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Halifax County keeps recycling program, for time being / October 04, 2018

The Halifax County Board of Supervisors held off on making a decision Monday on whether to suspend countywide recycling, leaving the program in place for now.

However, board members directed interim County Administration Dan Sleeper to explore the matter further after Sleeper recommended discontinuing recycling through the remainder of 2018.

“We’ll probably be sending Ricky [Nelson, public works director] to Richmond until we decide what to do,” said Sleeper. The county’s contractor for recycled materials is located in the Richmond area.

In June, county officials were informed by the contractor that Halifax would have to pay $30 a ton for the processing of recycling materials. Previously, the county had gotten anywhere from $10 to $20 per ton for the recyclables it collected — a revenue stream of about $11,000 to $12,000 a year, a pittance in the context of the county’s $94 million budget.

By charging to take in recyclables, the contractor has stuck Halifax with an unexpected bill of around $16,000, according to Sleeper.

Monday night Sleeper said he has contacted four other possible recycling contractors, hoping to find a more favorable arrangement. ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, who heads the board’s finance committee, said he, too, is reaching out to other contractors, hoping for better rates.

In the meantime, Davis said, the county will continue to take recyclables at convenience centers and have the materials processed. Davis said he has been a strong advocate of recycling since the county began its recycling program in the early 1990s.

Up to 75 percent of the trash a household generates can be recycled, Davis estimated. He noted the county began the program with the goal of removing all recyclable material — paper and cardboard, plastics, glass and metal containers — from the trash stream that it sends to the regional landfill in Mecklenburg. “Landfills are very expensive,” he said.

Sleeper said the county pays $40 a ton for garbage deposited at the landfill, as opposed to $30 a ton to its recycling contractor. The difference in cost does not include the expense of running trucks to Richmond to deposit collected recycling materials.

On Tuesday, Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy said he had received no advance notice of the board’s actions. Espy noted that Halifax residents enjoy free pick-up of their recycables each Wednesday, and he estimated that recycling has resulted in at least a 50 percent reduction in the amount of trash picked up throughout town.

With Board Chairman Dennis Witt absent, supervisors tabled action on suspending the program as they hope to see the price of recycled materials rise over the coming months.

In other business, Betty Adams, executive director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, reported to supervisors on plans to get the Southern Virginia Regional Transportation Project up and running by next summer. The project envisions bus transit service running between Halifax and Pittsylvania counties and the City of Danville.

She pointed out that “the lack of transportation has been the biggest barrier to education and jobs.’

“People here do not understand how many people don’t have transportation in this community in which 50 percent of population lives under the poverty level.”

The system will be paid for with a three-year grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and state and federal transit funding.

Adams was joined by Mark Alderman with Danville Transit in making her presentation to the board. Danville Transit will operate the system, offering bus service from Danville to South Boston on U.S. 58, and from Danville to Chatham along U.S. 29.

While no firm schedule has been finalized, they said the plan is to offer four bus runs each day with riders charged $2 for a one-way ticket.

After a public hearing, the board approved a conditional use permit for Sharon and James W. Wilborn to operate a bed and breakfast as well as a wedding venue at Sunny View in Cluster Springs, a location better known as the old Patrick Henry Boys Home Plantation.

In other business supervisors:

Voted to extend the Fun at the Fair contract for use of the fairgrounds until 2020 unless the property is needed for economic development prospects;

Approved the sale of two county owned lots on Plywood Trail to Bruce Wilkins for $10,000 once a survey of the property is paid for and completed and an easement reserved for county use is finalized.

Ratified a grant agreement which will allow for completion of the Tuck Airport runway.

Reaffirmed the county’s opposition to uranium mining;

Approved a revision to the resolution to name the bridge on Wolf Trap Road for C.S. “Runt” Powell.

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