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Composting and tree planting top discussion items for KCCB meeting

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Heading into the early weeks of spring, activity within the Keep Carter County Beautiful board continues to ramp up as on Thursday the KCCB board met via Zoom to discuss upcoming events and strategy while hearing from a special speaker discussing composting and its benefit.

There will be a lot of activity on Saturday, March 27, as the board and volunteers including students from Elizabethton High School’s Ag classes will be setting out roughly 26 various types of trees behind Grindstaff Automotive and in front of the Sycamore Springs Assisted Living Community in the hope of adding additional beauty to the Tweetsie Trail and a source of shade for those utilizing the walking/riding trail.

Mills Greenhouse and Landscaping is assisting the group in the placement of the trees and the holes for the planting will be prepared beforehand for those who are participating.

A discussion arose surrounding the need to stake the trees as Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains said that staking the trees could possibly lead to having to weed eat around those areas instead of mowing due to the stakes and the material used to tie the trees to the stakes with.

Board member Ed Basconi said that it has been his experience that trees that are secured will have a better chance to root and get the needed nutrients better than those which are not as the wind often will cause the trees to lean after planting if they are not staked.

Basconi also felt that the stakes could go in the mulch ring of the tree which should be out of the way of mowing and maintenance along the trail.

Mains complimented everyone involved in the project saying, “This has been a good team effort and a great project.”

The board also heard from Joe Hoffman who operates a tier two composting facility in Johnson City which basically means that the facility has been inspected and permitted.

Hoffman shared some information with the board on the importance of composting which leads to saving space in landfills and allows those items to be recovered and transformed into a product that is usable.

He noted that in the last 10 years there has been significant attention surrounding the need to keep food scraps out of the landfills to help to keep gases down that build from the decaying food.

One of the largest buyers of compost in the country is the Texas Department of Transportation according to Hoffman as the state utilizes the compost by spreading thin layers on the ground leading to and from interstates.

The purpose of doing so is that the compost will reduce the speed of runoff water as well as filter it.

For the local area, one of the benefits of compost is that it makes the soil more productive and helps to draw down the carbon. Also, due to the heat the compost endures, it is very beneficial in keeping down the growth of unwanted grass and weeds in flowering beds.

Hoffman stated that products such as waste from meat after it has been butchered including the bones can be composted to reduce the smells especially around businesses that are required to keep obnoxious smells down.

Currently, Hoffman has a pickup service for food scraps. His company provides five-gallon buckets and bucket liners which are picked up weekly and a fresh, clean bucket is left.

The service cost $20 monthly with the liners provided and when Hoffman started the business five years ago, he kept a pretty comprehensive amount of data on his pickups for two years and found that through his service he is keeping on average of 6.9 to 7.1 pounds per week per customer from entering the landfill which figured out to nearly 20,000 pounds of scraps per year.

He was asked by board member Ross Garland if this service could be provided in Carter County and Hoffman responded if he could get enough people willing to do it which he said would be around 50 or more people.

Garland also asked about schools participating in something like this and Hoffman replied that if there was a dedicated person to ensure that no other items were being disposed of aside from food scraps.

Hoffman said he currently has 65 acres of property for the business but is only using around five to six acres at this time.

In other meeting notes, Basconi updated the board on the wildflower beautification project which will result in six different varieties of sunflowers being planted along with Zinnias and Cosmos flowers.

The seeds will be planted in a bed about 300 feet long and three feet wide with the projected start date toward the end of April to the first of May to make sure that the possibility of frost has passed.

“The good thing is that a lot of birds will be coming to the sunflower bed once the seeds have dried,” said Basconi. “They will clean up the seeds.”

Jillian Reece updated the board on the installation of two cigarette butt collection boxes saying that both are really hard to tell they are present but have been used.

She also said each box has a message about littering on the front.

KCCB Board Chairman Edward Jordan informed the group that there will be more information released in the coming days in regard to Earth Day in Carter County as there is something special in store.

The Earth Day Celebration is on April 17.

The next board meeting was set for April 22 at 5:30 p.m.