The May 29 wind storm caused an estimated $25 million in damage to public and private property in the county, and more than 800 tons of felled tree debris. Now, some of those arboreal casualties of the wind storm are being put to good use, said Tiffany Eichorst, Calhoun County solid waste director.
The county hired Mid-Michigan Recycling to take care of the enormous pile of brush sitting at the Community Compost Center in Marengo Township, Eichorst said. Mid-Michigan supplies wood waste to Genesee Power Station in Flint. The two-story stack of felled limbs has been awaiting the funds needed to fulfill its fate since it began to grow in June.
“The pile was just growing,” Eichorst said. “It was enormous.”
When Mid-Michigan did its first estimate, it was determined that the pile was 800 tons, said Aaron Hess, manager of wood waste recovery. But at that time, the pile was only one-third the size it was Wednesday, when Hess took a break from his large mechanical loader to talk to the Enquirer.
Hess and two others were working as a team to get the great logs loaded into a long wood-chipping machine. The wood entered the machine on one end as dead tree limbs, logs and sticks. After the grumble of grinding wood, they emerged on the other side from a conveyor belt which put the transformed trees onto growing piles of mulch.
“It all goes toward green power,” Hess said. Mid-Michigan will take all the mulch to Genesee Power, which uses wood fuel to create electricity sold to Consumers Energy.
It will take at least eight days to complete the wood chipping, which Mid-Michigan began Tuesday. The county has given Mid-Michigan a $30,000 budget — and Hess doesn’t know if that will be enough to eliminate all the wood waste in the pile, he said.
“There’s a possibility, but I think it’s going to be pretty close,” Hess said.
The money used to hire Mid-Michigan comes from the Calhoun County Solid Waste Management Fund, a fund filled by the C&C Landfill and used only for recycling, Eichorst said. The county’s Solid Waste Committee decided that getting rid of the pile of debris in Marshall was an appropriate use of those dollars, Eichorst said.