Residents, officials discuss emergency preparedness, food scrap collection at ward meeting


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) speaks at an event. Emergency preparedness, job opportunities and a food scrap collection service were discussed at a 9th Ward meeting Saturday.

Alane Lim, Reporter

City officials and residents discussed emergency preparedness, job opportunities and a food scrap collection service at a 9th Ward meeting Saturday morning.

About 10 people attended the event, during which Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th), Evanston Fire Department division chief Dwight Hohl, community services manager Kevin Brown and residents spoke about EFD workshops and recruitment, youth employment and an option for food waste reduction.  

Hohl — who helps the fire department with emergency management — said EFD  plans to teach residents how to handle small emergencies through “preparedness workshops.” They will include training in CPR, first aid and handling fire extinguishers, Hohl added.

“We want Evanston to be ready,” Hohl said.“That’s our goal. If you are ready to handle your immediate emergency before we get there, then that makes us as a community a lot more prepared to handle emergencies.”

The department is currently looking for firefighters, and Hohl noted Evanston has more inclusive requirements for firefighter applicants than other cities. City Council recently approved a grant to offset some of the application and testing costs for Evanston residents who want to become firefighters.

EFD takes new recruits “as is” and trains them, Hohl said. According to the city website, applicants must be between 21 and 35 years old and if over 35, currently be a “firefighter/paramedic” in Illinois.

“(The training) is very expensive, but the city does that because (it) wants residents to be a part of the service that you all get,” Hohl said.

Brown also said the city will host a youth job fair on March 3. According to a city news release Friday, more than 40 employers providing summer and year-round employment will be present, including Northwestern and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Collective Resource, Inc. owner and founder Erlene Howard, who is an Evanston resident, spoke about the services provided by her food scrap collection company.

At the meeting, Howard said that “anything that was once alive,” including meat, dairy, vegetables and cooked broth, can go into the containers.

Customers can choose from various sized containers for their food scraps, which are picked up weekly or biweekly and replaced with a clean container, Howard said, adding that taking food scraps out of the landfill helps the environment.

“I … believe that if it’s easy enough, people will get in the habit of diverting their food scraps,” Howard told The Daily. “Every kind of property you can think of in Evanston has an example of (at least) one of them composting.”

Howard told The Daily that the company’s franchise agreement with the city — which offers residents reduced prices on the company’s services — will last five years, with the potential of being extended for three years. Though the agreement began in November 2017, the service started June 2010, she said.

“If another food scrap collection service decided to come to Evanston and set up a business, they would not be allowed,” Howard told The Daily. “Evanston has agreed that I am their standalone food hauler.”

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