Halifax County’s recycling program has re-invented itself, with its formal debut coming within the next several weeks.

Scott Simpson, county administrator, told supervisors during their Monday night meeting that in an effort to help consumers tell the difference between recyclable material and trash, containers used for recycling have been painted a different color — bright yellow — than those used for refuse, and they are set to be delivered to collection sites.

Container signage is being printed and produced as well, Simpson added.

“All expectations are that containers will be delivered to the sites within the next two weeks, and the program will commence again with a close monitoring of the deposited products,” said Simpson.

The key to keeping the county’s recycling program solvent should start at home, with the ability to tell the difference between recyclable material and trash.

That was one of the conclusions reached at a recycling committee meeting held June 25, when director of public works Ricky Nelson told the committee that TFC Recycling of Chester had told him recycling loads from Halifax County were contaminated with non-recyclables, making them unacceptable.

Recyclers also are putting tighter restrictions on what is being accepted, and the cleanliness of what is being accepted has become another issue.

Suggestions to improve the program made during the committee discussion included painting the recycling bins a different color, increasing public awareness through better signage and reducing locations at which recycling will be accepted until the county has a better result with the quality of the recycling program.

“Public awareness is what we’re striving for,” Simpson told supervisors Monday.

“We’re painting boxes a different color – yellow - and the signage is more clear,” added Simpson, who said the boxes could possibly be set out at six locations in the county by the third week of August at six locations in the county.

Simpson has suggested those locations include Virgilina, Turbeville, Clover, South Boston, Halifax and Volens.

Acting on a suggestion from ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, Simpson said signage on the recyclable containers would be changed to better reflect the types of plastics accepted, as well as stating no glass will be accepted.

Empower Broadband

Supervisors signed on as co-applicant to an Empower Broadband grant application to Department of Housing and Community Development for Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) funding for high-speed broadband expansion to several areas of the county.

VATI has increased its pool of grant money from $4 million in 2018 to $19 million in 2019, according to Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) and Empower Broadband representative Dustin Francis.

(MEC), and Empower Broadband in conjunction with Halifax County, have prepared an application to the Department of Housing and Community Development for VATI grant funding to extend high-speed broadband to areas of the county including a portion of MEC members along Howard P. Anderson Road, Hunting Creek Road, Clarkton Road, Mt. Laurel Road, Bull Creek Road, Chatham Road, Leda Road, Bill Tuck Highway and Aaron’s Creek Road.

Approximately 741 premises will be passed with fiber optic cable.

Simpson told supervisors he met with Empower representatives recently and determined the areas indicated for their proposed fiber optic project do not greatly overlap the areas that are planned to be served by the wireless broadband partner.

The intent is for no local county funds to be committed to the project, according to Simpson.

Francis asked the board for its concurrence in applying for the grant.

Fiber works better in hilly and tree-covered terrain than wireless and DSL, according to Francis, who told supervisors if grant monies were awarded the project it would open the door for opportunities for people to work from home.

Supervisors signaled their support of the grant application, including Davis.

“These guys are serious about what they’re doing,” said Davis.

“It makes sense we work with them to make sure this happens.”

In answering a question from ED-7 Supervisor Garland Ricketts, Simpson said a potential agreement with Empower didn’t interfere with the county’s contract with SCS Broadband, telling supervisors fiber was supplemental to a wireless systems and didn’t overlap.

War Memorial traffic improvement

Supervisors on Monday approved a War Memorial Advisory Committee recommendation that the county convey the rights of way and easements necessary for proposed traffic improvements at the Halifax War Memorial.

Virginia Department of Transportation and the town of Halifax have been working on a project to change the intersection of Main Street and Mountain Road in Halifax, the location of the Halifax County War Memorial.

The VDOT Smartscale project includes changes for turning radius and streetscape work, including sidewalk and curbing changes.

VDOT representative Raina Rosado assured committee members that no trees or shrubs would be affected by the project.

Solar update

Witt updated supervisors of recent meetings held in Appomattox between representatives of several counties and of the solar industry to adjust the tax revenue percentage more favorably toward rural counties.

“Rural counties basically aren’t reaping the full tax revenue, and we (counties) felt like the issue needed to be addressed,” said Witt. “We feel taxes generated from solar companies are out of kilter compared to other tax producing entities in our counties.”

Short-term solutions discussed include proffers for impacts caused by installation either safety related or environmentally related, according to Witt.

“Identify it, put a price tag on it, and ask for a proffer for that amount,” said Witt.

Voluntary agreements in lieu of tax offsets are another short-term solution being considered, one that opens the door for localities to negotiate tax revenue for their localities, Witt explained.

Long-term solutions discussed include legislation that imposes a generation tax and closes the tax gap, according to Witt.

“There are good hopes we’ll improve the tax revenue for solar installations in Halifax County,” said Witt.

VDOT report

VDOT Engineer Jay Craddock told supervisors only one road remains closed in Halifax County as a result of last fall’s tropical storms, with the re-opening of Route 619.

Route 683 remains closed for approximately one year for bridge replacement, according to Craddock.

Route 344 in Scottsburg will be limited to one-way traffic for conduit pipe replacement for a three-to-four week period, Craddock told supervisors.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.