 2015.

W.R.A.P.

Walpole Recycling Action Project

Summer (and school vacations) are coming to an end. So are many of the activities that demand our time all summer long. We’re home from the beach, and back from that trip out to Minnesota to see Grandma.

It’s that time of year when we slow down to think about what we would like to do next. What can we do that would provide the greatest value for our family, our friends, and our town. Some of us are already helping the Friends of the Walpole Library sort through hundreds (perhaps thousands) of books in preparation for the annual book sale now scheduled for late October.

Others are helping to teach our Walpole grade-schoolers how to play soccer. Not too many years ago a six-year-old in our family was running up and down the school field wearing a red Walpole shirt.

There are other activities here in our town that are in need of our help and support. One that immediately comes to mind, is the Walpole Re-Use Center, located out on Route 123 (Whitcomb Road) on the way to Drewsville, on the grounds of the Walpole Recycling Center. That operation, run exclusively by volunteers, provides an exchange for the things you no longer need but are in good condition and can readily be Re-Used. There are events in our lives, and in the lives of our neighbors here in Walpole, in which sudden needs arise. You, or a friend, falls and breaks a hip – now you have a sudden need for a walker. You don’t happen to have one to use for yourself or to lend to a friend. So, where do you go to find one? The Re-Use Center, of course. The cost to you? An affordable donation to the Food Shelf. So you get the walker you really need while some family here in our town gets food that they really need.

Another “event:” You are just setting up housekeeping in your new apartment here in Walpole. You have a few pots and pans, plates, cups and enough silverware to meet your daily needs. Then you get a message from your sister, advising that she will be coming to spend a week with you in beautiful Walpole during Leaf Peeping Season. (This is not so far-fetched as you might think!) And she’ll be bringing her husband and twin baby boys. Now, you need the equipment to bed down and feed this outfit, including your brother-in-law who is the size of a Patriots Middle Linebacker! What do you do? Smile – a trip to the Re-Use Center and you’ll be OK!

The Re-Use Center is a SERVICE provided to us for free by our town. It costs the taxpayers nothing since it is managed and manned exclusively by VOLUNTEERS – NOT TOWN EMPLOYEES. So, the Re-Use Center really needs your help and support – they need you to volunteer so they can keep their door open! Volunteering to help at the Re-Use Center provides our town with a service that is important, not only to those who break a hip or have an unexpected house-full, but to the very fabric of our town.

WRAP report for June

Joe Beer sent along this WRAP report (last month, sorry for tardiness!). Lots of pics of the garden on its webpage.

George’s Garden

As you round the corner heading out of the recycling center, there it is………George’s Garden. Instead of the burn pit, piles of brush, cement dividers, recycling containers, and boney gravel, there is the little corner of serene green overlooking Whitcomb’s Pond.

In spring of 2011, the Watkins family asked that donations be made to the Town of Walpole George Watkins Memorial Recycling Fund. Working together, Paul Colburn, head of the recycling department, Fritze Till and the rest of the WRAP Committee won approval from the Selectmen to build a garden dedicated in George Watkins’s memory.

Once the WRAP committee accepted the task of building the memorial garden, many hands and minds set to work. Fritze Till was the master gardener in charge of plant selection and garden design. Under her caring and wise direction, the garden now has a beautiful and varied selection of trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers. In combination, the flora now provide a season-long show of gorgeous flowers and foliages.

Fritze’s many helpers included numerous recycling volunteers, friends and garden lovers. The center boulder was donated and delivered by Cold River Materials. Workers from the Recycling Department delivered, moved and removed goodly amounts of mulch, compost and not-so-good topsoil.

Should you be of a mind to sit down for a bit to enjoy the lush scenery or the water fowl on the cool waters of the pond, there are three benches built by Bob Grenier. George Watkins and his wife, both of whom were devoted to gardening, would be more than quietly pleased to rest for a moment in this tranquil nook, nestled in the far corner of the Recycling Center.

The Recycling Center itself was set into motion in January of 1988, when George Watkins, William Beer and Roger Weil began the planning process for the Walpole Recycling Action Program, otherwise known as WRAP. In the early days, volunteers worked four hour shifts in the freezing cold and boiling heat. Equipment consisted of a glass crusher, a plastic granulator, a used railroad boxcar and a donated mobile trailer for the Re-Use It Center. The original budget to get things rolling was $11,000, approved at Town Meeting.

George stayed with the Recycling Center from 1988 to 2011, serving as its chairman that entire time. In 2010, George was honored with the Volunteer Recycler of the Year Award by the NRRA, The Northeast Regional Resource Association.

In fact, Walpole’s recycling program has earned a number of awards. In 1999, Walpole was awarded the Best Municipal Recycling Program from the NRRA. In 2012, the Town of Walpole won the award for Greatest Number of Programs Used Through the NRRA for a town with a a population of 1,000 – 5,000. This year the Town of Walpole again won the Award for the Greatest Number of Programs Used Through the NRRA. Also this year, Paul Colburn won the Environmental Stewardship Award from New Hampshire the Beautiful. Congratulations and thank you to George, Paul, Fritze and all the other volunteers who have made both the Walpole Recycling Program and the Recycling Center into model, award winning items.

