“While it’s nearly taken eight years to this point, we are really excited about this project,” said John Mitchell, Redwood County environmental office director, during a ceremony held at the site of the new facility.
The earth moved Aug. 1. That was the sign Brian Sams, Redwood County Recycling coordinator, has been patiently waiting for as it relates to the Redwood/ Renville regional material recovery facility which is being built on land just west of Redwood Falls. Sams said he’d believe the project was a reality when the first dirt moved. “It’s a reality today,” he said, adding it has been a long process. That process, said John Mitchell, Redwood County environmental office director, has been in the works for years, and over that period of time there have been ups and downs related to the proposed project. “While it’s nearly taken eight years to this point, we are really excited about this project,” said Mitchell, during a ceremony held at the site of the new facility. Mitchell said the planning began in 2002 with a different focus – the creation of a waste to energy facility in Lamberton. As that project stalled, those involved went back to the drawing board and came up with a new idea That plan culminated with the collaboration of Redwood and Renville counties on a facility that is going to accept both recyclable material and municipal solid waste via a transfer station on site.
A board made up of people from both counties was established to work together toward the project with both counties bringing something to the table. Redwood County, said Mitchell, has a strong recycling program, with an 80 percent participation rate ranking it second statewide. Renville County has a landfill that can be used to take care of those materials that can’t be recycled. John Schueller, Redwood County commissioner, called the collaboration a marriage, adding it is the two counties working together cooperatively that really helped to make the project a reality. “This is quite an undertaking,” said Sen. Lyle Koenen, who represents most of Renville County, adding a $7 million commitment demonstrates just how much those involved believe in making this happen. “This is a good example of people working together to accomplish a great idea.” Sen. Gary Dahms, who represents Redwood County, said a regional project like this is going to help set the example for others to follow in Minnesota, adding the environmental and economic impact on the region is going to be significant. “There are a lot of good things happening here,” Dahms said, adding he looks forward to seeing the facility live up to its potential. “This is going to be a showcase piece for southwest Minnesota,” said Bob Fox, Renville County commissioner, adding the potential exists for additional partnerships down the road that could help make the facility even more viable. Mitchell thanked all who helped make the facility possible, and others expressed their appreciation to the perseverance both Mitchell and Sams demonstrated throughout the process. According to Sams, the plan is to have the shell of the facility up soon, with the facility tentatively set to open in September 2015. “This project shows we care about the environment,” said Sams. “This is about doing things the right way.”