JACKSON — Out of concern for employees being exposed to the coronavirus, the town of Jackson says it will no longer accept recyclables, construction material, metal, furniture, mattresses or brush at the transfer station it operates jointly with Bartlett and Hart's Location.
Tamworth selectmen also created a new policy this week saying the town is no longer recycling until the coronavirus outbreak subsides. They are encouraging people to hold onto their recyclables or dump them into the regular household waste.
Tamworth residents are also encouraged to maintain social distancing while interacting with transfer station staff.
For the time being, Bartlett, Conway and Hart's Location are still doing recycling, though Bartlett will not accept televisions or construction materials.
“We’re not taking anything that you have to pay (to dispose of) — the TVs, the construction materials,” Gene Chandler, chairman of the Bartlett Board of Selectmen, said Tuesday.
He said when Jackson made its announcement to stop accepting recycled materials such as paper, plastic, aluminum and glass, “We discussed it with our crew, but they already wear gloves. For the time being, we are going to stick with recyclables."
But, he said, speaking for fellow board members Vicki Garland and August Vincent, "we are not taking anything where you have to pay for anything or have contact with people."
Hart's Location selectmen's chair Mark Dindorf said he hoped voters in his town would continue to recycle items even though larger-fee disposal items such as TVs and mattresses will not be accepted during the current situation.
"Recycling is something I have long advocated, and I hope that our residents will continue to do so," said Dindorf, who noted that voters at annual town meeting voted in favor of an agreement with Bartlett and Jackson for use of the Bartlett/Jackson Transfer Station for a minimum of 10 years.
That vote was to appropriate $5,000 as part of a $10,000 total infrastructure investment in the Transfer Station. The article was by ballot vote and passed 15-10.
Julie Atwell, Jackson town administrator, said in Monday's Jackson ENews that the recycling ban applies to Jackson residents only.
“The Jackson selectmen (chair John Allen, Dick Bennett and Barbara Campbell) are trying to limit the exposure to the transfer station crew, so anything that they would have to handle is not going to be accepted at this time.
"The goal is to have residents drive up, drop things in the trash bin and then drive off,” Atwell said Tuesday.
The Jackson E-News post told residents: "If you are unable to store your recyclables at this time, you will be permitted to include them in your household trash (for a limited time).”
Meanwhile, Conway Public Works Director Paul DegliAngeli said Tuesday that town selectmen agreed to continue recycling in Conway as usual and to also continue a week-old half-shift policy for employees at the town departments of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Highway and Transfer Station for another three weeks and then re-evaluate.
“We have the list of materials and information from the state Department of Environmental Services Department of Solid Waste," DegliAngeli said. "And in reviewing that material with employees, we firstly find that we are already doing all of those things (concerning wearing masks and gloves in handling waste materials and not allowing the public inside the recycling building and not having employees go outside the building).
"We have always done those things because our staff is well-trained and it is always a concern when handling people's waste," he said.
He added that "we cannot see how stopping recycling would help in decreasing the spread of this virus."
He said that a week ago, he halved the employee workforce among his various departments.
"That way, if someone gets sick, we can send people to work at the transfer station because numbers and use have not shown any decline so far," DegliAngeli said.
"I will be discussing that with selectmen whether they want to keep that going as the two weeks for that practice is up next Wednesday."
The Conway Transfer Station serves the Lower Mount Washington Valley Solid Waste District, consisting of Conway, Albany and Eaton. For more information, go to conwaynh.org/transfer-station.