Working to improve the county’s environment hasn’t been easy since they volunteered to serve on the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority in the 1990s.
“Sometimes, you feel like (a pioneer),” said Hogbin, who has served on the public agency’s board since July 1992.
For their efforts over the years, Hogbin, Mason, Lashley and former board member Gerry Fitzgerald, who served about 15 years on the authority, each have received the Recycling Champion Award from the West Virginia Recycling Commission.
And last year, Mason became the first Eastern Panhandle resident to be named Volunteer of the Year by the Association of West Virginia Solid Waste Authorities, Hogbin said.
“I’m proud of it,” Mason said of his award.
“And I’m very jealous of it,” Hogbin quipped.
In the early 1990s, Hogbin recalled the county being targeted by some in state government to be chosen as the site for a massive centralized dump. There were no recycling programs, and a 10-acre tire-pile site and the county’s old landfill loomed as $10 million in liabilities.
Hamstrung financially, the authority also had a paid executive director it couldn’t afford, Hogbin said.
“You had a slew of solid-waste issues going on across the state, and Berkeley County was at the center of a lot of those issues,” Hogbin said.
Lashley, who volunteered to serve on the authority about three years later, said she stepped in when the board was embroiled in litigation over the landfill’s tonnage cap — the amount of waste allowed to be received in a given month.
“We would have meetings ’til midnight,” said Lashley, who met Hogbin through a recycling group in Hedgesville, W.Va.
In the effort to launch a county recycling program, Hogbin remembered being called a communist by a resident at a public meeting. A proposed curbside pickup program was shelved because county leaders were concerned about a mandatory fee attached to it.
“When they told us to find another way, we told them to find the money,” Mason said.
The county’s recycling program ultimately was launched with a $40,000 budget in 1995, Hogbin said.
To see the change in the public’s attitude toward recycling in the area since the beginning has been heartening, Hogbin said.
The authority’s recycling budget now stands at about $240,000 and allows for the operation of two comprehensive recycling centers that are open and staffed five days a week.
One recycling center is at the site of the former tire pile at 637 Pilgrim St. in Inwood, W.Va., and the other was developed at the old county landfill at 870 Grapevine Road.
Last year, Hogbin said about 100,000 vehicles visited the recycling centers, which accept many types of plastics, metals, glass, paper, appliances, batteries and other items.
“We have a program that we can be proud of,” Lashley said.
Given the public’s growing participation in the recycling program, Lashley said a top goal for her is the establishment of a third comprehensive drop-off site in the Hedgesville area.
“So if anybody has any land they want to donate ...” Lashley said.
Hogbin said he feels there is a need for a comprehensive facility in northern Berkeley County as well.
Mason said he ultimately wants to see the authority become self-sufficient and not have to rely on taxpayer support.
Those with questions or who want more information about the authority’s recycling programs may call the agency’s office at 304-267-9370 or the Berkeley County Recycling Hotline at 304-671-2925, or send an email to email@example.com
For more information about the county’s recycling program, go to www.berkeleywv.org/links/recycle.cfm.