Somerset County Courthouse

Somerset County Courthouse is shown on Monday, May 14, 2018.

SOMERSET, Pa. – Somerset County officials’ efforts to salvage their countywide recycling program took a step backward Tuesday.

Just two months after naming Somerset-area native Erin Walker as the program’s coordinator, the Somerset County commissioners approved her resignation.

Walker, who accepted the job while living in North Carolina in June, did not divulge why she resigned Aug. 25, the commissioners said.

The county halted its collection bin program in early 2020 due to rising expenses to sort and process local recyclables, and poor market conditions for the goods – namely glass.

The move in late June to add Walker was part of a larger plan to reshape the program and place a renewed emphasis on educating the public on the benefits of reuse, with a goal of establishing scheduled “collection days” rather than drop-off sites.

President Commissioner Gerald Walker – who is not related to the now-former coordinator – said the position will likely be advertised again.

Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes said county officials recognize there isn’t a broad field of recycling experts waiting in line for jobs such as this one, which carried a $28,000 annual salary this summer.

“For the most part, recycling coordinators are made, not born,” she said.

Perhaps someone with the right “transferable skills,” such as a former teacher with a passion for the environment, might be interested in the task of reshaping the county’s program, she said.

“We’ll start our search and see what happens,” Tokar-Ickes said.

Airport bids awarded

A New Castle contractor was awarded a more than $97,000 project to install LED lighting along the perimeter of Somerset County Airport’s runway and taxiway this fall.

Bruce-Merrilees Electric Co. was awarded the airport work, which involves removing stake-mounted lighting that has existed for decades at the facility and replacing it with new, efficient lighting that will be run through 2-inch PVC conduit, the company’s proposal shows.

Control equipment also will be replaced.

Commissioner Colleen Dawson said a local 5% match is required for the otherwise government-funded effort, but the county is exploring whether COVID-19-related stimulus funds can be allocated toward the work.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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