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March 31, 2011 7:27 am

Powell Valley Recycling takes over new building

Written by CJ Baker

Hopes to make move in a couple months

Closing a deal some two years in the making, Powell Valley Recycling took ownership Monday of what soon will be its new, expanded location — the former Park County Road and Bridge shop.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Powell Valley Recycling Manager Mary Jo Decker.

The facility, located across from Powell’s west water tower on Road 10, will offer much-needed space for the nonprofit recycling organization, which has grown substantially since its beginnings 18 years ago.

Powell Valley Recycling’s current location, on North Hamilton Street, is out of room to grow.

In fiscal year 1996-97, recyclers brought 500,514 pounds of materials to Powell Valley; by 2007-08, that number had more than tripled to some 1.63 million pounds. It’s stayed at those levels in recent years. Decker estimates that around 80 percent of the materials come from the Powell area, with the remaining 20 percent coming from around the Big Horn Basin, including Lovell, Byron and Greybull.

“We’re hoping within a couple of months ... to be in here,” said Decker, during a Tuesday tour of the shop for a Tribune reporter.

Upon entering the building, Decker introduced the first garage area — which will be where folks will drop off their recyclables — as “the little room.”

But “little” is a relative term in the former road and bridge shop. As Decker later noted, “This is about what (space) we have now, for everything that we’re doing.”

In the new location, a much larger adjoining section is available for storage and for housing the operation’s three balers. The additional space will allow more flexibility for when loads of recyclables are taken in and shipped out, giving Powell Valley Recycling convenience and the opportunity to stash materials and wait for optimal commodity prices.

All told, the county shop is about three times the size of Powell Valley Recycling’s current location on North Hamilton Street.

“It’s huge now, but it won’t take long to fill it,” Decker predicted.

There also are three acres out back for storage — much more real estate than the organization’s current in-town lots.

Another perk is that the site is conveniently located just across the way from the Habitat for Humanity Restore, an outlet store for used or surplus construction and household materials.

“Everything just seemed to work perfect for this location,” said Decker.

Powell Valley Recycling is purchasing the building from Park County at a net cost of $120,000.

Citing the benefits to county residents and the county’s landfills, commissioners voted in October 2009 to sell the building to Powell Valley Recycling for $140,000 — a steep discount of its appraised value of $240,000. In January, the commission voted to provide another $20,000 of funding towards the recycling group’s move.

The building officially became available late last fall when the county’s Powell-area road and bridge operations moved to new, expanded quarters of their own on west Lane 9.

Closing the deal took time as Powell Valley Recycling waited for the final word on government financing.

A few hours prior to Monday’s deed transfer, Park County Commission Chairman Bucky Hall said the sale to Powell Valley Recycling was a “win-win” — allowing a community recycling effort to expand and allowing the county to sell some of its property.

For a while, Hall said, it seemed like all the county was doing was acquiring property, noting the acquisition of the Park County Complex.

“It’s a good thing,” Hall said of the sale. “If we could just get rid of the old (Cody) library we’d be good to go.”

Hall said the county doesn’t have a ton of money to give to the recycling organization, but was able to help with infrastructure.

“They’re always going to have funding issues, but at least they have room now,” he said.

Powell Valley Recycling expects to spend about $100,000 renovating the building. Major components include upgrading the facility’s power to three-phase electricity and making the bathroom complaint with the American with Disabilities Act. Some doors and windows also will be added to the former shop.

A darkened room in the facility — formerly used to store oil — is destined for use as Decker’s office.

The building also “definitely needs cleaning and painting,” Decker said, but those and other issues may be addressed further down the road as time and money allow.

Powell Valley Recycling has $245,000 available for the building’s purchase and renovation, including $195,000 it received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program in December. Of that, $127,000 is a low-interest loan and $68,000 is a grant.

The recycling group also has a $50,000 grant from the Willard H. Moyer Foundation.

The group hopes to make the move to the new location as soon as possible, in part because of the costs of paying for two locations.

Contractors will be brought in soon to provide estimates for the needed upgrades, beginning the process of turning the shop into a recycling center.

“That’s part of our job, to re-use,” Decker said.

For the time being, operations will continue at Powell Valley Recycling’s current location, 535 North Hamilton St.

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