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National County Government Month Celebrates Successful Household Hazardous Waste Program

County Commissioners welcome new SHINE Director  

April 12, 2023 (BARNSTABLE, MA) – Continuing with this month’s recognition of National County Government Month and a focus on how the county protects Cape Cod’s water, Kalliope Chute, Hazardous Materials Environmental Specialist presented an update at the County Commissioners’ regular meeting on the Household Hazardous Waste Program (HHW).  

Ms. Chute shared that Cape Cod hosts more collection events than anywhere else in Massachusetts – 24 each year, and collections are free for residents to dispose of hazardous materials within their designated zone.  The HHW program also makes a big difference in the safety of emergency responders, is available to the 4,300 small businesses on Cape Cod that need help disposing of hazardous waste and helps fire stations safely get rid of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF).  

In a Lower Cape TV interview played from April 6, 2023, Ms. Chute explains that it is important to understand why household hazardous waste is a threat. “Cape Cod has an aquifer, an underground storage of water where 100% of our drinking water comes from and is a more vulnerable type of aquifer in that it is unconfined, meaning that it doesn’t have a barrier that protects it from above-ground activities, or even items that are flushed down our drains.” 

Ms. Chute emphasized the crucial importance of protecting our water. “All of our water [on Cape Cod] is connected. We are, in fact, communities connected by water. Everything that happens in our aquifer happens in our ponds and lakes, streams, rivers, embayments, and harbors.” Hazardous waste contamination is not always noticeable, often hiding in plain sight as colorless or odorless, but Ms. Chute reminds the public of the good news – there are 24 opportunities on Cape Cod each year to prevent contamination from happening. Learn more at

Today, the Board s accepted a donation to the Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission in the amount of $25,000.00 to be used to establish the John L. Reed Memorial Human Rights Fund.  The donation will support the County’s work in promoting social justice and advancing human rights, supporting its advocacy efforts, education and outreach programs, and other projects that promote human rights on Cape Cod.  John L. Reed was a tireless advocate for human rights who passed away last month.  On April 29th at 3:30 pm a memorial celebration will be held at Barnstable High School to celebrate John Reed.  

Today the Board authorized an Intermunicipal Agreement with Cotuit Fire Department and Barnstable County for shared use of wildfire training equipment. Chief Burke and Deputy Chief Clark attended today’s meeting and noted that the agreement demonstrates a forward-thinking approach to equipping our region with sufficient fire protection equipment. The partnership with Cotuit Fire Department is expected to bolster wildfire response County-wide. 

In other news, Department of Human Services Director Joseph Pacheco introduced the new Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone (SHINE) Director, Kristina Whiton-O’Brien, a licensed independent social worker with over three decades of experience in the field. Ms. Whiton-O’Brien has an impressive background in volunteer work and program management and is a faculty member at Boston University.   

Barnstable County’s SHINE program provides free health insurance information, counseling, and assistance to Cape Cod residents with Medicare and their caregivers.  It was noted that Barnstable County has one of the oldest populations in the country, and Ms. Whiton-O’Brien discussed the complexities of signing up for Medicare and how SHINE offers counseling to those 65 and over or with a disability to navigate the process.  

In her update, County Administrator Beth Albert offered a reminder to residents to join a virtual public meeting discussing updates to the county’s mitigation plan against harmful PFAS substances discovered at a former fire training site; the county continues to follow guidelines set forth by MassDEP under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan. This virtual meeting takes place on Thursday, April 13 at 5:30 PM, and the link can be found on the calendar at

THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO WATCH OR JOIN A FUTURE COMMISSIONERS’ MEETING Stay informed and engaged with Barnstable County meetings by visiting the Meeting Center at Find the Commissioners’ calendar, meeting agendas, and useful resources on how to participate. You can also live-stream meetings on YOUTUBE. Barnstable County is committed to providing accessible accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Contact Justyna Marczak, Barnstable County ADA/Non-Discrimination Coordinator, at or call 508-375-6646 for additional information. 

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offer a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County. Learn more at