Commissioners help fund intern program

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners agreed to help fund a summer internship program for local college students interested in recycling and other environmental issues.

Commissioners voted at Wednesday’s meeting to transfer a maximum of $5,000 to the Solid Waste District that serves Columbiana, Carroll and Harrison counties, to help fund the internship program proposed by waste district educator Eric Matthews.

The waste district operates the recycling plan in the three counties, and as part of those efforts Matthews is recommending creating an internship program for two to three college students from the county. The interns would spend the summer assisting district staff while learning about the recycling program, writing grants, environmental education programs, preparing reports, bookkeeping and other office duties.

Matthews said the ideal candidates would be college students majoring in environmental science, environmental engineering, geology, education or biology.

The internship would be for eight weeks during the summer, with the interns paid $8 an hour and working an average of 20 hours per work. Matthews estimated each position would require $1,600 in funding to cover benefits and associated costs. The $5,000 provided by commissioners is expected to be enough to pay for the three positions.

The money will come from the county’s tipping fee, which was set up after a state law was passed in the early 2000s requiring construction and demolition debris landfill operators pay a per ton disposal fee to the county. The fund currently has a balance of $34,000, and the money can only be used on environmentally related expenses.

Before considering a motion to provide the funding, Commission Chairman Mike Halleck described the internship program as a good idea.

In related news, Chris Jacobs is stepping down March 31 as Solid Waste District director to take a job managing two local short-line railroads -one operated in the Minerva area by the Ohi-Rail Corp. and the other owned by the county Port Authority but operated by a landfill company in Negley.

Commissioners serve on the Solid Waste District advisory board, and Commissioner Jim Hoppel said they are contemplating dividing Jacob’s duties between Matthews and the district’s administrative assistant, Barbara Walton.