**This article has been updated to better reflect the subjects mentioned
by HANNAH BROADBENT
The Douglas Kugler Eco-Site is closing in Watertown. Executive Director Kevin Dietrich said he cannot give a specific date of when the closure will be b
ut said they will do their best to give the county a 30 to 60 day notice of when that day will be.
“We are trying to keep it open as long as possible,” Dietrich said.
He said the site in Watertown is one of three, the others being sites in Winsted and Hutchinson. Dietrich said the Watertown location employees 16 clients of the Adult Training and Habilitation Center. The original design was for 40 employees but due to licensing issues and the equipment workers handle, they lost two-thirds of their workforce right off the bat according to Dietrich.
The ALHS provides non-vocational day programming for adults with disabilities and assist them in finding offsite and in house jobs. Dietrich said they are placed all over the area including hospitals in Waconia, lunch ladies in Winstead Elementary School and of course at the Kugler Recycling center.
“They are all disappointed at the closing, we are trying to make the transition as easy as possible,” he said.
Dietrich said the ATHC is working to transition some of the workers to one of the other two sites, or work elsewhere for them as well. He said that is why they are unsure of the closing date at this time.
According to Dietrich the site has been unable to make money. Last year the Watertown location lost $200,000. He said it’s also bringing down the other two sites in their non-profit.
“For example, last month we compacted 40,000 lbs. of recycling, and made only $1,600,” he said.
Dietrich said it’s terribly disappointing because it provided an opportunity for the community and workers to interact with each other and have a relationship.
“I love seeing the people there, their enthusiasm is special and I’m sad to see it go,” said county commissioner Tim Lynch.
Long time Watertown resident Louann Eaton found out about the closing by word of mouth. She said her and her husband regularly utilize the center. She said she sees the people there frequently and she can’t help but notice how proud they are to be there.
“It’s going to affect the whole community, it’s always buzzing in there,” she said.
She said she has never had to ask for help there, she said the workers dig right in and it goes a long way for her.
The eco-site has had other roles in the community as well. A thrift shop runs out of the site, and according to Carver County News’ website, the site has volunteered regularly and helped in local disasters. In 2013, a fire affected the NYA Waste Management facility – 30 ATHC employees stepped up to help with the cleanup.
Dietrich said he meets monthly with the county and will notify them when they have decided on a closing date. At that time they will help find alternatives for residents to bring their recycling. The building will be put up for sale as well.
CCN will notify the public with more information.