Picayune Industries to close

Published 12:11 pm Friday, October 23, 2009

Cuts in legislative funding to the South Mississippi Regional Center have forced the organization to consolidate services in Pearl River County by closing its recycling program in Picayune, one of the few recycling programs it has.

That cut in funding has caused SMRC to move the services, staff and clients currently housed at Picayune Industries, which operates under the SMRC umbrella, to the organization’s Poplarville location. SMRC Facility Director Dorothy McEwen said the organization, which is operated by the Department of Mental Health, caters to people with mental disabilities and provides them with work or rehabilitation services.

Picayune Industries employs nine staff members who work with 39 clients. Poplarville’s location employs six staff members, who work with 30 clients. Both locations offer one of the few recycling programs in Pearl River County.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

All staff members and clients from both locations will be consolidated into the location in Poplarville. McEwen said the Poplarville location was chosen as the site to consolidate services because of it’s significant size. While the Picayune location has about 5,000 square feet, the facility in Poplarville has 14,085 square feet. McEwen said it made common sense to move to the larger facility.

“We’re very committed to providing services to Pearl River County,” McEwen said.

Clients are transported to the location by bus. While parents of SMRC clients will not have to worry about driving their child farther for the child to continue receiving services, those clients might need to take longer bus rides in some cases. Other clients might actually have shorter bus rides, McEwen said.

Not only do clients help with processing recyclable materials, they also work with contracts to produce products for some major companies, such as Oreck, McEwen said.

That extra space in Poplarville will provide SMRC room to grow and expand in Pearl River County, McEwen said. Once consolidated, the Poplarville facility will undergo a name change and be called EmployAbility of Pearl River County.

For a time, the location in Picayune offered recycling services to the surrounding community. Community members were urged to bring in their recyclable materials, such as plastics, aluminum cans and old newspapers and the facility recently cardboard boxes to list with the introduction of a cardboard baler. Earlier this year the City of Picayune loaned its baler to Picayune Industries to help the facility initiate the cardboard recycling.

Some of those recycling services will carry over to the Poplarville location but some will no longer be offered. McEwen said the services that will remain include aluminum can and newspaper recycling. EmployAbility will not accept cardboard boxes or plastic. The move to Poplarville will take place on Monday, Nov. 2.

As for the baler, McEwen said the city has been notified of the site’s closure and is waiting for the city to pick it up.

Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. said the city is in negotiations with Goodwill Industries. That organization may take over where Picayune Industries left off. Pinero said initially it looks like Goodwill will be able to accept the baler and offer the same recycling services.

“Discussions have just started, but we’re on the fast track,” Pinero said.

A representative with Goodwill Industries was not available for comment Thursday afternoon.

While McEwen said there are no plans to reopen the facility in Picayune, the possibility has not been completely ruled out.

There is still one other recycling location in Picayune. The animal shelter accepts cans and newspapers. Shelter Volunteer Director Judy Wheaton said the cans are used to raise funds to provide for the animal’s medical needs. The newspapers are used to line animal cages.

The Animal Shelter also will accept old cat and dog toys. With a rummage sale coming up, the shelter temporarily is willing to accept any thing that might fetch a price. Wheaton said the rummage sale will be the same weekend as the Street Fair, Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8, at the old animal clinic on Telly Road.