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Christmas tree set for curbside collection (via Arlington County)

If you bought a Christmas tree this year, don’t throw out it out just yet (unless it’s dangerously dry).

Starting Monday, Arlington County will begin its annual curbside Christmas tree collection. Tree pick-up for Arlington residential waste collection customers — primarily those in single-family homes — will go through Friday, Jan. 13.

“Place trees at [the] curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing all decorations, nails [and] stands,” per the county website. “Do not place trees in plastic bags.”

After Jan. 13, county waste removal services will handle Christmas trees as part of Arlington’s year-round yard-waste collection.

“Make sure the tree is bare and ready for composting,” the announcement said. “Trees over 8 feet long will need to be dismantled.”

Residents of apartments, condos and townhomes can drop trees off at the county’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington. Those who plan to go to the yard will need proof of residence in Arlington to drop off their trees.

Trees will ultimately be converted into mulch. Residents may pick up the mulch for free, or have it delivered for a fee, from county facilities in Shirlington and Yorktown.

Greenery aside, Arlington also has a guide for reducing trash during the holidays, including what can and cannot be recycled. Some things that don’t qualify for county recycling — including broken twinkle lights, electronics and batteries — can be dropped off at MOM’s Organic Market on N. Veitch Street.

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Recycling collection in Arlington (photo courtesy Arlington County)

The Thanksgiving holiday will mean closures of county facilities.

Arlington courts, libraries, community centers, vaccine clinics and government offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday. Thursday will also be a rare weekday off day for hard-working trash collection crews, who will resume collections a day delayed on Friday and Saturday.

Additionally, parking meters will not be enforced during the holiday.

From the county website:

Arlington County Government offices and services are operating on modified schedules for the Thanksgiving holiday, Thur., Nov 24, and Fri., Nov. 25, 2022.

Trash/Recycling/Yard Waste Curbside Routes – No collection Thursday. Thursday routes run on Friday, Nov. 25; Friday routes run on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Parking – Permit parking is always in effect unless specifically noted on the sign. Meters are not enforced on holidays.

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Overflowing trash can near the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street (courtesy of @rdc20132/Twitter)

Arlington County has removed two apparently “abandoned” trash cans in Pentagon City.

Earlier this week, a resident posted on social media scenes of overflowing trash cans near the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street, across the street from the Pentagon City Whole Foods.

https://twitter.com/rdc20132/status/1584233716456755201

Despite the post, the trash cans were not immediately emptied. The Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) said on social media that the offending trash cans were, in fact, not the county’s responsibility.

The pile of refuse — including many bags of dog waste — continued to grow.

https://twitter.com/rdc20132/status/1585003640409890816

DES has since decided to remove the trash cans, after concluding they were “abandoned” by their original owner.

“The Solid Waste Bureau determined that the two overflowing receptacles were abandoned and removed them this week for safety,” DES spokesperson Peter Golkin wrote in an email.

Trash should be disposed of in other nearby receptacles, he said. The closest trash can handled by the county is three blocks away at 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street.

It remains unclear to whom the abandoned trash cans belonged. Golkin noted that “ownership has not been determined.”

ARLnow reached out to developer JBG Smith due to its ubiquitous presence in the neighborhood and the fact that the trash cans were in front of a banner bearing the company’s name. But a spokesperson there said, “it’s not theirs.”

Now, the bins and the pile of doggie waste bags, plastic water bottles and cardboard coffee cups stacked on top have gone to the great landfill in the sky.

Back in May, the neighborhood had similar trash troubles that Golkin attributed to “increased seasonal tourism and more weekend events.”

He said at the time that the Solid Waste Bureau was shifting schedules and doing weekend checks to ensure full trash cans were being emptied in a timely manner. This is still happening, Golkin noted this week.

“The Solid Waste Bureau is still continuing with weekend stops in the busy Pentagon Row area,” he wrote.

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Leaf cleanup in Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Cool fall mornings mean leaf collection season is near.

And Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services is reminding homeowners collecting their leaves and cleaning out their gardens to use only paper yard waste bags.

“Plastic ones can’t be composted and won’t be collected. If you have a landscaper, make sure they know,” spokesman Peter Golkin said. “The issue with yard waste in plastic bags is the most glaring problem for organics.”

Leaves bagged in paper can be composted along with other yard waste and food scraps, and turned into compost residents can use in their gardens.

Since September 2021, Arlington County has collected residents’ food scraps mixed in with their yard waste. Participation hovers around 40-45% of homes, and the county says participating residents diverted 27% of their food waste from the incinerator in April 2022, up from 21% in January 2022 and 15% in October 2021.

