Former water tank home to Bertram recycle center


Staff Writer
In a smaller town with limited recycling options, the Bertram Recycling Center offers residents a way to recycle most all eligible household waste items, and naturally they do it with their own bit of small-town charm.

Located on the edge of Downtown Bertram, the recycling center itself was put into a recycled building – the old Bertram water storage tank.

“We started looking around for a good spot. That’s when we saw the water tower,” Says Ken Odiorne, co-founder of the recycling center. “The well had run dry a few years before, and they weren’t using it. We thought it just might make the perfect spot.”

For Odiorne, it is.

“When I was mayor, I said, ‘Let’s do this.’ It took us until the next mayor to get it going, but we did, and it’s still here.”

Odiorne was the first mayor of Bertram after incorporation, and at the time, he “wasn’t much of a morning person.” But he had a habit of looking around and seeing simple ways to create things the town needed.

Odiorne is credited with being one of the original creators of the Oatmeal Festival, a yearly event held around Labor Day.

At the recycling center, volunteers work to sort through the various items, placing them in neat barrels, bins and trailers.

Odiorne works to make the recycling dollars work for the community as well. An Abitibi Paper Retriever paper recycling bin placed on-site is emptied, with proceeds going to Bertram Elementary. Money from the sale of recycled metal goes to various organizations, and was recently used to purchase a new bingo set for the Bertram Senior Center. Austin outfit Ecology Action drives to Bertram weekly to pick up items. The glass is taken to a glass crusher in Johnson City, to be turned into a special gravel mix.

Currently, the Bertram Recycling Center accepts sorted #1, #2, #3-7 plastics, metals including tin cans and tin foil, paper, cardboard and glass.

“When it’s pre-sorted, and washedout, it’s a real nice thing,” says Odiorne.

The recycling center is volunteer-run, with Odiorne being assisted by one regular helper, and one transport helper.

“We’re all over the age of 70 though, so we’re always looking for young volunteers,” he said.

Bertram Recycling Center used to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but due to a few theft incidents, they have shortened the hours to 8 a.m. to dark.

Find the center at “the north end of West Street.” If you bring items, make sure to rinse out any liquids, to curb insect infestation, remove lids from plastic bottles for easier crushing, and it puts a smile on Odiorne’s face if things are pre-sorted properly. At least, it says so on the various instruction signs around the recycling center.

“They like to tease me a little bit about my signs. But, it’s the way to get the information out there,” he says of the typed and hand-written signs. “You get people coming in here, they need to know what to do to keep it all running.”