The bulk of Tuesday night's Fulton City Council meeting was business as usual - including a rehash of the state of the city's recycling program during the work session - but the comments from visitors portion included an out-of-the-ordinary and heartfelt "Thank you" for services rendered by the city.
Fulton VFW Post 2657 member Tom Maupin thanked Mayor Charles Latham and the Fulton Police and Fire departments for their assistance in helping welcome wounded Marine Tyler Huffman home to Fulton late Saturday night. All on-duty police and fire personnel at the time helped escort Huffman through the city to his father's home, where he will be living after being paralyzed following an IED blast in Afghanistan.
"I'm here to express my appreciation for your exceptional response in responding to the return of a wounded U.S. Marine returning home from the war on terror," Maupin said as he presented a certificate of appreciation to Latham and a letter of thanks for Fulton Police Chief Steve Myers. "You did an outstanding job. All it took from me was one phone call.
"Experiencing the moment to truly honor a returning hometown hero was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is unimaginable for anyone not to feel an immeasurable burst of patriotism and national pride."
The business portion of the meeting started off with the recycling discussion during the work session. The topic had been placed on the agenda at the request of Ward 1 Representative Mike West.
Latham reminded council members that the city had solicited bids just over two years ago for companies to provide recycling collection services.
"None of the vendors could provide yard waste pickup," he said, which was one of the main reasons the council decided at the time to continue its own recycling collection.
The council had previously considered the possibility of purchasing recycling carts for city customers as a way to encourage more residents to participate in the program, but never took action after it was determined it would likely be cost prohibitive based on existing participation. Solid Waste Manager J.C. Miller said he checked prices again and they had increased to approximately $67 per cart. He said if the council wished, he could bring the sample carts in for its consideration again.
"I looked into split containers with one side for yard waste and one for recycling," Miller said. "I talked to O'Fallon (which had purchased some of the split containers) and they chose after four or five months to quit because it was not working for them."
He said the city still is collecting recycling at approximately the same rate as last year - at 22 tons for 2011 compared to 24 tons for the same point in 2010 - but noted there has been an increase in the amount of material left in the collection bins maintained by Kingdom Projects.
"I did get into contact with Lon Little (of Kingdom Projects) and he has seen a substantial increase in the amount of recyclables in the roll-off containers," Miller said, noting the containers are yielding approximately 58 tons per month.
Ward 1 Councilman Wayne Chailland asked whether there were problems with people dumping the wrong materials or trash in the bins. According to Miller, Little said that has not been an issue lately.
After hearing that assessment, West said he would like to see cost estimates on purchasing recycling carts for all city residents, or at least doing a pilot program in several neighborhoods to see whether carts would make an impact on the level of participation.
"The last time we talked about this we talked about doing a trial in a couple neighborhoods, and we never did it," Ward 2 Councilman Lowe Cannell agreed.
Miller said if the city is interested in conducting such a pilot program there is a possibility it could be funded through grants. He said he would look into the possibility for the next grant cycle, which comes around in December.