BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A superhero may be coming to a class near you.
The Great River Regional Waste Authority is currently working on putting together three mascots for its Environmental Management System’s educational programming.
Wade Hamm, director of the authority, said one of the state’s objectives for recycling and waste management programs is an educational focus aimed at teaching the state’s youth about the benefits of recycling.
“It’s just one of six items that they audit us on. Our objective is to have more environmental classes,” Hamm said. “We’re making a series of Power Point presentations depending upon the age of the youth we’re talking to. We had some employees who said we should get a mascot for recycling, so that’s what we’re looking at. We want to increase the number of those presentations we’re doing and really get the word out there about environmental management.”
Hamm said GRRWA doesn’t have the mascots yet but they are looking online for a super hero, Rocky out of Paw Patrol who drives a recycling truck, and they are trying to find a third one.
“We’ve got an employee who’s excited about being our mascot and helping educate area kids on our programming. One of the focuses we want to hit hard is the younger kids. I give presentations to local service groups, Lions clubs, etc. and they do the education programs.
In another stroke of good news for GRRWA is that offender labor that is part of the authority’s workforce will remain intact through the end of June.
Hamm said GRRWAs contract is with Iowa Prison Industries, and he was informed that IPI will be honoring their contract with GRRWA and will be sending offenders from the Mt. Pleasant facility.
Although that labor will be cut by about an hour per day due to increased travel and offenders having to be back in Mt. Pleasant by 3 p.m. they have to leave the facility a bit earlier than usual.
“When they decided to close the John Bennett Unit they had to move those inmates throughout the state. IPI contacted me and said they would get me a crew from Mt. Pleasant and carry out the contract we have,” Hamm said.
“That’s kind of a bad deal for the city, but the state had to do what it had to do. I felt very fortunate that IPI stepped up and honored the contract.”
He said he didn’t know if there would be a way to work out logistics to get some labor for the city to use in the parks system. The city is left with a labor shortfall where offender labor was used at .50/hour and now is faced with looking outside city payroll to get parks and cemeteries maintained.