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Martinsville is buzzing about becoming a bee city
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Martinsville is buzzing about becoming a bee city

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Martinsville is abuzz about becoming a bee city after City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to pursue that designation.

The Martinsville Garden Club and Garden Study Club recently contacted city officials with a proposal that the city consider becoming a bee city, which reinforces a commitment to preserving the natural population of bees, which in some cases are threatened by human activity.

City staff met with both groups, and Tuesday night Martinsville Garden Club President Cindy Edgerton explained to council how this concept would work.

“The city may be requested to alter mowing schedules at certain locations, refrain from use of pesticides or to provide spaces for native plantings intended to create and enhance a pollinator habitat,” Edgerton said. Cities often “qualify for more grants and funding if they participate in conservation and ecological programs.”

Edgerton said an application is first submitted to the Xerces Society, which would approve it.

An application fee based on population also would be submitted, and Edgerton estimated that to be about $200 for Martinsville, and the garden club would pay that fee.

Once the city is approved, council formally would adopt a resolution committing to plant native plants, reduce the use of chemicals and provide outreach about related issues.

A bee city is also required to form a working committee to handle these duties, and Edgerton assured council that members of the Blue Ridge Conservation, Piedmont Beekeepers Association and several other organizations will volunteer to see that any responsibilities are met.

Beside the welcoming signs that appear in various locations describing Martinsville as “a city without limits,” you likely would start to see signs designating Martinsville as a bee city.

Other obligations include an outreach to educate the public about the issues facing pollinators and how to help.

A native plants list must be created and notice given where they can be purchased and how best to integrate native plants into future city plantings.

The city also must pledge to reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and file an annual report and renewal fee to Xerces.

According to beecityusa.org, there are 130 bee cities in 43 states. The nearest to Martinsville are Lynchburg in Virginia and Bethania and Winston-Salem in North Carolina.

Boys and Girls Club honored

Joanie Petty, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge, told council that in the middle of the pandemic, her group was one of only two in the state that remained open and one of just 24 in the nation.

“We received the highest award you can receive,” Petty said. “There was a $100,000 donation designated to a rural club, and we got it.

“Our club couldn’t have done it without our community coming together.”

In other matters, City Council:

  • Heard City Manager Leon Towarnicki describe a recent public hearing on the proposed Pine Hall Road project as “well attended, with about 30 people filling the room.”
  • Approved an amendment to the 2021 budget to add $624,842 to the general fund, with the majority, $494,996, coming from a grant reimbursement from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
  • Scheduled the next work session on reversion for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on April 14.
  • Tentatively scheduled May 11 as the day the fiscal year 2021-22 budget will be presented, with a public hearing on May 25 and second reading and adoption on June 8. Three work sessions between the presentation and the public hearing will be scheduled.
  • Read and presented a proclamation recognizing the 100th birthday of local resident Delia Bowman Martin, who will celebrate her today.
  • Read and presented a proclamation recognizing the week of April 4-10 at National Library Week.
  • Read and presented a proclamation recognizing the week of March 28—April 3 as National Boys and Girls Club week.
  • Appointed Callie Hietala to the MHS Historical Society
  • Appointed Kathleen McEvoy to the Architecture Board.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.

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