TAVARES — The National Association of Counties (NACo) has awarded Lake County with two distinguished Achievement Awards, which recognize innovative county government programs. Lake County officials were alerted this week that the two programs to be honored at an annual NACo Conference in August were the Sharps Disposal and Home Heating Oil Recovery programs.
“The national recognition affirms Lake County’s commitment to public safety and environmental protection,” said Gary Kaiser, Director of Public Safety and Interim Director of Environmental Services — the two Lake County departments honored this year by NACo.
Since 1994, Lake County has been recognized 24 times with NACo Achievement Awards. Last year, NACo awarded the Lake County Department of Public Safety, Animal Services Division, for its pet-friendly shelter program, which allows residents and their pets to seek shelter from hurricanes and other disasters under one roof. The NACo Achievement Awards are given in more than 20 categories, ranging from historic preservation to volunteerism. In this 37th year of the program, the winners represent 27 states and 95 counties. The winning Lake County programs are:
Sharps Disposal Program — Allows any resident of Lake County to visit one of the County’s 16-staffed fire stations to pick up a free Voyager container. The container promotes the safe disposal of biohazardous medical waste, such as syringes with attached needles and disposable lancets.
By placing a syringe in the container and twisting the top, the Voyager safely disposes of the used needle and a small portion of the syringe. The process destroys the disposable syringe preventing any possible reuse or needle-stick injuries. A container can hold more than 120 individual 1cc insulin syringe needles, accepts most lancets and functions with all brands of insulin syringes.
Unlike most containers that require special disposal, the Voyager container is safe to throw away with household trash. Residents who cannot afford to purchase Sharps disposal containers at local pharmacies are encouraged to participate in the Lake County Sharps Disposal Program. For more information about the program, call Jack Fillman, Lake County Fire Rescue Assistant Chief of Administration, at (352) 343-9458.
Home Heating Oil Recovery Program —Encourages homeowners in the cities and the unincorporated areas of Lake County to join in the fight against soil and water pollution by locating and properly draining fuel oil from old tanks.
The service is provided at no cost to homeowners and is financed by the Pollution Recovery Trust Fund. The fund receives money from civil penalties imposed for polluting the environment. Homeowners can call (352) 343-3776 ext. 248 to arrange for draining of their home-heating oil tanks and proper disposal of the recovered oil.
“The old tanks used prior to the 1970s corrode, allowing remaining fuel oil to leak out and seep into the aquifer,” said Charlie Cox, an Environmental Services inspector. “Many of these tanks, long forgotten, are now being discovered as the older houses are remodeled. If homeowners have a heating oil tank on their property that is no longer being used, we want to help them dispose of the fuel in an environmentally safe way.”