A renewed Cherokee County environmental committee is facing it's first challenges—a closing landfill and the need for more participation.

"We had an original solid waste committee back in the early 90's, and the last document I've seen is from 1997," Carl Hayes said Monday morning.  "It just kind of faded into oblivion."

Since April, Hayes said the committee has been been re-energized, especially after Republic Services told county commissioners that they would be shutting down the Wheatland Landfill before the end of the year.

Hayes serves as the Chair and explained that the joint committee is an umbrella group overseeing both solid waste issues in Cherokee County as well as serving as a local environmental protection committee.

This includes overseeing the revitalization of the recycling program.  In early June, in cooperation with the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center, the committee oversaw the collection of 14,585 pounds of electronic waste in Columbus.  Another electronic collection day will be held sometime in the next month in the Baxter Springs-Galena area once a location is confirmed.

Hayes said the Local Environmental Protection Program grant requires the county "to have a local environmental protection committee to keep abreast of the county's environmental code and make improvements and deal with the environmental climate in the county."

Hayes said it made more sense to have one committee serve both functions even though catalyst for the formation of the group was the solid waste portion.

"It's so hard to attract people that care and want to make a difference and want to be involved," he explained.  "The hard thing is to get enough members to form a committee."

In addition to Hayes, other members of the committee include Pittsburg State University professor and Chair of the Crawford County Environmental Committee, Dr. James Triplett, Chuck Delp of the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center, Jim Burton of the City of Columbus, and Chris and Joyce Palmer, who operate the largest private hauler in Cherokee County.

Hayes said they are looking for representatives for the Baxter Springs and Galena area, as well as from the northern part of the county.

If you are interested in joining the committee or would like more information contact Carl Hayes at the Cherokee County Department of Health - (620) 429-3087 or 1-888-405-5323.