“As with any new program, there is a learning curve. Arlington is one of the first localities to collect food scraps at the curb,” Golkin said. “Food scraps collection is just over a year old but we hear from new users and even won a 2022 Achievement Award from the Virginia Association of Counties.”

He reported that there is demand for learning more about the organics collection process.

“We had a big turnout for the Rock-n-Recycle Solid Waste Bureau open house this month and got to share loads of information and compostable bags for food scraps, particularly with young families,” he said. “Same for the County Fair. More educational opportunities to come.”

The department will soon distribute a cart hanger with a rundown of what can, and can’t, be put in the cart.

Golkin has two rules of thumb: “If it grows, it goes” and “When in doubt, leave it out.”

So go ahead and put hairs from the hairbrush or fingernail clippings in the food scrap collection bin. Other bathroom trash, like used tissues, however, cannot be composted.

While a variety of products are advertised as “compostable,” residents should take care when disposing them, Golkin says.

“Products that are 100% bamboo are compostable but if you can’t tell, best to put an item in the trash,” he said. “Read disposal instructions carefully. If there are no disposal instructions, that’s probably a sign to use the garbage can.”

For example, the handles of bamboo toothbrushes are compostable but the nylon bristles are not. Meanwhile, plastic-looking compostable cups or flatware must be Biodegradable Products Institute or Compost Manufacturing Alliance certified compostable.

“Apple cores, banana peels, chicken bones and even greasy pizza boxes are easier,” Golkin said. “Toss them in the green cart.”

The free food scrap bin Arlington County provided to residents starting September 2021 (file photo)

Since the initiative launched, he said, more than 100 cubic yards of finished compost has returned to Arlington for residents to pick up — similar to the county’s free mulch program. More will be available “in the next few weeks,” with details forthcoming on DES’s social media account.

The county’s curbside pickup is not an option for apartment dwellers, but officials encourage residents to discuss food scrap collection with their apartment or condo management.

For now, they can drop off their food scraps at the Trades Center in Shirlington, at local farmers markets and at the MOM’s Organic Market near Courthouse.

Based on current waste stream data, staff and a public advisory committee are working on a new, state-mandated Solid Waste Management Plan for the county, to be released in 2024, he said.

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Morning Notes

Street scene near Clarendon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Trash Collection Starting Earlier — “In an effort to get a jump on the day and maybe beat a bit of summer heat, curbside collection crews will be starting their routes 30 minutes earlier in the morning beginning next week. The new start time of 6:30 a.m. is considered a pilot, with the results to be evaluated after a few months. As usual, recycling/trash/organics carts need to be at the curb by 6 a.m. on weekly pick-up day. Putting them out the night before is perfectly fine–if that’s how you roll.” [Arlington County]

Bezos Space Firm Has Arlington Office — Blue Origin “has a small existing office at 1530 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington… which the Blue Origin website describes as its ‘East Coast business office supporting government relations, sales and business development efforts.’ A lobbying disclosure form filed last month with the federal government also puts Blue Origin’s presence at that address. The Rosslyn office will remain open after Blue Origin occupies its new Reston space.” [Washington Business Journal]

Prolific Arlington Architect Dies — “Fredrick Sheridan of McLean passed away at home on June 30th at the age of 95. Fred was President and a founder of SBE & Assoc, an Arlington architecture firm for over 55 years… He was an early and major contributor to the development of local building and zoning codes in Arlington, advocating for residents and landowners. His scope of work included more than 200 projects. Fred’s versatility of design expertise extended from Courtland Towers to the Monastery of the Poor Clares to Marymount University.” [Legacy]

Forestry Commission on ‘Missing Middle’ — “The Arlington County government’s Forestry and Natural Resources Commission… while saying it agrees that a broader range of housing options should be available in Arlington, seems to be joining a growing chorus that the proposed zoning alterations should be phased in over time, to see what works and what doesn’t, before being implemented throughout Arlington’s single-family neighborhoods.” [Sun Gazette]

Group Lauds Board’s Antisemitism Resolution — “The Arlington County Board has received praise from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. Board members passed a resolution in support of the language in June.” [Sun Gazette]

Crystal City ‘Midsummer’ Production Reviewed — “If ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is only as enchanting as a production’s take on the mischievous fairy Puck and bumbling actor Bottom, then Synetic Theater is fortunate to count spellbinding performances from Ariel Kraje and Vato Tsikurishvili among its assets.” [Washington Post]

NPS Seeking Ideas for Daingerfield Island — “The National Park Service is soliciting public feedback for ideas to overhaul part of Daingerfield Island near Potomac Yard. The idea is to revitalize the area around the Washington Sailing Marina at the former Indigo Landing Restaurant.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy during the day, then rain and possible storms at night. High of 86 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:52 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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July 4 fireworks as seen from Joint Base Myer (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Arlington County is set to essentially shut down on America’s birthday.

