STEPS Repays PE County

Published 4:19 pm Thursday, December 30, 2010

PRINCE EDWARD – County Supervisors received a returned check and some good news.

The County had approved a $150,000 bridge loan for STEPS, or Southside Training Employment and Placement Services, in March to get its secure document shredding operation going with the expectation that federal earmark funds were on the way.

On December 14, they got the money back.

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“…It is with a glad heart that I am giving you a check back for the money that you loaned us,” STEPS Executive Director Sharon Harrup told the board.

Katie Tucker, business manager for the fledgling business, presented an update to the board. According to Ms. Tucker, they currently service 14 customers in eight counties, have 26 locations and have placed 81 consoles or containers and acquired 28,000 pounds of paper.

Ms. Tucker cited that they are currently employing three with a disability and are in the process of hiring three more and that they currently have three full-time employees and are in the process of hiring an additional worker.

Ms. Tucker highlighted that they have received certification from their secure document alliance and had passed their national accreditation for information destruction.

But the news wasn't all warm and fuzzy for Commonwealth SolutionsVA. While more federal stimulus funds are in line to improve the heating and cooling system-it was projected that it would be late spring or early summer before it would be replaced.

Ms. Harrup asked that the board consider $6,000 for Modine (propane gas) blowers.

“Is it another loan?” asked Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt.

“If it needs to be, it can be, yes sir,” Ms. Harrup responded.

Ms. Harrup offered that they can work it either way, but asked for the board's consideration for it not to be a loan “but it is an immediate need. We're at the point now the pipes in the building are gonna freeze. We are firing the boiler long enough to keep the fire suppression system from freezing, but what happens is that the air handler that is supposed to circulate the warm air back to the shred area, because of the security we had to build in for that operation, the air handler is not functioning to that back part.”

Ms. Harrup said that they've looked at all kinds of alternatives and that the system that they're getting specifications for is to keep the building at about 50 degrees when they're working and then below that but above freezing so the suppression system there won't freeze.

“…It's not…the most ideal situation but it consider it an emergency stop-gap,” she said.

Supervisors agreed to lend the $6,000 until the entity gets funding for the heat system or the board takes a look at it in their budget session.

Return Engagement?

County Administrator Wade Bartlett reported that the County was awarded a Recovery Zone Facility Bond Allocation for the Granite Falls project earlier this year, but the County had to return the allocation. The developer, Bartlett reported, would not have been able to close those bonds by the required date of December 31, Bartlett said.

“It's our understanding that Congress is working on a reallocation of the program for 2011 and what I'm requesting is the authorization that if this extension by Congress is approved, that we submit a new allocation for $25.5 million in recovery zone bonds for the Granite Falls Inn and Conference Center,” Bartlett said.

Those would not be County obligations, he explained; it would be the obligations of the developer.

Enterprise Zone Revisited

County Economic Development Director Sharon Carney told the board that she was contacted by the Department of Housing and Community Development-which manages the enterprise zone-and they had received the County's boundary amendment.

However, she further highlighted, they noticed an “error in our publication for public hearing that we did back in August. And they simply asked that we re-hold another public hearing in January. And, assuming that you guys…reaffirm what you've already approved, they'll add it to our application and it'll still be considered a 2010 application. They'll be no harm, no foul to the public or any industry that was looking to get a enterprise zone grant.”

Board members agreed to authorize a public hearing. There is no change to the parcels approved in September, Ms. Carney indicated, again noting that the properties were all contiguous.

The board is scheduled to hold their hearing January 11.


County supervisors made several appointments to fill expiring terms or vacancies.

The board, specifically, reappointed Sally Gilfillan and Jack Leatherwood to be town representatives on the planning commission and also named Cannon Watson, also from the town, to serve. Supervisors had four candidates to select from with the three positions to fill.

The board, additionally, reappointed W. W. Porterfield (one of two candidates for the position), who has long served as the planning commission's chairman, to return as a county representative on the commission.

The board also reappointed James Garnett Jr. to the Piedmont Regional Jail Board, tapped Juliet Ann Scott as the alternate member on the Piedmont Regional Jail Board, reappointed Mildred Hampton to serve on the Old Dominion RC&D Board, and Assistant County Administrator Sarah Puckett to serve as the alternate on the RC&D Board.

In Other News…

*HOPE Community Services Director Kitty Smith reflected on a community-wide Thanksgiving service. The event, for those 70 years and older, was sponsored by HOPE with the assistance of County Supervisors and many businesses in the community, she said.

“It was an incredible experience for my staff and for the volunteers who worked with us,” she said.

She told the board that they believe it to be one of the most successful events that they've had as an agency and thanked the board.

A valentine's luncheon is being planned along with a senior prom in the spring.

*Southside Family YMCA CEO Dan Albert, who will be departing to take a similar position in Scranton, Pennsylvania, thanked the board. He reflected on the board's vision and leadership four years ago that paved the way for the Y.

“Dan, you've done a remarkable job and the Y has come a long ways under your leadership. We hate to lose you as a citizen of the community, but we thank you for job you've done,” Board Chairman William “Buckie” Fore commented.

*Prospect Supervisor Howard “Pete” Campbell highlighted that there is a puddle at the intersection of Routes 460 and 626 near where the Presbyterian Church is located that needs to be addressed. He cited a problem with ice.

*Supervisors discussed several highway projects of interest and opted to indicate with a non-binding letter of intent to participate in the state's revenue sharing program. The board will have roughly until the spring to decide on what, if any project(s) to pursue.

*The board agreed to authorize a public hearing in January on a rezoning request from Richard Raymond Jr. and Robert Raymond Sr. to rezone a 1.5 acre parcel from A-2 Agricultural residential to C-1 General Commercial to permit a truck rental and used automobile sales business. The Planning Commission was scheduled to hold a separate public hearing on December 21 on the request.

The property is located at 4644 Farmville Road.

*Supervisors approved a $290 appropriation from the asset forfeiture fund, per the Commonwealth's Attorney's request. The funds are to be paid to the Criminal Justice Foundation and are to be used for the training of prosecutors in the event the state cuts training funds.

*The board also approved a $30,000 appropriation from the general fund balance to purchase a new tractor. The front axle of the tractor broke, which caused the hydraulic pump and hub to break. The cost to repair the axle was estimated at $2,700 and the unit is about 45 years old and a hub could not be found and would have to be fabricated.

A new tractor was estimated to cost a little under $30,000.

“We've had continuous problems with this tractor over the last couple (of) years and we've been patching it together but I think the time has come to buy a new tractor, unfortunately,” Bartlett said.

The board authorized the administrator to purchase a tractor by going out to bids and not to exceed $30,000.

*Supervisors agreed to hire an individual on a part-time basis for three months as an option for management of the SCOPE building.

*The board expressed appreciation to individuals associated with the Workforce program, which assisted with work on the SCOPE building.