Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Concerns over recycling reheat Facebook debate

 

October 17, 2019

Victoria Smithey/Pine Bluffs Post

Above: Janna Kestner, Michael "Bubba" Ragsdale and Carleen Graves of Pine Bluffs Town Council.

Councilwoman Janna Kestner has been very vocal since her election about the towns need for better communication. She has brought up the idea of a town Facebook page on several occasions, but this last week saw a couple of citizens openly upset about the Pine Bluffs recycling policy. In a Facebook post that originated on October 9th some of the citizens of Pine Bluffs were upset to discover that the local recycling was not being picked up by the recycling truck, but was instead being picked up with the trash. The original Facebook poster then got a hold of Kestner in an effort to find out what was going on.

In talking with some of the town officials, recycling has been an issue in the past. There had been some damage to the recycling truck, there were residents actively throwing trash into the recycling bins causing Cheyenne to refuse our recycling, and there was needed work to the trash system causing the recycling to take a back seat. While officials can understand the frustration on the part of residents, there is also some frustration on the part of town workers. While some citizens may feel that communication is lacking, some council members are struggling with exactly what to do to remedy this issue.

Currently the Town of Pine Bluffs has a website as well as disseminating information on the Pine Bluff Recreational Facebook page. There is also a Facebook page for the fire department and the police department. Those who choose not to use their computers for information can also get a memo on their town bill as well as postings hung in the town hall and in the post office. Kestner is campaigning for a separate Facebook page for important town information only. "I'm advocating for an additional avenue of communication. Getting the word out through the paper, through flyers, our website, are all strong means of informing our public. I want us to add to that and create a social media presence, such as with Facebook, where the Town can post major issues and updates for said issues as well as use it as a platform to inform our citizens of the challenges we face (as with recycling)." Stated Kestner.

The problem, as some town officials see it, is that there are several avenues of communication open to residents now, and not everyone will actively participate in those arenas. For example, the "Code Red" system set up now only has approximately 200 residents registered. Getting people to register for the system has been a problem according to Kim Patterson. "We have tried everything. We even had a raffle to give away 100 dollar gift cards just to get people to sign up." Patterson said. Unfortunately there is not going to be one easy answer for every resident in town.

One of the issues, as Kestner sees it, is that because there is not one place to get important information often people will fall victim to gossip or partial information which is one of the reasons she continues to push the social media issue. "Such a presence would help to cut down on misinformation and frustration and provide a go-to place for accurate and up to date information." Stated Kestner. When asked about the already heavy workload for the town officials Kestner was quick to point out that she did not envision the Facebook page as a daily operation. "I don't envision this Facebook page being a daily addition to the already full working day of our Town employees but one done out of necessity. For example, we could post updates about our high nitrate levels and the steps the Town is taking to protect our water; we can use Facebook for issues like recycling, to let citizens know their bill may be late in the mail, when and where to vote, and any matter the police department needs spread to citizens. In addition, a social media presence is a useful tool for the economic development of our small community. We should utilize this cheap, efficient, mass means of communication to better help our community and to shine a light on issues the town faces so as to provide our citizens with accurate and readily available information." Kestner stated.

At the end of the day there isn't going to be one solution that will fit everyone. Some residents simply don't use Facebook, and so information on that, or any other social media, wouldn't get to them. Other residents use social media on a daily basis, so finding a balance between the two may not be an easy task. For residents like Anna Thomas, who take recycling very serious, the most important thing is just knowing so that they can take appropriate steps. "When we realized that they weren't collecting the recycling here in town we decided to take it to Cheyenne ourselves. We clean it, separate it, and pay the dollar fee to drop it off." Stated Thomas. For now, those residents that would like to continue recycling, can also look into that option.

Kestner was adamant that there are many things that the town does well, and that she would like to see this push as just once more option to allow residents to be more informed. For those residents that have strong opinions either way there is always a place to have your voices heard. If you know your local council members you can always call one of them, like Anna Thomas did. For those who are unaware of who the local council members are, there are town meetings on the first and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. that are open to the public.

The best way to have your voice heard is to use it. Council members are Janna Kestner, Michael "Bubba" Ragsdale, Thomas Mohren, and Donn Randall, and they represent you. If you are not registered on the "Code Red" system please visit http://www.pinebluffs.gov and take a minute to register with the system. If you do not follow the Pine Bluffs Rec page on your Facebook just pull it up and check it out, some of the information you're looking for may be there. As a last resort there are also postings on the front of the town hall building and on the door of the post office.

Kestner would like to hear from those residents that may have suggestions regarding the communication issue. She is also aware that not every resident would be open to a Facebook page. "This is just one more tool for improved communication with our community. I encourage the community to reach out if they have any additional ideas on how we can work together as a team in a manner that is more efficient and effective." Said Kestner. The next town council meeting is on October 21st. For those residents that feel strongly either way, you are encouraged to attend.

 

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