County government offices, courts, community centers, and county libraries are all closed on Monday, July 4 in observance of the holiday. The Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center will also be shuttered. Covid-19 testing sites and vaccine clinics are taking a break that day as well.

Arlington County schools are closed for employees on Independence Day, with summer school starting the next day on July 5.

America’s birthday also means free parking. Meters will not be enforced on the holiday, though permit parking is still in effect.

Trash, recycling, yard waste, and special pick-up collection, however, will be on its regular schedule.

The monthly free paper shredding, scrap metal, and inert material drop-off event at the Shirlington facility that would have been scheduled for this Saturday shifts back a week, to July 9.

For those looking to check out the fireworks, Metrorail’s holiday schedule may be the impetus to stay in Arlington this year. Earlier this week, Metro announced service will be significantly reduced this Independence Day, relative to past holidays.

“Due to the reduced number of railcars available for service, capacity on Metrorail will be less than previous Independence Days,” said Metro’s press release. “That means customers should be prepared for longer lines to enter stations near the Mall after the fireworks, up to 60 minutes, and for crowding to occur.”

Metrorail will be operating until midnight, with trains every 20 minutes on the Blue and Orange lines and every 15 minutes on the Yellow Line. Trains will arrive every 7 minutes at the downtown stations serviced by several lines. Expect lines of up to an hour to catch a train after the fireworks, Metro says.

Metrobus and Arlington Transit (ART) buses will both be operating on a Sunday schedule. For ART, that means only a few of the busiest routes will be running.

There will also be an abundance of road closures in Arlington related to the fireworks show downtown.

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Bagged brush and organics in the green bin, ahead of collection day (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County is having more trash trouble.

Late last week, an email was sent to residents acknowledging that it’s been a “something of a challenge” in recent weeks for curbside pick-up of trash, recycling, and green organics. The note goes on to say that the job market, driver shortages, supply chain issues, and the “early record heat” are the main culprits.

“We’re now seeing a rising number of collection routes not being completed until the next day, particularly for green organics carts that are often the last serviced due to routing based on processing facility locations,” reads the email.

Like many jurisdictions, Arlington uses a contractor for trash pick-up. That contractor is American Disposal Services.

Peter Golkin, Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) spokesperson, tells ARLnow the problem started in April, coinciding with the annual increase in green-cart organics being put curbside for pick-up — as well as the start of warmer temperatures.

He couldn’t estimate when the issues might be resolved and says the issue is “largely beyond the control of Arlington County.” Golkin notes that such challenges are also being endured by other localities in the region. American Disposal Services is continuously looking to hire more employees, but it continues to be hard, he says.

“It’s hard to give an estimated time for improved conditions… The County’s contractor has raised wages several times in the past 18 months and pays well above the County mandated living wage of $17/hour,” Golkin wrote in an email. “It’s simply difficult right now — at any wage — to find people willing to work 10-hour days doing demanding physical labor outdoors in the region’s heat conditions.”

Overall, county crews service about 6,500 households a day that put out an average of three carts, said the email sent to residents. Meaning, there are about 20,000 carts that are in need of pick-up on a daily basis, which does not include bulk items or bags of yard debris and other organics.

“It’s demanding, exhausting work easily complicated by quickly arising factors like storms and equipment failures,” it reads.

The recent hot weather is also complicating the situation. More than $3,000 worth of sports drinks have been downed by crews recently, the county said, and supply chain issues are making it hard to find replacement parts when a truck breaks down.

“Until global supply chain issues begin to ease, we anticipate vehicle breakdowns will continue to hamper collection routes,” Golkin said.

Arlington has had other recent trash problems. Last month, residents complained of overflowing public trash bins in Pentagon City and Crystal City. That issue was mostly the result of increased seasonal tourism, the county said while pledging to fix the problem.

As for what residents can do to ease the trash collection backlog, the county is asking those impacted to remain patient, report missed trash service, be considerate about the number of items left curbside, and to remember that those working “aren’t in it for the glamor.”

