RUMFORD – Selectmen have received an update on a recycling program and OK’d a donation to a neighboring town’s food pantry and a Christmas party for information booth volunteers.

When prompted by Selectman Rob Cameron, Patricia Duguay, executive director of the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, spoke at length about the North Oxford County region’s solid waste management program.

“It’s important that the board hears about the financial benefit” of recycling, Cameron said.

“It’s costing us $50 a ton to landfill our trash, so whatever materials we can keep out, that will be good,” Duguay said.

The area is selling its recyclable waste at $85 a ton, but needs to do a better job of recycling, she said.

“We’re throwing away money when we throw our trash away,” Duguay said.

Citing 2006 figures from a 2007 Maine State Planning Office report, Duguay said that out of 9,263 tons of trash taken to a landfill, 307 tons of trash were recycled for a savings of $15,350.

“In 2006, we were recycling at a 26 percent rate. We should be at a 50 percent rate. … There is an opportunity to do a better job. If you want to force people to recycle their garbage, you need to charge them for their garbage,” Duguay said.

In other business, Mexico resident Reggie Arsenault sought a donation from Rumford for the Greater Rumford Area Ministers and Priests Association food pantry in Mexico.

During a recent bottle drive, Scouts raised $565 from more than 9,000 cans and bottles, enabling the pantry to by 447 pieces of food. More is needed.

“A lot of our older people and people who are poor are in for a rough winter ahead,” Arsenault said. “In August, our food pantry had 90 clients seeking food instead of the usual 25. They are in need of dire help.”

When asked, Town Manager Len Greaney said the money could be taken from his contingency fund.

Selectman Mark Belanger suggested giving money equally to Rumford’s food pantry to help, but Mexico food pantry worker Stephanie Wilson said that if people get food from the Mexico pantry, they can’t then go to the Rumford pantry seeking it, and vice versa. She, too, pleaded to selectmen for help.

“We’ve tripled the number of people coming in,” she said. “You’ve got a lot of people in town that need food. … Anything you can donate to either pantry would be appreciated.”

Belanger motioned to give both pantries $50, but Selectman Frank DiConzo said that wasn’t enough. He bumped it to $100 each and the board unanimously OK’d it.

The board also approved:

• Sending Greaney’s letter of support and congratulations to SAD 43 staff and the state champion Mountain Valley High School Falcons football team. “This year’s team has touched us in a special way,” Greaney said, reading from the letter.

• River Valley Chamber of Commerce Administrator Cherri Crockett’s request to use $250 from the chamber’s saving account to continue tradition and host a Christmas party for the information booth’s 15 volunteers and present each with a gift. The board also authorized Crockett to spend $340 to buy area-themed, multi-season T-shirts for volunteers to wear while working to set them apart from visitors.

• Community Concepts bid to help get and administer a $250,000 community development block grant in exchange for a 15 percent cut of the grant, or $37,500. “A municipality could try to do it all themselves, but it’s virtually impossible,” Greaney said in backing the project’s lone bidder.

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