COAL TOWNSHIP - Commissioners said the township's recycling tonnage was down slightly in December, partly due to competition from The News-Item.

Board Chairman Craig Fetterman said at Thursday night's meeting that 54,000 pounds was collected at the township recycling center last month, and noted reestablishment of paper and cardboard recycling by the newspaper Nov. 11.

"We have a little competition on the recycling front now," he said.

Commissioner George Zalar made a motion to send the newspaper a letter asking it to take its collection of paper products to the township recycling center. No second was made on the motion, but Fetterman let his thoughts be known.

"What got our ire was when the material (price) was down, (The News-Item) got out of the business, but now that the (price) is up, they got back in the business," he said during the board's brief discussion.

But he categorized the impact as "slight," and said, "recycling is good no matter who does it."

News-Item Publisher Greg Zyla said reestablishment of the recycling program had nothing to do with pricing, but was related to his return to management of the newspaper Oct. 1.

He said the recycling program has generated important revenue for the newspaper over the years.

"The income we receive from our wastepaper program helps keep someone employed," he said, adding he did not want to disclose how much the paper earns through recycling.

Zyla said The News-Item received a number of complaints when the practice was curtailed about five years ago.

He said readers who do business at the newspaper enjoy the convenience of dropping off their recyclable paper products at the same time.

Zyla noted the tonnage is reported to the city of Shamokin, which reports it to the state as part of its recycling efforts.

"We're not trying to hurt Coal Township; we're trying to bring back what we had before and to keep our workers employed," he said.

In addition to paper and cardboard, the township recycling center also handles plastics, bi-metal and aluminum cans, clear, green and brown glass and CFL light bulbs, plus yard waste and tree limbs, and electronics one day a week.