Watertown’s ATHC provides a little neighborly help

Elysia Hillmyer, Program Director at the Adult Training and Habilitation Center in Watertown, poses with some of the additional recycling materials the facility is taking in after a recent fire at the Waste Management facility in Norwood Young America. (Submitted photo)

Elysia Hillmyer, Program Director at the Adult Training and Habilitation Center in Watertown, poses with some of the additional recycling materials the facility is taking in after a recent fire at the Waste Management facility in Norwood Young America. (Submitted photo)

After a fire on Tuesday, April 30, at the Waste Management facility in Norwood Young America, the staff and clients at the Adult Training & Habilitation Center (ATHC) in Watertown have been busy.

Thanks to the neighboring spirit of Executive Director Martha Brannon, ATHC and its 30 employees — individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities — have been taking in the recycling that can no longer be processed at the Waste Management site.

Brannon heard about the fire early Tuesday morning after Harriet Woottenn, a concerned Chaska citizen, contacted her curious about the outcome of the recycling processed at the Waste Management site. Brannon quickly reached out, offering the assistance of ATHC, which already processes recycling from the local community at the Douglas Kugler Eco Site in Watertown. The first load from Waste Management was dropped off later the same day. The goal of ATHC is to promote, advance and administer employment for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, which the Watertown location does through its Eco Site.

“We contacted our local Waste Management and offered to have them temporarily drop their recycling loads here to be processed,” Brannon said.

Although most organizations charge to have loads dropped, Brannon chose not to.

“We are assisting our neighbors in this situation temporarily, so we didn’t feel we should charge a drop fee,” she said.

The increase in recycled materials at ATHC means more work and hours for employees of the site and clients from the county.

“Our first goal will always be to provide work for people with disabilities in our community,” Brannon said. “This site does that through our recycling program. This site also disassembles car seats, DVD cases, detergent caps and used holiday lights for reuse/recycling of the various components. They have also opened a large Thrift Shop at their Winsted location, which Brannon describes as “the ultimate in reuse”.

In the past two weeks, Watertown-Mayer has dropped about 170 yards of mixed recyclables at the ATHC site, which only holds about 80 yards at a time.

“We’re processing a lot more than normal and have been very busy,” Program Director Elysia Hillmyer said as she maneuvered through a crowded warehouse.

Aiding Waste Management has resulted in more work for the seven staff members and roughly 30 clients, but also an improved use of ATHC’s services by other local recycling collection agencies.

“We wanted an increased awareness of the facility, because many didn’t even know we were here,” Brannon said.

ATHC will also be hosting its 20th annual golf fundraiser on June 14 to raise funding for the non-profit. Local businesses and individuals are encouraged to golf, contribute to the silent auction and purchase raffle tickets as part of this event at Crow River Golf Club in Hutchinson. For more information about the tournament, ATHC or how you can get involved contact Martha Brannon, 320-485-4191, Martha.brannon@athc.org.

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