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Calhoun County Commission voices support of compost facility

Calhoun County commissioners on Thursday approved an 86-acre composting facility, to be built on Alabama 77.

Roo White, president of White’s Environmental Solutions in Glencoe, said after the commission’s meeting Thursday that her company needed that approval to apply for a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.  White said she should know by February whether ADEM signs off on the project, which would open shortly thereafter.

The facility, to be on Alabama 77 in an unincorporated area of Calhoun and Talladega counties, would accept compostable waste directly from municipalities in Talladega, Etowah, St. Clair and Calhoun counties, White said. Once collected that waste would be composted and sold.

The commission’s approval Thursday was the first step in what White said will be a thorough permitting and education process, both through ADEM and the U.S. Composting Council, before the facility can open.

“We have to go to a lot of classes and go through a lot of testing,” White said.

Her company also plans to start a cooperative program at Ohatchee High School to teach about composting and use of organic materials in gardening.

White’s Environmental Solutions was one of five Alabama startups to win a portion of $250,000 in April from Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama that promotes entrepreneurship. Her company was awarded $15,000 and the People’s Choice award in a competition that put the rural-based startup head-to-head with numerous tech companies.  

County commissioners expressed enthusiasm for the project, which White said would be the largest composting facility in the state.  

“It’s going to be good for the county,” said Commissioner Lee Patterson.

In other business, the commission:

- Applied for a $25,000 grant through the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council for continued restoration of Piney Wood Chapel. The commission in October 2015 took ownership of the World War II-era chapel at McClellan.

- Approved a three-year, $95,000 annual employment contract renewal for current Assistant County Administrator Melissia Wood.

- Applied for a $13,502 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. Administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the grant is to be used for headsets for Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies’ radios.

- Amended a contract with Tyler Software which credited the county $2,475 for unused software and training.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.