North transfer station could become regional hub

If awarded a CAP grant, a nine-county coalition that includes Hubbard County would fund a regional hub–and-spoke system. Hubbard County's north transfer station would be the eastern hub.

Hubbard County's south transfer station

Hubbard County, along with eight other counties, plans to apply for the Solid Waste Processing Facilities Capital Assistance Program (CAP).

The Hubbard County Board agreed on Tuesday, May 16 to submit a letter of interest to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on behalf of the coalition. For fiscal year 2024 bonding consideration, CAP interest forms are due on May 30.

According to the MPCA, CAP “provides financial and technical assistance to local governments to encourage investment in the proper management of solid waste.” Availability of CAP funding is subject to an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature.

By expressing interest, Hubbard County Solid Waste Administrator Josh Holte explained, “This would be able to get us on the bonding tour that the Legislature would do and get on the 2024-25 Legislative sessions.”

Partnering counties are Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Polk and Red Lake.


They are all currently participating in a regional construction and demolition (C&D) landfill study. Holte stated that study will be completed on May 24.

Hub-and-spoke concept

If awarded a CAP grant, Holte said the coalition would fund a regional hub–and-spoke system.

Hubbard County could potentially be the eastern hub, with Polk County as the western hub.

Holte reported the study is showing that Hubbard County generates the most C&D material in the group.

“It’s appearing that our north site would be the ideal location for the future lined landfill expansion,” he said. “There is still a lot of information needed before we would expect any firm commitments financially to move forward with this type of facility.”

In January, Holte told county commissioners that, in this scenario, a scale, road and other infrastructure would be constructed at the county’s 160-acre site.

“Tipping fees and waste commitments would be needed, wherever the facility is located, to help
cover operating costs and bond payments in the future,” Holte said.

If the north transfer station is the hub, Holte said it would keep the county’s transportation costs low and provide the overall lowest cost to residents.


North, south landfills’ future

“By 2030, we’re going to be out of capacity at our landfills. We’re going to be faced with either constructing a new facility on our own or trying to be part of a larger, regional solution where we can bring in additional material and spread costs over a greater wasteshed,” he continued.

CAP would offset Hubbard County’s costs with state funding as well.

“We have a really good chance to be a model for the state which other regions will follow,” Holte added.

He explained that C&D waste is typically clean lumber, sheetrock, “pretty much anything that you tear down from your building,” then it’s buried in the landfill.

Forever chemicals

Board chair Tom Krueger asked about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) hazards.

Holte said a lined facility would mitigate PFAS leaking and there would be treatment solutions.

“Is this site suitable for that? Or, in the future, will we run into it leaching into the wells, like the one (south transfer station) over here?” Krueger asked.

“With a liner, there shouldn’t be any concerns over groundwater leaching at all,” Holte replied, noting the liner deteriorates over hundreds of years.


County commissioner Ted Van Kempen pointed out there aren’t residences neighboring the north transfer station, located in Guthrie Township.

It’s largely tax-forfeited land, agreed Holte.

Potential for cost savings

Hubbard County Administrator Jeff Cadwell said, “This is, potentially, a really big project. We have to get in line relative to state funding, state bonding and/or legislation to do something.”

The county’s C&D landfill permits end in 2029 and 2030.

“So this is a near long-term plan,” Cadwell said, adding there will be costs for all of the counties if they have to close their landfills and truck to other facilities.

If the north station becomes the hub, the county will need to transport its material from the south to the north.

“We’ll be in the best position to regulate those costs and identify what’s passed on to taxpayers and what’s passed on through rates for actual users, if we are the site.”

Cadwell noted that current CAP grants fund at either 25%, 50% or 75% and are based on need. He thought it's likely there would be a 25% match split among the nine counties.


“That waste is going to have to go somewhere,” agreed Van Kempen.

Krueger said a number of Minnesota Rural Counties members are in favor of incineration because scrubbers are much cleaner now and the energy can be converted into electricity.

Holte said they’re looking at an air burner that makes a biochar product. It sequesters carbon and is a soil amendment. “There’s a lot of interesting technology that a person can look into.”

Krueger commented, “That’s a good idea. Just going into the ground and staying there forever is old thinking.”


In January, the same nine-county coalition applied for a brand-new $4 million federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling (SWIFR) grant is to improve local waste management and recycling systems. It’s funded through $275 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through fiscal year 2026.

“We haven’t heard on that request,” Holte said on Tuesday.

In related business, the board accepted the low quote of $19,780 from Wastequip of Rosemount, Minn. for six 8-yard and six 4-yard recyclers dumpsters. They also approved selling the county’s surplus equipment via

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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