By Carol Vaughn —
Julie Brommer, president of Chincoteague Island Community Cats, reported the group held a successful trap-neuter-release weekend clinic on Chincoteague.
Brommer spoke during a public comment period at the Chincoteague Town Council May meeting.
A Pennsylvania group donated cat and dog food to CICC, which gave the food to local cat colony caregivers and to Manna Cafe for distribution to residents.
Forty-six cats were trapped during the clinic — one was a pregnant female and gave birth to five kittens during the clinic.
Cats can become pregnant around three times per year and give birth to an average of five kittens per litter, Brommer said.
“So you can see how quickly the population can become unsustainable,” she said.
All the cats trapped received rabies and other vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, and were microchipped.
Additionally, 25 kittens were rounded up during the clinic.
The organization also held three educational talks for the public during the clinic.
Brommer thanked town officials for allowing CICC to use the old firehouse on Main Street for the clinic.
New Chamber Event Attracts Visitors
Joanne Moore of the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce said 16 businesses participated in a new event, “Around the Tump in Three Days,” in which visitors purchased playing cards giving them business discounts, specials, and special activities to enjoy throughout the weekend of April 30 through May 2.
Around 250 people participated, Moore said.
“The feedback from the event has been great from both the participants’ side and the business side,” she said, noting one couple who had not visited Chincoteague in 20 years said they found the event “a great way to reconnect with the island.”
Businesses reported good sales and many first-time visitors during the event, Moore said.
The annual Chincoteague seafood festival, typically held in May, was the fifth major chamber-sponsored event canceled in the past 14 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, visitor numbers at the chamber office and website visits are both up, indicating “we are in for a great summer season,” Moore said.
Chincoteague Water Supply
Town manager Mike Tolbert said a water filtration system NASA constructed for the town’s water supply is now operational. The system was put in place after per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found in April 2017 in town wells, which are on the mainland.
PFAS are 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 were traced to a foam used at a former fire-fighting training area at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility main base.
NASA has proposed in its federal budget request an item which, if approved, would provide $14 million over five years to relocate the town’s wells away from NASA property, Tolbert said.
Upcoming Wallops Launches
NASA Wallops Flight Facility has scheduled for this summer seven sounding rocket launches and two larger rocket launches, including a Minotaur launch in June and an Antares International Space Station supply mission set for the evening of July 31, Tolbert said.
Tolbert and Mayor J. Arthur Leonard participated in a call with Rep. Elaine Luria in April to discuss potential funding for a proposed three-year, $3 million study of the Chincoteague Inlet by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Half the amount, $1.5 million, must come from non-federal sources. Accomack County to date has contributed $200,000.
Luria said she will continue to work with the town to try to get the project moving forward, according to Tolbert.
The inlet at the south end of the island has changed dramatically over time, resulting in erosion of wetlands that formerly protected the area.
The town approached the Army Corps for help in 2016 and was told it needed to raise $3 million for a study, with $1.5 million of that being in the form of a local match.
The study since has been authorized by the Corps.
To proceed, it must be included in the federal administration’s budget request, funds must be appropriated by Congress, and a feasibility cost sharing agreement must be executed between the town and the Army Corps, according to Tolbert.
Councilwoman Denise Bowden recommended town officials again ask the state to contribute to the project, after a previous request was unsuccessful.
“We are pursuing other options for funding for that program and we are going to stay on it and see if we can get somebody to bite,” Tolbert said.
Ocean Breeze Roads
The town council approved a resolution asking the Virginia Department of Transportation to add roads in the Ocean Breeze neighborhood to the urban system for maintenance. If approved the town could receive state funds to improve the roads.
The council approved retroactive payment, dating to July 1, 2020, of a raise to town employees, at a total cost of $24,000. The council previously approved the raise starting in December 2020.