On September 14 Middleburg Town Council’s “Go Green” Committee formally proposed that, in the interest of controlling an often-overlooked and singularly toxic form of litter on its streets, the Town adopt a Cigarette Recycling Program.
According to the Committee’s 12-page report and proposal, “the number one item collected during Middleburg [weekly] street clean cleanups is cigarette butts.”
During the August 19th cleanup, “Volunteers collected 2,850 cigarette butts, enough to fill a 12x12x6 shipping box.”
Cigarette Butts: Unsightly and Dangerous
“In addition to being unsightly,” the report continued, cigarette butts are dangerous.”
The filters contain nicotine and “a mixture of up to 165 other toxic chemicals. If ingested by a baby or toddler the effect can be deadly. They are also ingested by pets and wildlife, and leach chemicals into the soil and water.
One test revealed that just one butt, soaked in two gallons of water, produced enough toxins to kill a form of microscopic crustacean that “for the basic food source for small fish, tadpoles, salamanders, newts and aquatic insects” in “Northern Virginia ponds, slow-moving streams, and lakes.”
Most filters aren’t biodegradable. Most are made of plastic, not cotton. As one scientist cited in the report put it, “They never truly vanish.”
The Go Green Committee has recommended that Council:
1. Buy and place cigarette waste receptacles in strategic locations around Town and encourage local businesses to do the same on their property.
2. Register as a “strategic partner” with TerraCycle, an organization that provides free UPS shipping of cigarette waste to its recycling facilities, where it sterilizes, shreds and safely re-cycles each butt’s constituent parts.
3. Begin an intense public information campaign to alert citizens to both the dangers of cigarette waste AND what they can do about it, and
4. Enforce the Town’s already-existing anti-littering regulations.
The special cigarette receptacles recommend by the Committee range in price from $134 to $299 each.
The Town collects cigarette tax revenues of roughly $24,000 per year.
Go Green recommends that Council allocate 17.5% of that sum, roughly $4,200, to start the program. Included in that sum would be the purchase of 12 or 13 Town-owned receptacles.
In year two and thereafter, the Committee proposes using a tiny portion of each year’s tax revenues to cover the program’s very minimal ongoing costs” which would also be partially offset by fines generated by stricter enforcement of existing littering laws.
Town Council responded positively to the report and Go Green proposal and in the next several weeks will consider when and how to implement it.
New Hires and Promotions
Town Administrator Martha Semmes reported that Tim Cole had officially joined the Town Staff as Facilities & Maintenance Supervisor on August 21. “He has jumped into his role with enthusiasm, “ Semmes told Council, “already completing a miracle cleanup and reorganization of the Town Shop.”
On September 18, Kristina (“Tina”) Staples of Linden, Virginia became the Town’s new Administrative & Accounting Assistant.
Mark Davis has been hired as a part-time Middleburg Police Officer, filling the part-time slot formally held by Officer Jason Davis.
Jason Davis has been promoted to full-time Middleburg Police Officer
Police Chief A.J. Panebianco has also promoted two of his officers.
Heather Fadely adds two stripes to her uniform, promoted from Officer to Police Corporal.
Officer Jay Hollins is now Police Lieutenant Hollins, Chief Panebianco’s senior line officer.
The Town’s efforts to restore and maintain historic Asbury Methodist Church on Jay Street continue apace. Town Administrator Semmes and Town Attorney Martin Crim are drafting a contract with low-bidder Cochran’s Stone Masonry “to complete a phase 1 stabilization project designed by the project engineer.”
Cochran’s specializes in historic preservation and has done work on “some of America’s most treasured buildings,” including James Madison’s Montpelier, the Lee family’s Stratford Hall, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Middleburg in Social Media
Bendure Communications, the Town’s public and media relations contractor, reports that the number of people following the Town on FaceBook continues to grow, reaching roughly 500 people each day. A post on Salamander’s 4th Anniversary reached 1,600.
Instagram followers rose 13%, and posts rose 26%
Twitter followers were up 4%, generating and average of 410 impressions per day.
Town-Owned Health Center Occupancy
Cowgill Management Company reports that, in September, three of the six units in the Town’s Health Center Building on South Madison Street remains empty.
Al listing agreements for the empty units with area realtors have been put on hold and, pending necessary cleaning and maintenance of the empty units, Cowgill is not currently advertising their availability until instructed to do so by the Town.
There has been “a lot of interest” in renting two of the empty units,” according to the report.
Profits from rental income from the building, which formerly housed the Middleburg Police Department, were traditionally the source of the Town’s financial contributions to local non-profit and charitable organizations.
Middleburg Film Festival
In honor of the Fifth Annual Middleburg Film Festival, scheduled for October 19-22, Council adopted a formal “Resolution of Appreciation” in honor of the festival’s founder and moving force, Sheila Johnson.
Since 2013 the festival has offered visitors four full days of unprecedented access to fine film, box office favorites, premiers, foreign films, Academy Award contenders and interaction with filmmakers, composers, actors, directors and other industry representatives from the US and around the world.
Piano Recital Funding
Following a presentation by Vincent Bataoel, Chair of the Town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, Town Council agreed to an appropriation of $4,800 to cover the costs of providing a performer and instrument/equipment for a “Middleburg Music Fest International Piano Recital” to be held at the Salamander Resort and Spa on November 4, 2017.
Salamander and Boxwood Winery currently sponsor and provide other support the Fest.
Last year 45 people attended. This year’s goal is to double that number.
The Fest’s longer-term goal is to lay the groundwork for a full three-day Middleburg Music Festival on the scale of the Town’s current film festival, ideally beginning in September 2018.