by Henry Lane Hull
For over a quarter of a century Leon Saffelle has afforded the residents of the Northern Neck, and beyond, the opportunity to recycle metal for money at his facility on Route 360 near Lottsburg. Across that time span thousands of abandoned vehicles, tractors, used appliances, metal roofing, aluminum doors and windows, as well as a myriad of other items have found their way to Leon’s operation, thereby enhancing the roadside appearance of many properties by their notable absence.
For much of that period Leon’s endeavor, Rite-Way Recycling, has been managed effectively and successfully by Loretta Hays, and the business office has been in the capable hands of Sandy Hayes. These two ladies have made recycling a joy to many of us, in our family especially to the B.E.s, each of whom we introduced to recycling at an early age. Leon refers to his place as “the junkyard,” which is an accurate description of the work at hand, but the result of his efforts is far more than a heap of metal.
Leon and his wife, Ann, built a home in its midst and a shop where Leon experiments with modifying racing cars. In a fenced yard around their home the Saffelles have a beautiful garden, meticulously landscaped with flowers, shrubs and trees. Leon happily gives full credit for the gardening success to Ann.
For her part while managing the facility, Loretta has accumulated a veritable menagerie of domestic animals which include goats, chickens and ducks, all resident in neatly maintained pens behind Sandy’s office. Being a fellow pet lover, I have enjoyed watching the course of her progress in animal husbandry. She truly is devoted to the welfare of her hairy and feathered friends, and readily shares her enthusiasm for them.
Loretta is the model of a hands-on manager. She knows every aspect of the business, can quote spot prices on every type of metal, and keeps precise order in the face of constantly moving trucks and heavy equipment. She remains undaunted by any challenge that might come her way and greets all of her customers as the good friends that they have become.
Sandy works in her small office beside the industrial scales that weigh the vehicles loaded with recyclables, and handles the payouts after folks deposit their wares in the appointed locations. The process is both utterly smooth and totally efficient, which can be credited to the extraordinary capabilities of both ladies, who quickly learn their patrons’ names and always engage in friendly conversations. For many of us going to “the junkyard” is a social occasion thanks to Loretta and Sandy.
This month changes are in the offing. Loretta is leaving the business tomorrow, as is Sandy next week. Loretta is moving on to new adventures, and Sandy is retiring to her cabin near Ruckersville, thereby leaving two tremendous gaps in the service industry in the Northern Neck. For many, to think of recycling is to think of Loretta and Sandy.
Leon, Loretta and Sandy have contributed to the improvement of our quality of life by making environmental concerns economically profitable for many who otherwise might not be inclined to clean up their properties. Their contributions have exceeded improving the appearances of yards and farms in that they also have made possible the betterment of our tributaries by preventing runoff into tidal waters of the many contaminants emanating from waste metal.
As Loretta and Sandy leave the busy arena of recycling for new futures elsewhere, everyone in the Northern Neck can thank them for working with Leon to make our life on this “Moated Eden,” to use the term coined by the late historian, C. Jackson Simmons, cleaner and safer, more beautiful and more environmentally friendly for us and for generations to come.