Drought Disaster Request
CUMBERLAND – The County's Board of Supervisors drafted a resolution to the Governor's Office requesting that the area be designated as an agricultural disaster area during the August meeting.
According to the request, which came from Cumberland Extension Agent David Smith (on behalf of the Buckingham and Cumberland Counties' Food and Agriculture Committee), Cumberland has experienced a lack of rainfall, high temperatures, and drought-like conditions over the past several months.
On July 20, the Cumberland and Buckingham Agricultural Emergency Board met and prepared a report re-lated to the drought conditions, according to Smith's request.
“During this meeting the committee unanimously agreed that the lack of rainfall and increased daily tem-peratures caused a decrease in production, quality, and yields on forages, corn, and soybeans. Also, the cur-rent weather conditions have limited area agricultural producers in maintaining/establishing fall forage crops and they have seen a decrease in animal weight gain and production,” states the information relayed to the Supervisors.
Gary Heiser, Cumberland State Forest manager, presented the annual payment from the sale of timber to the County and also provided an update on projects that are scheduled for the forest.
The annual payment in lieu of taxes from the Cumberland State Forest amounted to $35,435.
A few years ago, Cumberland County decided to have 12.5 percent of the overall total amount go toward rec-reation in the state forest.
This year on the Willis River Trail, four parking lots were built with a portion of the money.
In various places, gravel was used and lake improvements were also made.
The current balance in the recreational fund is approximately $96,000, according to Heiser.
At the Cumberland multi-use trail, a parking lot is set for construction so that it will accommodate horse trailers, bicycle riders, and a picnic shelter will also be built along with a well.
“We are also going to make some improvements to the lakes,” said Heiser about the upcoming work. “They are beginning to look a little shabby and the parking areas and things like that…”
The parking area at the multi-use trail will “probably” consume most of the $96,000, according to Heiser.
Work on the parking lot should get started sometime within the next month, he added.
“I did notice that the check was a little bit smaller than last year,” said Chairman Tim Kennell, District Two. “Was the timber harvest a little off this year?”
Heiser explained that the harvesting schedule was “backing off of Cumberland” since it has been “heavily” cut in the past.
“We appreciate the reinvestment that you make,” said Supervisor Bill Osl, District One. “…I think it's a good investment for the recreational purposes.”
According to Heiser, the extra money allows the department to do a few extra things throughout the year to help with recreational and the look of the forest's resources.
The Cumberland Volunteer Rescue Squad, according to Jill Matthews, assistant county administrator of fi-nance, is working with the Sheriff's Office to relocate one of the former High School mobile classrooms to the rescue squad property.
The mobile classroom is divided into two main areas, with one to be used for classroom/training facilities for the squad and one for the Sheriff's Office, according to Ms. Matthews.
In keeping with the County's ordinance, an additional sewer tap is required for the separate structure on the squad property.
The rescue squad is requesting a waiver for the initial $2,725 connection fee for the additional tap and would only pay for the materials necessary for county staff to install the additional tap.
The estimated cost for materials is $400, Ms. Matthews said.
Sheriff Darrell Hodges would also have part of the building to use for training and the cost would be split be-tween the two agencies, she noted.
“There will need to be a user agreement executed on that second tap…and they are agreeable to that be-cause it will be used as a County facility,” said Ms. Matthews.
The mobile unit is currently school property, which was not auctioned off because it was offered to Sheriff Hodges for this use.
County Attorney Howard Estes asked if the “school intends to transfer title?”
He also explained that it needed to be verified if the transfer of title had occurred.
According to Estes, the transfer needs to be made to “whoever is going to own it.”
“We just need to make sure that it is transferred legally,” he added. “If the title hasn't been transferred, we just need to find out who is going to own it whether it's the Sheriff's Office, the County, or the rescue squad…It's just a question of who did they actually surplus it to?”
The sewer tap issue is a separate issue and the title issue can be worked through at a later date, according to Estes.
After the discussion, the Board waived the hookup fee related to the transfer of the mobile unit from the school campus to the rescue squad property on a four to one vote. Supervisor Osl voted in opposition.
The Brown's Voting Precinct was set for a September public hearing during the meeting.
According to Ms. Matthews, the Board wishes to conduct a public auction of the property.
In other business, Parker Wheeler, at-large member, was reappointed to the Planning Commission for an-other three years. Wheeler currently serves as the Chairman of the Commission.
Later, Nell Spain was also appointed to serve as a District Two representative on the Social Services Board.
The Board also approved the request to reappoint Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District Board Director, Barbara Teeple.
Ms. Teeple serves on the Board from Buckingham County but also works with educational programs and Watershed Dams within Cumberland.
The Board also approved the PPTRA (personal property tax relief act) for 2010. The percentage is 46.7, ac-cording to a staff memo from the Commissioner of the Revenue, Anita French.
In addition, the Board discussed appointing two new members to serve on Cumberland's Recycling Task-force. According to Judy Ownby, county administrator, the volunteers would be appointed during the upcom-ing September meeting.
Ms. Ownby also explained to the Board that Cumberland would be allowed to use inactive housing program funds according to DHCD.
“That is the payments that are collected in the Treasurer's Office,” she said. “They are collected for a period of ten years and we are in the eighth year so we only have two more years of collecting. But we are allowed to use those inactive funds to put back into projects that are ongoing.”
She requested that the Board approve the program income plan related to the funds collected.
“DHCD has reviewed the plan and has approved it,” Ms. Ownby noted about two ongoing projects that went over budget due to some unforeseen improvements needing to be made. “Southside Outreach just couldn't spend money without approval…”
The Board unanimously approved the adoption of the plan and the use of the funds.
“These new projects that are outgoing, Southside Outreach collects those and administers the program so our treasurer would not be collecting those payments,” noted Ms. Ownby about the housing program's new projects.
The Board took time during the public comments segment to address the current subdivision ordinance up-date that has been an ongoing project of the Planning Commission's this summer.
“I'm really pleased with the action that they have taken,” noted Supervisor Osl about the updates being made to the ordinance.
The updates, according to past comments, will make the ordinance more user-friendly.
The Board held a joint work session with the Commission in late July.
The Commission hopes to have a completed ordinance submitted to the Supervisors for approval this fall.