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PE-Town Will Meet Thursday

FARMVILLE – Town Council recessed its meeting last Wednesday night to poise itself for Thursday's joint meeting with the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors.

The two governing bodies will gather and convene at noon at the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library, with the County hosting.

The library is one of the most successful joint projects undertaken by the Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County and the two governing bodies last met in April, with the Town hosting, shortly after celebrating the ribbon-cutting of the facility.

As with the spring joint meeting, there is no agenda for next Thursday's gathering, a formula that was warmly received by council members and supervisors, alike, earlier this year.

The two governing bodies felt the lack of a specific agenda actually created the atmosphere for a more effective meeting, where there could be informal discussions, an information sharing, each locality bringing the other up-to-date on any major projects.

Official on both sides concur that such knowledge creates a better atmosphere of understanding.

And there is no pressure, or possible friction point, of voting specific agenda items up or down, hence no arguments 'for' or 'against' anything and so nobody leaves perceiving themselves as the joint meeting's winner or loser.

A win-win, instead, for the Board of Supervisors and Town Council.

And filling in the blanks face-to-face removes any impetus for anyone to try and fill in the blanks themselves without first-hand knowledge and thus come to a false conclusion that could create misunderstanding and, possibly, animosity.

Around one of the tables during April's meeting sat Town Council members David E. Whitus and Donald L. Hunter and Board of Supervisors members Don Gantt and Jim Wilck and the four got along famously.

“I was impressed by the fact we could have a meeting and (learn) our direction is similar,” said council member Hunter after the meeting. “Both entities are trying to do what's best for the Town and the County. And I know the history, that it's hard to get us together, but our mindset is similar. We both like doing things for our constituents.”

Each of the four men left that April joint meeting impressed with the genuinely friendly nature of the gathering, as well as the level of information provided.

“I thought it went extremely well,” Whitus agreed, afterwards. “The mood was very cordial.”

Gantt concurred. “As a new board member, I really feel these guys are a lot more approachable. The atmosphere was gracious,” he said. “It was just nice.”

“We both seemed to enjoy the camaraderie among each other,” Hunter said. “It seems like it's going to work well. I see nothing negative out of the meeting we had. And I'm looking forward to having more.”

The Town issued the invitation for that spring joint meeting, which meant the return fixture was in the County's hands.

“I certainly hope they can continue,” said Wilck, who had been outspoken regarding the need for the Board of Supervisors and Town Council to work together. “I found it to be extremely valuable.”

The two council members and the pair of supervisors understood that creating the most effective partnership between the two governing bodies is a process that requires attention and nurturing.

“It goes back to building a relationship,” Whitus said. “You have to work individually and collectively on those relationships, building relationships and rapport.

“This,” Whitus said of the spring joint meeting, “was a good start to that.”

Such a good start that Hunter came away believing the meetings, which are meant to be information-sharing sessions, may produce joint ventures in the future.

“Maybe we can get together on more projects,” Hunter said. The joint meeting, again, followed on the heels of Friday's grand opening of that new Town and County-built Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library which will see the two governing bodies gather next Thursdays. “We're separate but we have the same common goals.”

Whitus was equally optimistic six months ago. “I think that's a real possibility,” he said of possible future joint ventures. “Some shared goodwill projects we can do.”

Which will save taxpayers money, Wilck notes.

“I think it costs the Town and County an awful lot of money when we get our backs up and refuse to work together,” he said, “and that's ridiculous.”