The email also notes that Waste and Recycling Workers Week starts June 17.

“The people on the trucks can always use a friendly wave or even a note of thanks taped to a cart. They perform an absolutely essential service that is so easy to take for granted,” Golkin said. “Perhaps not anymore.”

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An privately-owned overflowing trash can in Pentagon City. (photo courtesy of Rebecca/@rdc20132)

Overflowing trash cans are becoming a more common sight in Pentagon City and Crystal City, but the county is pledging to clean up the mess.

In recent days, several local residents posted photos on social media of neighborhood trash cans and recycling bins filled beyond the brim with soda cans, food wrappers, pizza boxes, coffee cups, and doggie bags. The problem, as noted, seemed to happen more on weekends.

https://twitter.com/rdc20132/status/1525557363557777410

County officials tell ARLnow that increased seasonal tourism and more weekend events are to blame, as both in the region are ramping back up after 2+ years of pandemic-related drop-offs.

“We are seeing a definite increase in use of public trash cans in parts of Arlington like Pentagon City, frequented by a lot of folks from out-of-town,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) spokesperson Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “After the first two years of the pandemic, there’s a noticeable rise in tourism and this is the traditional high point for any year thanks to school trips. When a group pulls up, it’s natural to want to get rid of junk like food wrappers and soda cans, especially on big buses that drivers have to keep clean.”

Golkin says that there are more workers back in offices as well, grabbing lunch and coffee while disposing of the remains in public trash cans. Plus, the increasing number of events both in Arlington and in D.C. has resulted in more “water bottles and wrappers naturally [making] their way beyond the event site.”

There’s also the notion of not wanting to walk the extra block to find a less-filled trash can.

“The messy problem comes when a trash or recycling can is full and the urge is to just keep piling rather than look for something with room maybe a block or two down the street,” he says.

To help solve the issue, Golkin says that DES is shifting schedules to include specific weekend checks at trouble trash spots in addition to the regular weekday rounds. However, “tight staffing” does not make it “easy to re-allocate limited resources like staff time.”

Despite requests from some residents, there’s no current plan to add more trash and recycling receptacles to those areas most impacted.

“The Solid Waste Bureau will see if the increased servicing takes care of the issue or if additional steps are necessary,” Golkin notes.

Not all of the trash cans in those neighborhoods are serviced by the county, however.

DES monitors and manages four pairs of trash and recycling receptacles on each side of S. Hayes Street near the Pentagon City mall. But there are also a number of trash cans in the area that belong to privately-owned buildings and are required to be serviced by those property owners.

Additionally, another county department — the Department of Parks and Recreation — handles the waste around Virginia Highlands Park, which is up a few blocks from the mall on S. Hayes Street.

As County Board chair Katie Cristol noted on Twitter, residents can request service or report problems with trash or any other street issue 24/7 through the county’s “Report A Problem” portal. More broadly, the county is currently updating its nearly-two-decade-old solid waste management plan and is asking for public input.

Golkin is optimistic that shifting more service to the weekends will help alleviate the trash problem in Pentagon City and Crystal City. But he does have a simple request.

“If a receptacle is already full, try to hold on [to trash] until there’s a nearby can with room.”

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Morning Notes

Hawk withdrawing (Photo courtesy of Huskerdont/Flickr)

Towers Coming to Site in National Landing —  “Developers have closed on the purchase of a vacant site near Crystal City and Potomac Yard in Arlington, a transaction that paves the way for a new two-building project there.” [Washington Business Journal]

Anti-Vaccine-Mandate Rally Growing — “The event, called ‘Defeat the Mandates: An American Homecoming,’ plans a march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial… [A spokesperson] says the group has more than 36,000 signups; a permit application filed with the National Park Service… says it expects 20,000 people.” Organizers have been encouraging attendees to stay in Arlington. [Washingtonian]

Keep Uncollected Bins Out — “Curbside recycling/trash/organics collection resumed Monday, Jan. 10, following last week’s storms. Keep any carts left unemptied this week at the curb through Saturday, Jan. 15. The County’s contractor is making progress collecting about twice the regular tonnage but runs are slower, trucks fill faster and Covid has affected staffing.” [Arlington County]

MLK Mass This Weekend — “On Sunday, January 16, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, will celebrate a Mass in Observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The annual Mass honors the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader who was slain almost 54 years ago.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Shred and Recycling Material Drop-Off — Each Arlington resident can shred up to two boxes or bags of paper or unload a small truckload of inert materials for free at a regularly held recycling event this Saturday. [Arlington County]

