NORWAY — The Oxford County Regional Recycling Center will remain open, after a majority of its member towns voted Tuesday not to dissolve the Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp.

“It failed. It absolutely failed,” Janet Jamison of Paris, chairman of the corporation board, said Wednesday afternoon of the referendum in area towns.

She said there was confusion about the corporation’s controlling document and wording about its dissolution on the ballot question. The document said dissolution could be obtained by an affirmative vote of a simple majority of the 14 towns to agree to dissolve the corporation, Jamison said.

According to the agreement, member towns had to hold a referendum to make sure each town wanted to terminate the program.

“We’re not bitter,” Jamison said. “We didn’t do our marketing.” 

The towns of Otisfield, Norway, Paris, Bethel, Hanover, Greenwood, Woodstock, Hebron, Newry, Livermore, Gilead, Upton and Lincoln Plantation voted on the request in local referendum questions at Tuesday’s general election.

Election results show that Norway, Hebron, Woodstock, Bethel, Hanover,  Greenwood and Upton voters turned down the request to terminate the joint recycling agreement.

Paris , Newry, Livermore, Otisfield and Lincoln Plantation voted to terminate the corporation.

The town of Denmark decided not to put the question on the general election ballot but rather address it an an upcoming special town meeting, according to Town Manager Christopher Loughlin.

The town of Gilead also did not vote on the question, according  to town officials.

In July, Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. took the first step to dissolve the more-than-20-year-old organization that originally involved about 20 communities when 12 of the remaining 14 municipalities voted to dissolve the corporation.

Escalating transportation costs and a move toward single-stream recycling made the county recycling program obsolete, corporation officials said.

“It has run its course,” said Woodstock Town Manager Vern Maxfield of the program that began in the 1980s. “It was a wonderful program, but recycling has changed. It needs a different emphasis.”

Some towns pulled out of the corporation in the past few years and others, like Woodstock and Greenwood, began recycling with large companies like Pine Tree/Casella. Those that remained in the organization, including Woodstock and Greenwood, continue to pay dues to the corporation, even though they do not send their recyclables to the OCRRC recycling center in Norway.

Warren Sessions Jr., the recycling center manager and a Norway selectman, said Wednesday that he believed some Norway residents, particularly the elderly, may have voted down the request because they were afraid the good service that the recycling center offers now would change if they voted to terminate the agreement.

Norway Town Manager David Holt said he is not sure what was in the voter’s minds but voters may have felt they were voting to end recycling and that might be one of the “flaws” in the referendum style voting.

Maxfield agreed. “I believe that we didn’t do enough explaining so that the citizens really understood what they were voting on,” he said. “I think they thought that it was going to end recycling.”

Maxfield said the remaining towns will work together in different ways to promote the recycling of more materials.

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