The Hastings City Council heard the COA annual report from Executive Director Tammy Pennington and a progress report from Iris Waste Diversion Specialist Sarah Archer on the state of recycling in the city Monday.
The overriding goal for council members to take away from her report is to feel comfortable recommending the COA to older adults as they face the challenges of getting older, Pennington said at the beginning of the report . She also urged the council to remember the COA has a visiting nurse who will work in the home, one-on-one, with seniors.
The focus of the COA for an aging population is decreasing isolation and loneliness, improving health and wellness, increasing support to caregivers and supporting financial stability. Pennington said things have changed financially for older adults in the 30 years since she came to the COA, so older adults financial stability is getting more attention now.
Pennington’s handout listed the services the agency offers: in-home services, senior nutrition programs, adult day care services, Medicare/Medicaid assistance programs, community-based services, fund raising, and more. All of the headings have several subheadings with its programs listed; for example, in-home services have five programs within it; community-based services provide seven separate programs.
The COA relies heavily on its 230 to 250 volunteers a year, she said. The agency’s official mission statement is: “To provide independence, dignity and quality of life to the aging population and their families.”
Some statistics from 2017:
*1,743 older adults served
*58,387 meals provided
*12,177 in-home care hours provided
*8,422 day services hours provided
*206 community volunteers
*$379,894 grants written and received
*$14,234 in emergency funding for utility shut off notices, prescription, ramps and other necessities and,
*100 percent of Barry County townships and municipalities served. //
Archer was hired as a part-time recycling coordinator last July by the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee to find ways to boost recycling in the county. She has spent several months researching the issue, reporting on the first phase of her Recycling Assessment.
Hastings residents can recycle through Padnos, Waste Management or their trash hauler of choice, she said. Les’s Sanitary Service offers curb-side recycling and has 350 customers, while Waste Management has 17. Waste Management has 3,100 customers at the Hastings landfill, charging non-Hastings residents for its use.. Some 465 tons of Barry County waste went into the Kent County landfill in 2017, she said.
The national average of recycling is 30 percent, Michigan and Barry County’s recycle rate is 15 percent. Governor Rick Snyder has set a goal of upping Michigan’s recycling rate from 15 to 45 percent by setting up a panel to evaluate current solid waste laws and find ways for sustainable management of solid waste to avoid sending it to a landfill, Archer said in her report.
She will now look into more specific ways to increase recycling in the county, including Hastings, with more education of the public and more inter-local opportunities developed. Middleville has gone to a single waste hauler and other governmental units are looking at doing more projects together, she said.
Phase two of her analysis, which she will present in October, will be a comprehensive look at all recycling, with a strong focus on communication and education of county residents and more specific recommendations to officials. A county website, a phone line to answer questions, a recycling guide and eliminating barriers to recycling are some ways that will increase the recycling participation rate, she said.