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Published: Saturday, 12/29/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

With solid-waste law in flux in state, Wood County to leave retiree’s job vacant

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN — With an overhaul of Ohio law governing solid-waste management looming, Wood County commissioners say they do not plan to hire a new solid-waste director for now.

Ken Rieman, the Wood County Solid Waste Management District’s first and only director, retired Friday. Mr. Rieman, who had held the position since 1991, said he chose to retire because of imminent changes to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, but the impending changes to Ohio’s solid waste law played a part too.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there. That’s a concern,” Mr. Rieman said. “ ... I just don’t get a good sense of where we’re going. They’re talking about everything.”

Scott Nally, who was appointed director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency by Gov. John Kasich, told county officials at a recent conference that House Bill 592, approved in 1988 to regulate garbage in Ohio, will be completely overhauled.

“He said, ‘We’re not just going to nibble at the edges. We’re going to gut it,’” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said.

Among the changes the EPA is looking at is consolidation of solid-waste districts. Ohio now has 52 — some, such as Wood County's, coverING just one county, others including multiple counties.

Mr. Nally came to the Ohio EPA from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Indiana has just eight solid-waste-management districts.

Linda Oros, an Ohio EPA spokesman, said in addition to consolidating districts by region, the agency is looking at changes ranging from controlling the flow of waste to increasing recycling programs and changing the way solid-waste-management districts are funded.

“We’re trying to look at everything that could be done in order to make things work more efficiently,” Ms. Oros said.

The EPA has been gathering information and holding meetings on particular issues in solid waste. The next step will be to come up with proposed changes to the law.

“Ohio EPA’s goal is to introduce a draft proposal to the legislature in mid-2013,” she said.

In Wood County, Mr. Kalmar said that with Mr. Rieman's retirement, Ken Vollmar, superintendent of the Wood County landfill, will continue to run the landfill, and three other employees in the solid-waste will manage education and recycling programs.

“There is a significant amount of uncertainty over the overhaul of the solid-waste law, so we hesitate to hire somebody only to find out that in less than a year’s time we don’t have a solid waste district because they changed the law,” he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan vat: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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