September 7, 2018 | Spotlight

Korean MPA students help assess Grady County solid waste disposal issues

Faculty member Kris Sikes and South Korean visiting scholars get an overview of the waste management situation from Grady County commissioners.

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Leaders in south Georgia’s Grady County faced a dilemma: The Cairo landfill that served 25,000 people was filling up, and the Board of Commissioners needed an economical solution.

They got it through an international collaboration that involved three University of Georgia units and five visiting research scholars from South Korea.

The UGA Archway Partnership, which has worked with Grady County since 2011, asked the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s local government specialists to help local officials assess the problem and explore affordable options. Faculty member Kris Sikes oversaw the assessment with five South Korean government officials who were completing master’s studies through the Vinson Institute’s partnership with the UGA School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA).

Grady County is closing some of its drop-off Dumpster sites as part of a solid waste management plan the Institute of Government developed with five South Korean master’s students.As the result, people in Grady County got a plan to haul their trash to two nearby landfills and eliminate several litter-attracting drop-off Dumpster sites. The Korean officials, in turn, fulfilled their capstone project requirement for earning SPIA’S master of public administration degree.

Sikes worked closely with the Korean officials—all unit directors or deputy directors in national government ministries—to analyze Grady County’s situation and describe alternatives. The assessment gave commissioners the information they needed to evaluate the costs and benefits of curbside pickup, unstaffed drop-off sites and staffed sites.

The county government is implementing the plan incrementally by expanding curbside garbage collection in densely populated areas and closing many of the 42 messy drop-off sites, according to county Commissioner T.D. David.

“The Korean officials and the Institute of Government told us exactly what would be the best way to do this,” David said. “The detail they provided was just phenomenal, and we appreciate that.”

Due to time constraints, the Korean officials presented their report at a gathering of Vinson Institute faculty and staff. Sikes traveled to Grady County later to present the results in person.

“This project allowed UGA to interact with and really help a rural Georgia community,” she said.