 

Joe Beer

Reminder: Clean Up Day This Saturday 4/25/15

Saturday promises to be rain free and perfect for Walpole Clean Up Day. Meet at the Town Hall at 8:00 for coffee and Joanie Joan’s donuts. Sign in, pick up your blue bags and your maps and spend the next three hours getting lots of exercise while doing something great for the town! Bring your bags and other items back to the Town Common at 11:00, and the competition begins for the great prizes generously donated by local businesses.
If you have any questions, call Tara at 756-4861

WRAP Report

This just in from Charles Blount…

W.R.A.P.
Walpole Recycling Action Project

It’s been a long, cold winter.  All the wood for the wood stove has long since been burned up and it’s cold in here as I write this.  It’s even colder outside, and there’s a stiff, biting wind that just cuts right through you.
Mom and Dad Robin arrived a few days ago.  I have been feeling very sad for them; they’ll starve, since all the earthworms must still be frozen stiff like little pencils!   Well, Spring MUST be on the way now.  Mama Robin, just outside my window, pecked diligently at the ground and came up with an earthworm; not a big one mind you, but enough for her to live on for a while.  What a winter this has been!
As good stewards of our planet, we surely aren’t interested in spoiling it with trash.  We make a serious effort to REDUCE our trash by being very careful about what we buy and how it is packaged.  We also REUSE items that others might throw away, and we RECYCLE (repurpose) items where possible (that empty aluminum soda can might end up as part of the wing of that jet you fly on your next trip to Miami).
The REDUCE part of the equation is the responsibility of each one of us, individually.  Our town can’t  help us there; WE have to do it!
Our town CAN help us with the REUSE part of the equation.  The Walpole REUSE Center is up and running again as of last week.  As we come into the Recycle Center out on Drewsville Road, the first thing we see is the big, blue trailer to the right of the main building.  Really, – a Big Blue Trailer?  Yep; that’s the home of the Walpole REUSE Center.  That big blue trailer is unheated, so it has to shut down every winter.  TRIVIA: What is the biggest thing that we REUSE again and again?  The Walpole REUSE Center’s Big Blue Trailer, of course!
OK, so how can we use the REUSE Center?  Well, for example, there, in the garage is Robbie’s bicycle. He rode that thing everywhere back before his family moved to Walpole. Now, living at the top of a long, steep hill, it just isn’t used anymore. Besides, Robbie is now a sophomore at college in Pennsylvania and gets around in a used VW. His dad is too out of shape to make it up that big hill, and mom won’t ride it – after all, it’s a boy’s bike and I hear that no self-respecting girl would ride a boy’s bike – you know how girls are!
Anyway, Roger will be starting the 4th grade this fall; he doesn’t have a bike – yet.  Mom sees just what he needs at the REUSE Center and, after making a small donation to the local Food Shelf, heads home with a bike that will last Roger until HE goes off to college.
The object of this whole REUSE process is to prevent that bike from becoming a part of the solid waste stream that spoils our beautiful state, and our planet.  Please go to Walpolerecycling.com/reuse-center/ to see a list of what is available there.  And, the next time you are out at the RECYCLING Center, stop by the REUSE Trailer to see, first hand, what is there – you’ll be amazed!  Speak with the good people there, the volunteers who man the center, to see how you might join them as a volunteer – just two hours per month.  This can be your way to “Pay It Ahead” to the town that does so much for us all.
Now, a quick note on the RECYCLE part of the REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE equation.  The recent reduction in oil (and gasoline) prices has been just great for our family budget.  But that same reduction has caused dislocations in the raw materials world.  Plastic, like that used for water bottles, is called “PETE” and has a resin code of “1” (that’s what the “1” in the triangle tells you).  At the most basic level, PETE is made from oil along with some other chemicals.  That’s why the plastics world is in competition with the heating oil and gasoline world – same basic resource.
When oil prices were high (the past few years) plastic companies bought their PETE from recyclers like us (and thousands of other towns around the US – and Europe, too).  The recycled PETE was cleaned, shredded, chemically melted down, some more chemicals were added, and then it was recast into bottles.  There you have it; the life-cycle of PETE.
But, when the price of oil drops (as it has recently), the plastic companies can make their PETE directly from oil at near, or even less cost than they could make it by processing recycled PETE.  If the plastic companies don’t pay us for our recyclable PETE we are faced with either storing it somewhere, or paying to have it dumped in a landfill.  Once in a landfill, it will be there forever – plastics do not biodegrade!
Given the current raw materials market, plastic companies can afford to be really picky about the quality (purity) of our recycled PETE.  In order to avoid having our recycled PETE end up in a landfill, we have to be just as “picky” as the plastic companies about the purity of what we take in.
At least for the time being, we just can no longer take in those “clam-shell” containers, or PETE items that are not in a “bottle” format (where the top (opening) is smaller in diameter than the base).  And we cannot take in PETE items that we cannot see through.  (They don’t have to be “clear or colorless,” but we have to be able to see through them.)
Uncomfortable as these changes are for you (and for us) they will keep the “purity” of our PETE recyclables at a level where we should be able to continue to sell our recycled PETE to the plastic companies.
Now, one final reminder: the REUSE Center is in need of volunteers; please stop in to see all the good things they have in the Big Blue Trailer, and learn what it means to be a volunteer there.  Pay It Ahead.