SKOWHEGAN — Recycling pays off twice in green — once for the money earned by selling recyclable material, and again in avoided effect on the environment by diverting refuse from area landfills.

That was the message Tuesday night as selectmen unanimously approved a new three-year recycling agreement between the town of Skowhegan and Casella Recycling LLC, based in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which is a division of Casella Waste Systems, of Rutland, Vermont.

Casella buys all of the cardboard, plastics, glass, newspaper and mixed paper collected at the Skowhegan transfer station. The town makes $55,000 on average per year on the sale of the material, Code Enforcement Officer Randy Gray said before Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting.

“Paper plates and paper products and cardboard are mixed into a brine and reused for some other product,” Gray said. “Newspapers are put right back into newspapers sometimes as well. It’s a revenue maker. It’s almost 2-to-1.”

Gray said the $55,000 is a double revenue source, in that for every dollar the town takes in from recycling, it saves a dollar in the avoided cost of tipping fees at a landfill.

“It’s almost $100,000-plus a year that we make,” he said.


Skowhegan has been in a recycling agreement with Casella for the past 10 years. The company also comes to town and picks up the recycling material.

Selectmen on Tuesday night also voted 5-0 to schedule a public hearing date for Aug. 9 on the proposal to change the jobs of town clerk, town treasurer and road commissioner from elective positions, as they currently are, to ones the town manager fills by appointment. The proposal goes to town voters as a referendum question on Nov. 8, Election Day.

“Whenever the town puts a referendum question on the ballot, we have to hold a public hearing. That’s by state statute,” Town Manager Christine Almand said. “Selectmen have discussed the subject and decided to put it on the ballot.”

Selectmen voted in February to present it on the November ballot and not the Town Meeting voting ballot in June, when fewer people tend to go to the polls.

Residents, selectmen and some town officials differed on how the question should be answered, but most agreed that a vote should be taken in the privacy of the ballot booth, not in a public show of hands at Town Meeting.

Selectman Soren Siren on Tuesday night asked for a list of pros and cons to the question to be ready for the public hearing. Almand said she would research the question and be ready with a list Aug. 9.


Town Clerk/Treasurer Gail Pelotte, whose position would be affected by the vote in November, reported to selectmen in February the results of votes taken on the subject on Nov. 4, 2008. A question asking Skowhegan voters if they wanted to change the position of road commissioner from elective to appointive was defeated 2,574-1,576. The questions about the town clerk and town treasurer were voted down 2,661-1,488 and 2,656-1,490, respectively.

Road Commissioner Gregory Dore, 60, has been Skowhegan’s elected road commissioner for 23 years. He has been challenged for the job every three years but has prevailed each time.

Pelotte, 55, was re-elected unopposed for a three-year term in 2015. She is in her third three-year term.

Board Chairman Donald Skillings said in February that he was asked to bring the issue to the full board, noting concerns that in future elections a person who is not qualified could unseat Dore or Pelotte and that the question was not aimed at either town official. The debate has been raised several times over the past years, but voters never approved the change, and they have the final say on the matter.

Almand said town officials would like to see the positions appointive, not elective, as a safeguard against popularity contests, in which someone without credentials could be elected to office.

“Most town managers would tell you that it is a good idea that the positions are appointed,” Almand said. “Today the positions are much more complex than they were many years ago.”


Almand said the advantage of having appointive positions is that it is easier to manage the work, and the hiring process would include vetting applicants for their qualifications to do the work, including full background checks.

“We always have to think towards the future,” she said. “Should they decided to retire, the position that the town would be in to fill their place could be a predicament if we don’t have people with experience or knowledge run for the elected position. We could end up with someone with little or no experience.”

She said the downside of the proposal is that voters no longer would have control over who takes office.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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