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PE To Aid Fire Departments

PRINCE EDWARD – County supervisors, following some discussion at their July 12 meeting, took steps to set up an agreement the firefighters association setting up a loan fund to for departments to make equipment purchases.

Under the plan, the Fire Association would decide how much each department would receive; funds can only be used for upgrading and capital purchases; the County provides up to $600,000 for purchases approved by the Association membership (though $50,000 is to be maintained in cases of emergency); loan terms are set at five years with the County receiving 1.5 percent interest and the Association 1.5 percent (with the Association's interest rolled back into the fund to increase the amount available for capital purchases); funding is to be made available to the rescue squads; and the board, if payments are not made, could defer payment, hold back annual contribution, or take possession of the truck.

The issue for the County in establishing the fund for fire departments is loans. The three percent interest rate (total) is lower than what is typically available (plus half, or 1.5 percent, would go into the fund to help towards other fire depart-ment purchases).

It could also mean less time for the fire departments in securing funds.

Prospect Supervisor and Prospect Fire Department Assistant Chief Howard “Pete” Campbell (who would abstain on the vote on chipping in an additional $100,000) cited that it took from October to the middle of January to get financing for a truck (which is expected to be the first purchase made through the new fund).

“…The banks don't want to lend money right now to volunteer outfits…,” Campbell said.

Prince Edward Rescue Squad President Bill Hogan concurred, noting that he has been dealing with banks since De-cember on financing of re-chassising of vehicles and the purchase of the chassis, which he offered is going to be close to half a million dollars.

In the discussion prior to board approval to adding an additional $100,000 to the $500,000 in the fund, Vice-Chairman Howard Simpson made a motion (which he later withdrew) to essentially set up a separate fund of $100,000 for the squad, but the board eventually agreed to add that fund to the total, bringing the fund up to $600,000.

Farmville District (701) Supervisor Jim Wilck, prior to the vote, offered that if the squad has needs, he has no problems with $100,000. But he added that he would like to make sure there's an allocation that's available to the rescue squads – suggesting that they explore it through committee.

Supervisors, at the end of the discussion, agreed (with Campbell abstaining) to approve a financial agreement drafted by the Association and committee with the County Attorney James R. Ennis to draft it in the form of contract. It would then be brought back to the board for approval.

Memorial Effort

Supervisors, following some discussion, agreed to authorize the creation and installation of an in the line of duty me-morial in the third floor rotunda area in the county's courthouse building outside of the board's meeting room.

The initial list includes Virginia Game Warden Frank H. Gilliam, who died in 1929; Virginia State Trooper Robert W. Smith, 1951; Prospect Firefighter J. Frank Coleman, 1977; and Hampden-Sydney Firefighter David Paul Bruce, 1981.

In addition to authorizing the creation and installation of the memorial, a board committee had recommended, and the full board approved, criteria by which names are to be added to the memorial, the list of names, authorization for a dedi-cation event for Sunday, September 11, and to appropriate $3,500 for the memorial.

Highway Matters

It was cited in a written report of highway activities that the bridge on Rt. 633 over Bush River will be narrowed to one 11-foot lane for repairs.

In other highway news, it was cited that VDOT had investigated a request for a speed limit study on Rt. 683 (Stokes Road) for a possible reduction in speed to 35 MPH.

“The most recent crash data available from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009 revealed that there were no reported crashes along this section of roadway,” the report stated. “Speed data collected for a 24-hour period revealed an 85th per-centile speed of 39 MPH, a median speed of 31 MPH, and a pace speed ranging from 23 MPH to 32 MPH. It was recom-mended that the existing statutory 55/45 MPH speed zone on Rt. 683, from Route 15, a distance of .62 miles, be reduced to 35 MPH based on the 85th percentile speed, the narrow pavement widths, and the existing residential development.”

The reduction is pending.

A request for a Children At Play sign on Redd Shop Road was received, but not VDOT recommended.

“…Based on the field review, we have decided to perform a speed study to determine if the current Statutory 55/45 MPH Speed Limit is appropriate for Route 630, from Route 15 to Route 665,” the report stated.

