WILLIAM NANGLE: Solid waste district forming a solid plan?

2014-06-22T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: Solid waste district forming a solid plan?By William Nangle nwitimes.com
June 22, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Perhaps there is life after death. That's what might be happening with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District.

After wasting five years and spending thousands of dollars chasing a trash-to-ethanol fantasy, the group seems to be taking up its original charge of consolidating trash disposal throughout the county.

The idea, of course, is to establish a system that will save local governments money.

Just a bit of history. Earl Powers out of Evansville brought the idea of turning trash into ethanol to Lake County. He proposed a $300 million disposal facility be built on the northern edge of Schneider in south Lake County. It was a to be a leap into future technology.

Time after time it was argued a facility in Florida was making the process work. It turned out the Florida plant was processing yard waste, not pure garbage.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub championed the proposal in what some suggested was shaping up to be yet another Lake County-style deal.

Over and over the project met delay after delay. There was lots of drama. The end came quickly and quietly.

And Scheub just as quickly departed the board. His years of lobbying for the Powers deal met the facts of reality

Move forward nearly six years. Under the leadership of Lake County Councilman Dave Hamm, the waste district is coming alive and entertaining more traditional methods of trash consolidation.

It will entertain ideas from several companies and do so in the light of day.

I have always thought trash consolidation could prove workable and cost-saving by uniting the county's 18 communities. That said, it must be realized getting 18 communities to agree will be difficult. Simply look at the mess over state-mandated consolidation of 911 service. St. John, Cedar Lake and Schererville have refused to be part of a countywide 911 system as intended by the Indiana General Assembly. It's a fight that may well end up in court.

But even though the 911 example puts a cloud of doubt over merging trash disposal, it is a project well worth pursuit. It could save local governments money and, hopefully, local taxpayers, too.

William Nangle is editor emeritus of The Times. The opinions are the writer's.

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