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News / Clark County News

Repair Clark County gets $120,000 grant

State award will allow program to run 2 more years

By Jeffrey Mize, Columbian staff reporter
Published: July 8, 2019, 6:01am
3 Photos
Volunteers Neil Sedell and Dave Meigs look at an old radio as they attempt to repair it during a 2017 event at the Vancouver Community Library.
Volunteers Neil Sedell and Dave Meigs look at an old radio as they attempt to repair it during a 2017 event at the Vancouver Community Library. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

A program that offers free repair of clothing and household items will continue for two more years.

Repair Clark County, a Columbia Springs program, routinely repairs 80 to 120 items at its events, which are held about once a month.

The program’s primary purpose is to reduce discarded items that end up buried in a landfill

The Washington State Department of Ecology offers grants to increase public understanding and involvement in improving recycling and waste management. Repair Clark County received a $120,000 grant, which will allow the program to continue through June 2021.

If You Go

What: Next event for Repair Clark County, a free program to fix household items.

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Three Creeks Community Library, 800-C N.E. Tenney Road.

More information: repairclarkcounty.org.

“We’re so pleased to be awarded the grant again,” Terra Heilman, program coordinator, said in a news release. “These events are proving to be invaluable to the people who attend. They serve as a way to reduce waste and also as an opportunity for community-building and skill-sharing.”

Heilman said this is the only program of its type in Clark County, but there are more than 1,600 similar programs worldwide.

“We definitely stole the idea,” she said. “The repair concept started a little more than a decade ago in the Netherlands.”

Repair Clark County successfully fixed almost 1,700 items in its first two years. Last year, about 84 percent of items were repaired.

People can bring in clothes with tears or shirts missing buttons, small appliances that aren’t working right, and knives and tools that need sharpening.

Those seeking to have items repaired should bring replacement parts if they have them, such as missing buttons for shirts.

Only bring items that can be easily carried by one person. Don’t bring in any item that is dirty, leaking, has a strong odor or is unsafe.

Experienced volunteer fixers will attempt to repair broken or damaged items and can sometimes provide tips on how to fix them.

There are no guarantees an item can be repaired or that attempting to fix it won’t break it more. Fixers will diagnose problems, offer their best advice and may even have some replacement parts that will help with repairs.

Common items brought to repair events include kitchen knives, pocket knives, scissors, gardening and hand tools, necklaces, earrings, pins/brooches, backpacks/bags, clothes, bicycles, walkers, lamps, vacuums, fans, clocks, radios, coffee makers, hair dryers, toasters, food processors and mixers.

During the program’s last event, on June 8 at Pearson Field Education Center, volunteers recorded an 88 percent success rate and repaired 114 items, including 67 knives and other items sharpened, 24 pieces of clothing sewn and 16 appliances repaired.

“The only items we can’t work with are microwaves and gas engines,” Heilman said. “Anything else, we’ll at least take a look at it. With such high repair rates, the odds are good you’ll go home with a working item.”

The next Repair Clark County event is 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Three Creeks Community Library, 800-C N.E. Tenney Road in Salmon Creek.

A full list of 2019 repair events is available online at repairclarkcounty.org.

Columbian staff reporter