Return of 7000 Series Delayed Again — “Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld said today he will not resume the placement of 7000-series trains into passenger service for about 90 days to allow Metro engineering and mechanical experts time to focus on root cause analysis and acquire technology to measure 7000-series wheelsets. During the 90-day period, Metro will accelerate efforts to restore 6000-series railcars to increase the availability of newer cars in the fleet and improve reliability for customers.” [WMATA, Washington Post]

It’s Friday — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 46. North wind 8 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph. Sunrise at 7:25 a.m. and sunset at 5:10 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 27. North wind 7 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. On Sunday, snow is likely after 1 p.m. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy of Huskerdont/Flickr

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Washington-Liberty High School in the snow (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Your kids and your trash will be staying at home until next week.

Arlington Public Schools just announced that it will be closed for the fifth school day in a row, in anticipation of 2-4 inches of snow overnight. Students have not been in class since before the winter break.

More from APS:

Due to the winter weather advisory issued for Arlington, all schools and offices will be closed on Friday, January 7, 2022. Unless otherwise directed by their supervisors, maintenance staff should report to work at their scheduled time, and all custodians should report to work at 6 a.m. Extracurricular activities, games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County programs and operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.

The announcement follows closure announcements from Fairfax County Public Schools at 4 p.m. and Alexandria City Public Schools at 5 p.m.

Schools are not the only local closure of note tomorrow. Arlington County has already cancelled curbside trash and recycling collection.

Friday will be the third collection day this week — in addition to Monday and Tuesday — to be cancelled. Residents whose trash was not collected this week will have to wait until their next scheduled collection date next week.

In other words, prepare to see trash piling up in roughly three-fifths of Arlington’s single-family-home neighborhoods.

The special Christmas tree pickup, meanwhile, has been delayed by a week and is now set to start on Monday. From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services:

Curbside recycling/trash/organics collection is cancelled for Friday, Jan. 7 due to the expected overnight storm.

There will be no make-up collection days for this week.

Weather- and safety-permitting, curbside collections will resume Jan. 10 with regular Monday routes plus special Christmas tree collection. Free paper shredding and inert material drop-off scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 8 at the Trades Center has been postponed until Saturday, Jan. 15.

After being short-handed for Monday’s winter storm, Arlington snow crews are now working to pre-treat roads and prepare for tonight’s snowfall. About 2-4 inches of accumulation are expected, though the forecast has been trending toward the lower half of that range.

Arlington and much of the D.C. area is under a Winter Weather Advisory starting at 9 p.m. From the National Weather Service:

328 PM EST Thu Jan 6 2022

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THIS EVENING TO 7 AM EST FRIDAY…

* WHAT…Snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches.

* WHERE…The Washington and Baltimore Metropolitan areas, portions of central and southern Maryland, and portions northern Virginia.

* WHEN…From 9 PM this evening to 7 AM EST Friday.

* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning commute.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…The heaviest snow is expected overnight when snowfall rates of 1 inch per hour are possible. Visibility will be reduced to near or less than one-half mile.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Slow down and use caution while traveling.

When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.

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Snow on trash and recycling cans in North Arlington (staff photo)

If you live in a home that gets Arlington County’s trash collection service, with a Monday or Tuesday collection day, prepare to hang on to your refuse for another week.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Service said in an email this afternoon that Monday and Tuesday trash, recycling and organics collection has been cancelled due to “safety issues related to today’s storm.” Christmas tree collection has also been cancelled for those two days.

For those who now have to hold on to their trash for an extra week, “excess trash can be stored and placed curbside in plastic bags and personal containers with lids,” DES advised.

Collection service is expected to resume Wednesday on a normal schedule.

More from DES:

Greetings:

Because of safety issues related to today’s storm, Monday and Tuesday curbside recycling/trash/organics collection will not take place for those routes this week.

Weather-permitting, curbside service will resume Jan. 5 with regular Wednesday morning routes, continue on Jan. 6 with regular Thursday routes and conclude for the week on Jan. 7 with regular Friday routes. There will be no shifting of routes and days as previously publicized.

Excess trash can be stored and placed curbside in plastic bags and personal containers with lids.

The County offers two major recycling drop-off locations.

Special Christmas tree collection will resume Wednesday, weather-permitting, and continue through next week.

On behalf of the County’s contractor and its crews, thank you for your patience and understanding.

For the latest County office delays/cancellations, please visit [this page].

Sincerely,

Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

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