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Landfill groups form REACH
Watchdog groups promote environmental education.
JENNIFER KOVACS

HUBBARD — A leader of a local anti-landfill organization announced this week that a new regional non-profit agency has been formed through the joining of other watchdog groups in order to promote environmental education.

‘‘We are pretty much within the Northeast Ohio corridor. We aligned all the groups together,’’ said Rick Hernandez, communications director for the newly formed Regional Environmental Alliance for Community Health (REACH).

The organization is made up of representatives from Hubbard Environmental Land Protection (HELP); Girard United Against Ruinous Dumping (GUARD); Citizens Against Lordstown Landfills (CALL) and Our Lives Count (OLC) out of Warren.

Based on its motto, ‘‘Save the Earth. Start with Ohio,’’ REACH is aiming to work on a state and federal level to combat environmental issues facing the area by providing each groups’ own networking ability as well as the needed educational materials.

‘‘We thought it would be more powerful, and it would raise more awareness if the groups combined,’’ Hernandez said.

With OLC successful in achieving stricter regulations for dumping in construction and demolition debris (C&DD) landfills, like at its own Warren Recycling, the other groups have battled proposed landfills in Hubbard and Girard as well as the operation of the Lefarge landfill in Lordstown.

‘‘The demand of the issue for communities is pretty great,’’ said Debbie Roth, of OLC, which originally started out small and now has branched out as far as Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

Roth said her personal goals for the establishment of REACH is to educate citizens on what threats may be in their neighborhoods and what they can do when those threats become apparent — something that, unfortunately, she said has not happened in the past.

‘‘By the time they get up to speed on education, a lot of initiatives they could have taken have already passed,’’ Roth said. ‘‘We just want to be able to pass that knowledge along.’’

Those tips provided could be as simple as warning people that if railroad lines run through their neighborhood, they run a risk of having a landfill built nearby, Hernandez said.

But REACH aims to educate on more issues than landfill concerns.

Roth said that could be something like informing citizens on what to do with toxic mold found in the home or of the importance of recycling.

Roth added that many times when people find themselves in potentially fearful situations, like facing a proposed C&DD landfill, they may feel as though they are the fist to go through something like that and that having someone who knows the situation from a citizen’s viewpoint can be refreshing.

‘‘We want to offer support to individuals who have that,’’ she said. ‘‘People get frustrated because they don’t understand how this can happen.’’

Now through REACH, residents all over the region will have a group to turn to, and peers who not only know how it feels to be up against an environmental threat, but also who have the know-how to work with local, state and federal officials and agencies to fight back.

And forming that pool of knowledge is something Roth said REACH members are very excited about.

‘‘Together, everyone does have the same goal,’’ she said. http://www.tribune-chronicle.com
Written By:  http://www.tribune-chronicle.com/News/articles.asp?articleID=19845 
Date Posted: 2007-07-02  

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