Chincoteague Council: Volunteers Set to Trap, Neuter, and Release 100 Cats on Island in Weekend Event

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By Carol Vaughn —

Monique Roske, treasurer of Chincoteague Island Community Cats, spoke during the public comment period at the Nov. 2 Chincoteague town council meeting, providing an update about the group’s upcoming TNR (trap-neuter-release) weekend clinic Nov. 12 to 15.

Volunteers are coming from as far away as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Maryland for the clinic.

Cats will be trapped Thursday night through Saturday morning and some locations will have trappers working through the night to monitor traps.

The group is asking anyone with indoor/outdoor cats to please keep them inside Thursday, Nov. 12, through Saturday, Nov. 15. If pet owners have any concerns, they can contact the organization at cicommunitycats@gmail.com

CICC is still collecting donations and items to borrow through the weekend, if anyone is interested in helping with needed supplies, please visit the website, cicommunitycats.org. Donation information is on the UpcomingTNR tab and volunteer information is on the Volunteer tab.

Roske said around 110 cat colonies have been identified on Chincoteague Island.

“I’d also like to say a special thanks to Goodwin Weber PLLC for working with us pro-bono to make Chincoteague Island Community Cats a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 2019,” said Julie Brommer, Chincoteague Island Community Cats president, in an email to the Post.

Brommer wrote about progress made and community support for the group.

“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, CICC was awarded our first grant of $1,500 from the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Spay VA Spay/Neuter Award this summer.

“BlueWater Development donated $1,500 in appreciation of our efforts to help the cats on the Inlet View property and to further our mission.

“Over $2,000 was raised this year with both local business support displaying CICC donation jars and individual PayPal donations.

“Being a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and having the support of the community allows us to TNR 100 cats during our upcoming weekend clinic.” 

Water Supply Update

Testing of a filtration system for Chincoteague’s water supply started Nov. 2 and should be completed no later than Nov. 30, according to Town Manager Mike Tolbert.

“We want to see something that simulates our normal use,” he said.

Once the testing is completed and samples cleared, the town may begin to use its shallow wells again for drinking water.

Tolbert said the three shallow wells are used more in the winter.

The filtration system is owned and operated by NASA.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were identified in April 2017 in Chincoteague’s drinking water, which comes from wells on the mainland.

PFAS are man-made industrial chemicals manufactured since the 1940s that are persistent in the environment and in the human body. In the case of Chincoteague’s drinking water, they are traced to a foam that contained PFAS used at a former fire-fighting training area at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility main base.

“We are pleased to announce that the treatment system is now complete, and testing in late August showed the system was effective in removing the 18 PFAS compounds that have established, certified laboratory methods for analysis. At the Town’s request and before the system is connected to the Town’s water supply, NASA will conduct a two-part operational test running the system and sampling the treated water for PFAS. Results of the system’s performance in this test phase will be shared with the Town as well as federal and state health agencies before the system goes into operation,” an update on nasa.gov said.

CARES Act Update

The town’s second round of CARES Act grants “was more successful than anticipated,” with 35 grants to small businesses and four to watermen to help with COVID-19 relief, according to Tolbert.

To date, Chincoteague has distributed a total of $398,000 in 88 grants to small businesses and 11 to watermen.

Additionally, the town gave $39,575 in hazard pay to certain employees.

The town has a balance of nearly $60,000 of federal funds to allocate, which must be spent before Dec. 30.

Harbor Master’s Fishing Tournament

The 2nd Annual Harbor Master’s Fishing Tournament was held on Oct. 17 at Curtis Merritt Harbor, with around 30 children ages 3 to 12 participating, Tolbert reported.

Fishing poles were provided for those without one as well as all the bait required.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and drinks were provided for lunch.

There was a DJ playing music and the Chincoteague Vol. Fire Company brought two fire trucks for display and inspection.

“Several charter boat captains and experienced fisherman volunteered their time to assist the kids and make sure all had a good time.

Six keepers were caught, all flounder. Each participant received a T shirt commemorating the event and Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle donated fishing hats for all,” according to the report.

Harbor Master Vernon Merritt thanked the individuals and businesses who participated for their donations of time and money.

Police Department Fundraisers

The Chincoteague Police Department again will participate in No Shave November, to raise money for charity, according to Chief Robbie Fisher.

The department also is planning to sell caps to help raise money for the new park under development on Smith Street, which is proposed to be named after Brianna Merritt, who died of cancer.

COVID-19 State of Emergency Update

As of Nov. 2, Chincoteague has had a total of 35 COVID-19 cases, including three in the past week, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Bryan Rush.

Accomack County reported 15 new cases in the past week, he said.

Chincoteague’s test positivity rate is around 8%, a slight increase.