Choctaw Nation recognized as Clean Community
Department of Environmental Quality Deputy Executive Director Jimmy Givens presents the Oklahoma Clean Community to the Choctaw Nation – Assistant Chief Gary Batton and Director of Project Management Tracy Horst.
A special ceremony was held June 19 at the Recycling Center in Durant to recognize the Choctaw Nation as an Oklahoma Clean Community.
“Over the last couple of years. The Choctaw Nation has partnered with other communities to hold recycling events during which over 7,000 tires have been collected that would otherwise have ended up in dumps,” said Deputy Executive Director Jimmy Givens of the Department of Environmental Quality. “These events have provided residents and tribal members a safe and effective way to dispose of tires as well as other recyclables.”
DEQ encourages entities to coordinate community-wide cleanups of used tires. DEQ’s Tire Indemnity Fund will pay to haul off old, unused, or abandoned tires. Tire piles can be an eyesore and attract unwelcome pests, such as mosquitoes and rodents. After a community has completed at least one cleanup event, it is then eligible to become an Oklahoma Clean Community.
Givens was very impressed at the interest in the Choctaw Nation’s endeavors and what a broad section of the community has become involved. “We would also like to recognize those of you who are collaborating with the Choctaw Nation in making this a reality,” Givens continued from the podium, a mountain of recyclable material behind him. “We want to commend you for being a partner in resourcing efforts and to encourage you to encourage others to become involved.”
The Choctaw Nation’s Green Team started recycling aluminum cans, printer cartridges and Christmas cards in late 2008. “It just exploded into a little bit of everything,” said Tracy Horst, director of Project Management and the Green Team. “The Chief, Assistant Chief and Tribal Council have been supportive and the employees have been very active. I can’t say enough about the Going Green team and recycling crew for all the hard work they do.”
A Department of Energy grant kicked off the nation’s full-scale recycling initiative in October 2009 with four employees. The Durant facility opened in December 2010. During that month of December, the facility recycled 14,000 pounds.
The number of staff has doubled and the center is now recycling more than 14 times the original 14,000 pounds each month. A second recycling facility opened in January in Poteau, partially funded by the Administration of Native Americans. Its two employees are already recycling over 20,000 pounds per month. Horst estimates the Choctaw Nation will reach a total of 5 million pounds of recycled materials by the end of this year.
If you would like to keep up to date with the Choctaw Nation’s recycling efforts visit the Going Green Facebook page .