OSAWATOMIE — Eleven benches made from 100 percent recycled materials have been installed at various locations around Osawatomie as part of the Community Bench Project.
Several Osawatomie organizations and entities partnered with the Lake Region Solid Waste Authority (LRSWA) to submit an application under the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Tire Grant Program to fund the project.
In addition to the KDHE tire grant, funding for the project was provided by contributions from the Osawatomie Rotary Club, city of Osawatomie, Osawatomie Chamber of Commerce and Osawatomie PRIDE.
Park benches were installed at the following locations:
- Three park benches at the playground areas around Osawatomie Lake
- One park bench at the Soldiers’ Monument
- One park bench at the outdoor Family Fitness Park
- Six trail benches at various school bus stops around town.
The Lake Region Solid Waste Authority is a group of six neighboring counties who work together to solve solid waste issues, build recycling facilities, dispose of household hazardous waste properly, and encourage the public to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”.
A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Thursday, Nov. 18, in front of the new bench at the Soldiers’ Monument, located at the corner of Ninth and Main streets.
Shay Hanysak, regional coordinator of LRSWA, talked about the bench project and future grant opportunities.
“As the regional coordinator, part of my job responsibilities includes promoting grant opportunities, like KDHE’s Waste Tire and Solid Waste grant programs within the six counties and offering assistance to cities, schools, and community organizations who might be interested in applying for project funding,” Hanysak said. “I say that this is part of my job, but I am happy to admit that there is definitely a lot of personal satisfaction in being able to do my job and help contribute to such a wonderful project in my own community.”
In this grant period, there were only 47 grants awarded by KDHE, totaling almost $500,000, Hanysak said.
She said this is not the end of the grant opportunities. The current waste tire grant application period just opened on Monday and will run until Jan 15.
There is already interest from Osawatomie USD 367 to apply for pour-in-place cover on the new playground at Swenson and benches and picnic table for the pool areas at the Ozone, Hanysak said.
“It is my hope that the success of this project will not only help to promote Osawatomie as a positive example, but also be used to inspire other communities in the surrounding area to apply for the grants and take on similar projects,” she said.
Other officials scheduled to offer remarks at dedication were Wes Duncan, president of Osawatomie PRIDE; Kari Bradley, executive director of the Osawatomie Chamber of Commerce, and Trevor Ballou, with the city of Osawatomie and the project manager.
Mayor Mark Govea delivered the opening remarks and introduced the speakers.
“I’m really pleased with our decision to be environmentally conscious in taking advantage of this KDHE Tire Grant Program,” Govea said afterward. “I feel honored that Osawatomie was one of the only 47 organizations awarded funding. This may seem like a small thing, but I see it as a big step in our mindset bringing together some of our local groups like our Rotary, our Chamber of Commerce, our PRIDE working with the city of Osawatomie to make our community a cleaner, more environmentally friendly place to live.”
Recycling waste tires into public benches, outdoor tables and other functional products keeps approximately 110 million tires from ending up in landfills across the country, according to the program distributed at the dedication.