REGION — Confusion over a ballot question in the Nov. 8 general election appears to have led to the overwhelming defeat of a plan to terminate the joint recycling agreement and the Oxford County Regional Recycling Corporation.
Voters in more than half the remaining 15 Oxford County towns, townships and plantations involved in the regional program, either voted not to terminate the joint recycling agreement or agreed to hold off on the vote until a future town meeting during the Nov. 8 general election.
In July, Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. took the first step to dissolve the organization when 12 of the remaining 15 municipalities voted to dissolve the corporation by putting it out to a vote. The 20-year-old organization originally involved about 20 communities, but over the years some towns, like Waterford, have opted out to pursue other avenues such as single-stream recycling at their transfer station.
Escalating transportation costs and a move toward single-stream recycling made the county recycling program obsolete, corporation officials said.
According to the agreement, member towns had to hold a referendum to make sure each town wanted to terminate the program. The majority of the towns had to pass the measure by a two-thirds vote.
But of the remaining 15 towns only Otisfield, Norway, Paris, Bethel, Greenwood, Woodstock, Newry and Livermore voted on the request in local referendum questions during the Nov. 8 general election.
Others will have a vote at future town meetings. One town, Hanover, was unaware a vote to terminate was taking place, said OCRRC Chairman Janet Jamison.
Jamison, who said she was appointed chairman of the OCRRC in recent months, said confusion by voters who may have felt a “yes” vote would end recycling, led to the defeat of the measure.
“A lack of marketing and due diligence by board reps lead to this failure,” said Jamison, who was appointed chairman of the OCRRC with a mandate to shut down the “unnecessary” entity (OCRRC).
Some town officials agreed with Jamison’s assessment of the defeat.
Warren Sessions, of the OCCR recycling station and a Norway selectman, said he believed some Norway residents, particularly the elderly, were afraid the good service that the recycling center offers now would change if they voted to terminate the agreement.
“I am not on the board now, but I believe that we didn’t do enough explaining so that the citizens really understood what they were voting on. I think they thought that it was going to end recycling,” said Woodstock Town Manager Vern Maxfield.
“It is unlikely that any of us will notice any difference in our weekly trip to Brown Street with our recyclables,” Holt said of the chance that the OCRRC would dissolve. “The facility will be operated by Norway/Paris Solid Waste instead of 17  county towns. The staff will no longer travel around the county picking up recyclables in other towns.”
Some towns, like Woodstock are already recycling with larger firms such as Pine Tree/Casella, said Maxfield. Others like Milton Township pay to send their recyclables to Greenwood and Woodstock there they are picked up by a recycling company.
Results of Member Community Votes on Dissolution of OCRRC
(Two-thirds vote within each town needed, then simple majority of towns needed to pass measure.)
Bethel: Yes 620 No 931 Needed 1,034 Failed
Denmark: Not on ballot. Will vote at an as of yet unscheduled special town meeting.
Gilead: Not on ballot.
Greenwood: Yes 230 No 217 Needed 298 Failed
Hanover: Not on ballot.
Hebron: Not on ballot. Will vote at annual town meeting in March 2017.
Lincoln Plantation: Results not obtained.
Livermore: Yes 749 No 470 Needed 862, Failed
Newry: Yes 166 No 102 Needed 179, Failed
Norway: Yes 1,173 No 1,338, Needed 1674, Failed
Otisfield: Yes 644 No 416, Needed 707, Failed
Milton Township: Not on ballot.
Paris: Yes 1,074 No 884, Needed 1305, Failed
Upton: Not on ballot.
Woodstock: Yes 247 No 437 Needed 456, Failed