Local couple fears dropping off recycling could put health at risk

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BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Clinton Tucker and his wife, Margi normally bring their recyclables to the Bella Vista Recycling Center.

“At this time I have stopped taking my recycling in,” Tucker said. “And I don’t like that because we’re kind of environmentalists.”

Tucker said in early July, an unmasked staff member got too close, which he felt put his health in danger.

“I stepped back a ways and I said, ‘Sir. Can you please distance yourself from me?’ Tucker said. “And he said, ‘No, I don’t have to. I don’t have to wear any safety gear. I don’t have to do anything. We don’t have any rules here.'”

“We make it optional to the employees and the volunteers. We provide the masks and gloves if they want it,” said volunteer and president of the center’s board, Paul Poulides. “But they’re not mandated.”

Poulides said he talked to both the mayor and state staff about the situation.

“The person I talked to there said, ‘Well aren’t you outside with these people?’ I said ‘Yes, it’s always outside. Nobody comes inside.'”

Tucker said even though masks are not required, other Benton County facilities have taken a different approach to suggestions outlined by the CDC.

“There are signs as you drive up telling you you must be wearing a face mask,” Tucker said. “You must stay in your vehicle. And if you do not go by these rules, they’ll ask you to leave.”

The Fayetteville Center also has rules in place.

“We’ve asked all of our employees to have masks,” said Heather Ellzey, environmental educator for the City of Fayetteville. “Also, any of our employees that are out in our trucks, we’re all going to be wearing masks.”

Poulides said after a board meeting last week, the policy has been updated.

“We voted unanimously that any employee or volunteer that’s working out front where the public comes is required to wear a mask,” Poulides said.

While masks are required outdoors while dealing with the public, they will still be optional indoors where only employees are allowed.

Poulides went on to say bins and equipment are sanitized every morning.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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