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On schools and garbage

Garbage and education.

Those are prominent topics in East Otter Tail County right now. And if you read through this week's edition of the Enterprise Bulletin, you can learn why.

These subjects have little--or everything--to do with each other, depending on how you look at it.

If you're looking to the future, funding for East Otter Tail schools and funding for a regional solid waste solution (one that includes the Perham incinerator facility) are crucial topics.

If you're looking to the past...well... Then you can keep burying your garbage in landfills--and you can keep burying your head in the sand as far as public school funding.

Let's start with the schools.

Specifically, the Perham school district.

Voters are urged to attend an August 19 school board meeting, 6 p.m. at city hall. This will be your chance to speak out and also to learn about the levy referendum vote that is slated for Nov. 3.

School officials are hoping for a broad spectrum of voters for this meeting--not only those die-hard school supporters. They want people with all opinions, including those who have other ideas about how, and how much, the school should be funded.

Meanwhile, on the garbage front, there are officials from seven counties exploring the possibilities of a regional solid waste collaboration.

And at the geographic center is Perham, and its Resource Recovery Facility incineration operation. There's more on the subject in the "Community Builder: Going Green" special edition this week.

Underlying the solid waste discussion among officials from Otter Tail, Becker, Clay, Hubbard, Cass, Wadena and Todd counties is the question over landfilling--and whether it is an appropriate long-term solution.

As a "waste-to-energy" facility, the Perham plant burns solid waste and converts it to steam and electricity--which is then sold to Tuffy's Pet Foods, Bongards' Creameries and Otter Tail Power.

From our standpoint, it's as clean a solution as we have in dealing with the messy problem of garbage. But don't take our word for it. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the federal Environmental Protection Agency favor "waste-to-energy" as a preferred method of solid waste disposal--after composting and recycling; but ahead of landfilling. The Perham plant, well-run and environmentally sound, is in an excellent position to serve as a regional facility.

In the coming months, voters and taxpayers have an opportunity to share their views on the subject of school funding and garbage. Let's not bury our heads in the sand--or in the garbage.