The tiny bottles of liquor you can buy at the package store are having a big impact on the town of Vernon.

Vernon is using the surcharge on nip bottles, also known as airplane bottles, to beautify the town. Cities and towns receive five cents for every nip bottle sold and state law mandates that the funds be used for litter control and refuse reduction efforts. To that end, Vernon has partnered with two local non-profits that provide vocational training to people with disabilities, Next STEP and Opportunity Works

“Using these funds to keep our community beautiful while at the same time providing work for Opportunity Works and Next STEP is a win for everyone,” Vernon Mayor Dan Champagne said in a press release.

Vernon has received more than $19,000 through the surcharge on nip bottles and has used the funds to contract teams from Opportunity Works and Next STEP to begin working this week to clean up nip bottles and other refuse from downtown Rockville, parks and other public places.

According to Dr. Joseph Macary, the Superintendent of Vernon Public Schools, Students from the Next STEP program will gain vocational skills while working to keep the Vernon community clean and beautiful.

“We require all students to do community service and this program is ideal for that,” Dr. Macary said. “Our students are giving back to the town. They are part of the solution.”

The clean-up teams will be working in neighborhoods and parks around Vernon, including Saxony Dog Park, West Main Street Playground, Talcott Park, Fox Hill Tower, Gene Pitney Memorial Park and Central Park.

This isn’t Opportunity Works first experience with this kind of clean-up work. Last year, they raised about $8,000 by collecting, sorting and cashing in bottles and cans, according to the organization’s co-founder and executive director, Rene Lambert.

The Opportunity Works team is looking forward to another opportunity to help keep the community free of litter.

“They are super excited and keep asking me ‘when do we start, when do we start,’” Lambert said. “Everybody wants to make sure our town and environment is clean and beautiful. This is a great way to achieve that goal and we love working with the Town of Vernon.”

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Tom Hopkins wrote for CII from April 2022 to February 2023. Prior to joining CII, he worked in print, television, and as a freelance journalist.

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