Transfer stations cut hours, blaming COVID

Recycled boxes sit on a conveyor belt at Greene County Solid Waste Management in Catskill. File photo

Hours will be reduced at three of Greene County’s transfer stations due to the increase of COVID-19 cases.

Starting Monday, the transfer stations in Coxsackie, Hunter and Windham will be closed for an additional day each week.

“Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in the region, Greene County Solid Waste has made the difficult decision to temporarily close three of its four transfer stations one additional day each week,” according to the county’s website. “This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of its staff.”

The cut in hours came from a reduced workforce, Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said.

“Solid Waste had some employees on quarantine and that made a bit of a staffing issue,” Linger said. “We didn’t want to move staff from one transfer station to another. The smartest way to reduce the workforce was to cut down to five days instead of six.”

Linger did not know how many Solid Waste employees were on quarantine.

The new hours will not allow employees to work at different sites and will reduce the possibility of COVID-19 infection, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.

“By remaining at one site and always working with the same crew, reduces — slightly — the prospects of exposure,” he said.

Greene County Highway and Solid Waste Superintendent Scott Templeton agreed.

“Our current station hours required employees to rotate around to each of those stations and work with multiple staff members,” he said. “The additional day at each of those three stations allows us to keep staff together and not cross expose employees, risking shutting down multiple facilities due to a positive COVID-19 case or quarantine of personnel. This will protect our staff as well as limit our risk of impacts to multiple facilities.”

The Catskill Transfer Station will be closed Sundays and Wednesdays, Coxsackie will be closed Sundays and Mondays, Hunter will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Windham will be closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Between the four stations, there will be a transfer station open seven days of the week, Linger said.

“There’s still a transfer station open seven days a week in the county,” he said. “It just may not be the one that is closest to you.”

All construction and demolition debris must be disposed at either Windham or Catskill transfer stations while the Hunter Transfer Station is reconstructed. Recycling material, bagged trash and commercial municipal solid waste continues to be accepted.

The bid for the general contractor on the reconstruction project was awarded in April to Tweedie Construction Services Inc., of Walton, at $959,160. The bid for electrical contractor was awarded to CDE Electrical Inc., of Cairo, at $108,100.

The county transfer stations have been experiencing an uptick in use, with a 30% to 40% rise in customers, Greene County Highway and Solid Waste Superintendent Scott Templeton told lawmakers in October.

The county also had to make staffing adjustments when a staff member at the Athens Senior Center tested positive in November and the remaining employees went on quarantine.

“Some staff from Acra and Jewett went down to Athens,” Linger said. “I believe there was two days right in the beginning there was some sort of disruption [in meal service].”

The employees who were in quarantine have returned to work, Linger said, adding that he was not aware of any additional positive tests.

Linger said he was not aware of changes to any other departments.

“All county departments have been working on continuity of operations plans in case other infections are diagnosed,” Groden said in November. “It may be necessary to alter operations if other employees test positive.”

Greene County reported 43 active cases Tuesday.

The county also canceled its fourth public Greene County Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative meeting Nov. 24 due to the increase in COVID cases.

“It’s a daily struggle to figure out what the right way to go is for operations and we look at it every day,” Linger said. “We aim for the worst and hope for the best.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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