In Other News…

*Supervisors, in approving their consent agenda, included appropriations and budget amendments. That list reflected the receipt of grant funds for STEPS ($668,000). The County had loaned the funds with the expectation of the grant. The funds targeted an upgraded heating and cooling system and improved lighting at the Farmville facility. The list also re-flected a $20,000 contribution to the library approved the prior month.

The consent agenda also included budget amendments and appropriations reflecting receipt and appropriation of a $4,000 DARE donation and $162,600 in grant funds for the school (which requires no increase in appropriations from local funding).

Hampden District Supervisor Charles McKay, citing the number of accidents on Rt. 604, asked the Highway Depart-ment to check into possibly reducing the speed limit to 45 MPH from the county line to where the speed limit is 45 MPH.

*Supervisors approved the annual performance contract for Crossroads Services.

*The board agreed to hold a work session to review a regional water supply plan on Thursday, July 28 and set a public hearing for their August meeting on a proposal to change the county's water/wastewater ordinance to give the County the power to enforce Town water users living in the county.

*Supervisors, following some discussion, agreed to modify an existing contract with Draper Aden. County officials – to bring the Sandy River Reservoir dam into compliance with state safety regulations – are looking to complete an engineer-ing study to evaluate alternatives. A Breech Mapping and Inundation Report (BIZ study) completed by Schnabel Engineer-ing determined that floodwater would overtop the dam during a severe event. The study indicates that the dam overtops by 2.3 feet of water during the probable maximum flood.

“To give you the scope of what you're talking about, (I) believe it is 14 inches of rain in six hours,” Bartlett offered. “And then it goes to a 24-hour and a 48-hour rain. It is a pile of rain.”

There are options, such as raising the height of the dam or lowering the spillway.

An engineering study and alternatives assessment is required to complete the Operation and Maintenance Certificate.

*Supervisors granted the sheriff's department the authorization to apply for two grants. In one, the Sheriff's Office and the Farmville Police Department will partner to purchase surveillance equipment. The $20,646 grant requires a $2,294 match, which are available from the Sheriff's budget from a capital projects line items and requires board authorization to spend. A second grant – a two-year bulletproof vest partnership grant-factors a 50 percent federal reimbursement.

*Board members agreed for the County to become a sponsoring locality for a grant for Virginia's Retreat. The county will oversee the financial disbursement of grant funds (with no additional financial obligation) and will provide office space for the regional office in the former Moore Building. Virginia's Retreat is a regional tourism marketing effort that repre-sents Prince Edward and 13 other localities. They are seeking to apply for $508,500 from the Tobacco Commission's spe-cial projects fund to develop an overall strategic plan, an overall marketing plan commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The goal is to have start-up funds to hire an executive director for three years to oversee and to continue to create the region's tourism product.

*The board agreed to provide a letter of support for the R. R. Moton Museum, which is seeking $1.6 million in grant funds from the Tobacco Commission to help finish up the Museum's project.

*With the resignation of Patricia Keaveny Smith, supervisors appointed Nancy Currie to fill the unexpired term on the Central Virginia Regional Library Board. The term expires in 2014.

*Board members agreed to allow workers to participate in the Commonwealth's Long Term Care Insurance Program (provided through the Virginia Retirement System). The program is voluntary and the cost would be paid by the employ-ees.

Public Comment

*County Animal Control Officer Ray Foster recognized new deputy animal control officer Holly Morris, who graduated from Prince Edward County High School in 2004 and graduated from Longwood College in 2007 with a degree in criminal justice. She attended the animal control officer academy and graduated the highest in the class of 13.

*John Jenks, of United Methodist Family Services, notified that they're looking to expand their Farmville office by re-cruiting and training foster parents to deal with special needs children. He noted that they deal with children that have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused.

*Speaker Henry Shelton presented a lengthy list of questions and comments related to the proposed water project: among the lengthy list, he asked what happens to the $5 million already spent on the design building project; if there would be more feasibility studies done by someone outside of the county; will the public have any sway over the authority; will the taxpayer have the ultimate responsibility of the actions of the authority when it defaults on the bond's due date; who owns the system serving the industrial area (south of Town); if the county has possession of documents already paid for (related to the water project study); and at what point would the two jurisdictions have to seize the systems due to total failure.