Ttash compactors have been installed at both the Amissville (seen here) and Flatwood refuse centers.

$130,000 already saved since county upgraded two refuse and recycling sites

Most Rappahannock residents would agree that waste management is not a particularly exciting topic, but saving more than $260,000 a year on the county’s refuse and recycling? That’s sure to pique some interest. 

Since Rappahannock changed waste management contractors from Updike to Page County last year, taxpayers have already spent $129,828.99 less than average on waste management. Though the county had to front the capital for four brand-new trash compactors, County Administrator Garrey Curry says the new system will pay for itself within 13 months.

Hampton District Supervisors Keir Whitson says that his colleague Debbie Donehey, who now serves as the chair of the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors, was instrumental in making the change. Donehey says she went to Page County and took pictures and videos to learn about their waste management system and helped determine that the county could save a significant amount of money by making the switch. 

The savings freed up funding for other important county expenses, like Rappahannock’s emergency medical services. 

“The actual cost of disposing of the waste is less with Page County,” Curry says. “The hauling cost is less and because we’re compacting waste at our own facilities, the number of trips to the Page County landfill is reduced.” 

And the savings are not the only benefit of the new system. Compacted trash is less likely to fall out of garbage trucks on its way to the landfill, keeping the county’s roads free of debris.   

And according to Willie Shanks, who jokingly calls himself the Waste Management Consultant at the Flatwood Refuse and Recycling Center near Rock Mills, the new trash compactors also helps keep odors — and animal pests — at a minimum.

Shanks said all kinds of critters used to crawl into the garbage pits and drag trash all over the ground.  

He said that one night before the county changed contractors, he discovered three bears inside Flatwood’s fenced area at the same time. 

“They’ve done a doozy on the fences and things of that nature,” Shanks said. “We weren’t under Page County yet so all I could do was shoot some rubber bullets at them. That scared them off for a while but they’re like any other animal, they’re going to scrounge for what they want and try to feed themselves.”

Now, however, Shanks doesn’t have to worry about varmints. “They can’t pry open the compactor and get in and sprawl trash all over the facility as long as I have people remember one clear detail: if it is food it needs to go into the compactor so that I don’t have rodents,” he says. “It makes everything so much cleaner.”

Curry says the next step at both Amissville and Flatwood facilities is to demolish the old pits that are no longer in use. “That will be coming up in the spring hopefully, and that will help the traffic flow a bit better,” he says.

Chair Donehey added that another project for the county will be to come up with a way to ensure that only Rappahannock residents are using the facilities. But Donehey also said that she doesn’t want to alienate the Amissville Fire and Rescue volunteers who come from Culpeper.

“We have had conversations of trying to not hurt those kinds of relationships so all of that’s being looked into,” Donehey says.

The Amissville Refuse and Recycling Center is open Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

The Flatwood Refuse and Recycling Center is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. until 7  p.m., on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Check the Rappahannock County government website for the most up-to-date information.

Refuse and recycling tips from Willie Shanks, Flatwood’s “Waste Management Consultant”

  1. Sort your recycling before you go to help prevent bottlenecks. “The earlier you can separate things, preferably at home, the easier it is when you come out here to dump your trash.”

  2. Don’t dump your recycling in bags. “Your recycle needs to be outside of bags because when you put it in bags I have to retrieve the bag out and it just gets thrown away.”

  3. Pay attention to signage. “There’s a lot of black plastic that goes into the plastic container, and [Page County] doesn’t want that black plastic.”

  4. Make sure all food goes into the trash compactor. “That keeps the possums and the raccoons and all of those good things from trying to drag it out.”

And last, “Willie does not have control over the Flatwood Mall,” he says with a laugh.


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