By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
Cynics often contend reporters are only interested in finding dirt, and on Monday evening this reporter hit the jackpot at the Virginia City Council session.
Bill Leischner was handing out the dirt while telling the council how Virginia could make its own and plenty of it. The Midwest Bio-Systems representatives explained just how the city can turn leaves, grass clippings and other organic waste into rich compost prized by gardeners.
Virginia is looking at composting as a way to eliminate leaf burning. Some environmentalists and health experts contend leaf burning poses serious health concerns.
Leischner estimated the city generates about 500 tons of leaves and grass clippings annually. With a suitable site, organic material can be turned into compost in about 10 weeks. However, this would require the city to invest in necessary equipment, including a compost windrow turner and water tank. Midwest Bio-Systems manufactures both at its Tampico, facility.
Leischner envisioned city residents bringing their leaves and grass clippings to the composting site and returning home with compost for gardens, flower beds and other yard projects.
Mike Arnold of Arnold Family Farms, Bluff Springs, offered the potential of a second option. Rather than invest in equipment, the city could send the organic material to the composting operation at his farm.
No action was taken, but the council is expected to return to this topic at future meetings.
The council unanimously accepted a bid from MB Construction of Monticello, Mo., to build a 10-inch two-mile water transmission line just outside the western border of the city to supply the water tower. This work is necessary to secure Illinois Environmental Protection Agency permitting.
At a previous meeting, Mayor Steve Sudbrink explained the line also could run down Morgan Street, but this would be more costly and problematic. The Morgan Street route would encounter considerable underground utility infrastructure such as natural gas, telephone, water and sewer lines.
MB Construction was the low bidder at $211,103.
The city also is advertising for bids to farm 12 acres of city-owned farmland. The term of the lease will be for two years. Bids must be received by the city clerk no later than the end of business on Feb. 10.
Sudbrink and council members had plenty of praise for Public Works Director Randy McClure and his team for the way they tackled recent heavy snows as well as problems caused by sub-zero temperatures. Residents also were reminded that 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. parking on the city square is prohibited during snow emergencies.