By Jesse Wood
March 1, 2013. Lisa Doty, recycling coordinator for the county, spoke before the Watauga County Board of Commissioners last week during its annual retreat.
While she mentioned that Watauga County is recycling more material and increasing recycling revenue year over year, Doty noted one concern.
“One thing I do see possibly hurting us is the opening of the 421 metal recycling [center] out in Sugar Grove,” Doty said last Friday, referring to High Country Recycling, which is in the vicinity of Skate World on U.S. 421.
Doty added that the recycling center is “down half our weight” in scrap metal over the last six months compared to the same six-month period last year.
“We’ve not had a metal recycler that close to Boone that pays for metal,” Doty told High Country Press on Thursday. “They are paying for scrap metal. It’s marginal, but in this day and age, it’s anything you can get.”
She said that of the $499,553 of recycling revenue the county brought in during the fiscal year 2011-12, $84,000 was related to scrap metal. (See recycling weight and revenue and disposal cost figures at right below.)
At the annual retreat last Friday, Doty said of High Country Recycling, “There are some concerns about what they are doing out there and how they are permitted to take this stuff. I don’t know. That’s not my area.”
Kennedy responded, more in the form of a question, that there are some restrictions for the release of Freon, oil, gas and other vehicle fluids.
“Seems like they would have to meet some kind of criteria,” Kennedy said, adding that he lives in Bethel and it’s a long way from the dump.
“I wondered how that would effect us,” Kennedy said.
Chair Nathan Miller asked who was operating High Country Recycling and what materials exactly the business was accepting. But nobody knew much specific information about the business, and Doty eventually moved on to different topics during her presentation to the board.
Randall Baisden is the owner of High Country Recycling, LLC. He ran a similar business in Thomasville before moving to the High Country. He opened his business on U.S. 421 three months ago, but added that a scrap yard operated there before he came to town.
He charges $10 to $11 per 100 pounds of steel. He also takes aluminum, copper, brass, precious metals, stoves and refrigerators. He doesn’t buy big oil tanks unless they have a one-foot-by-one-foot hole to see if its empty, and he doesn’t buy propane tanks unless they are cut in half. He added that he doesn’t accept materials that say, “property of,” either.
As far as cars, he said he doesn’t accept vehicles that have fluids in them and that he doesn’t crush cars.
“If we buy a car, we store them on the lot. Once we get eight to nine cars, we’ll ship them down to South Carolina,” Baisden said.
He mentioned that his place of business used to be an “eyesore” before he cleaned it up.
“I am a good business for the community,” Baisden said, adding that whenever folks sell scrap to High Country Recycling, those people drive right into town and spend money.
Baisden mentioned that he has tried to buy materials from the county landfill to no avail.
According to Doty, the county has a employee that drives the scrap metal down the mountain to Kernersville.
Baisden said, “If the county was so concerned about revenue why is the landfill selling to Kernersville. I can give them the same price they are getting and keep the money in this county. I can give them the same price and they would only have to truck it 15 miles instead of 80 miles.”