U.S. Representative James McGovern, D-MA, currently representing the state’s 3rd Congressional District, toured the Blackstone Valley Recycling Center on Chestnut Street in Blackstone yesterday.
Blackstone is not in the 3rd Congressional District, and neither are all the other cities and towns participating in the recycling program there.
But by this time next year, Blackstone and most of the Recycling Center’s participating towns will be McGovern’s responsibility.
In the last U.S. Census, Massachusetts lost one congressional district because its population growth wasn’t as high as in other states. Under the new map, McGovern is moved into the 2nd Congressional District, bringing with him the towns of Auburn, Blackstone, Holden, Shrewsbury, Northborough, Uxbridge and Westborough, among others. Leicester, Millbury, Grafton and Northbridge are already in the 2nd District.
The recycling center began seven years ago as a one man show serving only the town of Blackstone. It is now a multi-town operation under the direction of Bill Walsh.
Recycled material is collected, sorted, baled and sold – proceeds from the sale going back to the communities from which it came.
As visitors walked across large cement slabs from the parking lot to a bailing shed, Charles Sawyer, member of the Blackstone Board of Selectmen explained that the yard is somewhat uneven because each slab was poured at different times when a little extra money was available.
Seven years later, there are two sorting/bailing buildings, one for paper and cardboard and another for plastic and cans, and cement is poured for what Foreman Marco Rego hopes will be a glass sorter.
His hope is McGovern will play a role is helping that happen.
The cost will be about $100,000, but would generate thousands of dollars for participating communities, Walsh said.
“This is one of those times when I wish we still had earmarks,’’ McGovern said. What he’ll have to do instead, is research whether there are federal grants available specific to recycling that might fund the next phase of the center’s development.
He cautioned, however, that his duties now center on the 3rd Congressional District which will have to be his priority until January when the new map goes into effect.
“Come January we’ll see what I can do about getting you some money,’’ he said.
The recycling center is self-sustaining, Walsh noted, using not a dime of taxpayer money.
The Northbridge branch of the center, located on Main Street behind the Fire Station, is closed the months of January and February, but reopens Saturday, March 3.
Currently, the Northbridge center will be open only on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Rego said he’s hoping to open it a second day this year.
Margo Bik, vice chairman of the Blackstone Board of Selectmen, said one of the fun parts of each recycling center is its swap shop. Need to get rid of a bureau? Leave it; Need a bureau? Take it.”
Following the tour of the recycling center, McGovern had lunch and talked with residents at the Blackstone Senior Center then toured the Mill in Douglas.
For more information on the Blackstone Valley Recycling Center, visit http://www.townofblackstone.org/Pages/BlackstoneMA_BOH/Recycling/index. For helpful recycling tips, visit http://www.townofblackstone.org/Pages/BlackstoneMA_BOH/Recycling/guide.pdf