Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Team Tinker

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Team Tinker

Article excerpt

National defense and air space supremacy no longer stand as the sole mission for the United States Air Force in the 1990s. Kinship with an investment in local and surrounding communities, that generously share their land, municipalities, highways, and other resources, are now part of the Air Force's bigger picture. This responsibility transcends from airmen to commanders, their spouses and children, and civilian Department of Defense employees.

Many bases display their gratitude periodically or annually by hosting air shows, open houses, Honor Guard performances, and bv contracting with local businesses. These activities add military flavor and tradition to the community and boost the economy.

Aside from these special events, everyday practices compound these benefits over the course of time. One such positive example for surrounding communities, as well as air bases, is recycling and resource management programs.

Tinker Air Force Base is a front-runner in Department of Defense recycling programs. Tinker is centrally located in the greater Oklahoma City area, home to more than one million people. The land of green meadows, woods, small mountainous regions, and more than 200 lakes and waterways is rich in heritage and diverse culture.

Tinker's 72nd Services Division Qualified Recycling Program (QRP) recycles wood, metal, glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper (telephone books, cardboard and newsprint). Recently its wood recycling operation, the largest of its kind in Air Force, was made more efficient with the purchase of a new wood chip grinder.

QRP Chief Russell Staton explained that when wood recycling first began at Tinker, the operation was slow, costly and required manual loading. "We had 15 employees putting wood onto a conveyor belt 24 hours a day." Later, QRP purchased a Maxigrinder that made the operation somewhat more efficient but did not keep up with the demand.

A new Maxigrinder made its debut at the Partners on the Prairie Environmental Exhibition conducted by the base's Environmental Management Division this past spring. This latest model has a grappler (an arm and claw) used to pluck wood up and feed it into a grinder chipper. A single operator in the Maxigrinder cab controls the grappler, grinder chipper, conveyor, and trailer. Pallets, tree limbs and crates pour into the machine whole, and back out onto a conveyor belt that transports the chips into a trailer. Staton says of the improvements, "Now we have one employee filling a trailer in five hours. Once the trailer is full, it is towed 200 miles to deliver its 20 tons of wood to Valiant, Oklahoma. There it is used as a natural gas substitute.

"Our wood chipping operation is so successful that currently no wood from the base goes into landfills," said Staton. He adds that no other Air Force depot recycles wood on the same scale as Tinker. There are 33 wood containers located on the base and at least 10 of those come into the center daily. We owe a lot of thanks to LaWanda Lawrence from the Environmental Management Pollution Prevention Division for helping us acquire the new Maxigrinder for QRP," says Staton. Lawrence is a solid waste program manager who records base reduction in landfill disposal and develops projects to enhance environmental programs.

Wood recycling is only a portion of QRP'S effort to prevent Tinker's potential resources from ending up in landfilis, explained Staton. …

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