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Help For PE Fire Depts.

PRINCE EDWARD – Last month, County supervisors moved forward with setting up a fund for area fire departments to tap into for capital projects. Last week, County Attorney James R. Ennis looked to the board for help drafting an agreement.

“I need to know the structure of each fire department as to whether or not they are incorporated – are they non-stock corporations, are they simply loose associations,” Ennis cited. “The same would be true with the Firefighters Association, whether or not they have been created as a legal entity capable of entering into an enforceable agreement with the County or is it just a loose association that people have banded together and agreed to a set of rules, but none of which have any legal authority to execute documents with the County much less a note that would be payable back to this fund in the event of an equipment purchase.”

The board previously took steps to set up an agreement with the association and set up a $600,000 loan fund for the departments and rescue squad to make equipment purchases. Specifically, the 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 fund could save individual departments time for loans and offer a three percent interest rate total with half of those monies going back to the fund to help towards other purchases.

“…If everything goes perfect, you don't need an agreement and you don't need lawyers,” Ennis commented. “This document needs to be drafted in the event that there is a default by one of the departments so everybody knows where they stand.”

It would also outline who has the liability for the repayment of the money.

Prospect's Fire Department, penciled in first on the list for a capital purchase, is projected to need funds by the middle of September.

And that makes for a short timetable. The individual departments as well as the association may need to address nuts and bolts procedural matters-such as granting the authority to execute agreements and enter into an agreement with the County.

County officials planned to contact each of the organizations and get their official name for the attorney, who can then verify incorporation.

Highway Matters

A written update was included in the board's packet detailing highway projects. It was reported that Route 613 over the Sandy River is now open and that emergency repairs have been completed and the bridge on Rt. 633 over Bush River is open to traffic. The scheduled advertisement date for the project to replace the bridge is December 2013.

In other VDOT news, a speed study on Redd Shop Road has been done and it was recommended that the current speed limit on the road from Rt. 15 North to Route 665 be reduced to 45 MPH; following a study VDOT will place a “Littering Is Illegal” sign for a section on Rt. 15 (following a traffic engineering review of about a 1.2 mile section south of Rt. 665); a 750 feet distance sign will be installed on the existing side road warning sign and a watch for turning vehicles sign will be installed on Rt. 47 in advance of the intersection of Route 671 for southbound traffic; and a request to reduce the speed limit to 45 MPH on Germantown Road is under review.

A request on a study to lower the speed limit on Rice Depot Road in the area prior to and after crossing the trail has been forwarded to VDOT.

County officials will look at the numbers following concerns that there have been a number of drivers going east in the west-bound lane in the area between Prospect and Dowdy's Corner.

It was suggested that they get a call tally and forward that information to VDOT and ask if they can help investigate why it is happening.

Prospect Supervisor Howard “Pete” Campbell, who raised the concern, assessed that “it's something that needs to be addressed,” and noted the growth in calls since July 3.

In Other News…

*Supervisors agreed to contribute $500 to the Commonwealth Regional Council to help with the costs for the program used in the redistricting process.

*New Southside Virginia Family YMCA Director Jane Schirmer introduced herself to the board and discussed her background. She detailed she has been in the YMCA movement for 22 years and has been in every Y in the country except New Mexico and Maine.

“And I can tell you that the Y that we have here at Southside is something to be very, very proud of,” Ms. Schirmer said, “extremely proud of.”

*Henry Shelton, also speaking during public comment, re-offered a list of questions (many related to the County's water project, water authority proposal or study) he presented to the board last month. Shelton said that he had received a response.

*Tom Zaebst, Assistant State Forest Manager with the Virginia Department of Forestry, presented the annual check for the county's share of proceeds of timber sales in the Prince Edward-Gallion State Forest. This year's total was $35,260.86.

*Supervisors approved a consent agenda that included a reappropriation of $111,646.21 in unexpended funds to the various fire departments. Funds were broken down by department. The consent agenda also included the appropriation of a $1,000 donation for DARE.

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved an event permit for Riverside Community Church to hold an event at the fairgrounds on August 27.

*Board members approved a resolution seeking the placement of a “Watch For Children” sign on Route 775.

*Supervisors agreed to reappoint Mable Shanaberger to the Piedmont ASAP Board.

*The board approved a resolution in support of the restoration of state funding for aid to localities, though Bartlett assessed it has about a zero percent chance of passing the state legislature. Still, he added if you don't ask, you never have that chance.

*Hampden District Supervisor Charles McKay, Farmville District Supervisor Jim Wilck, and Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt were tapped to serve on the county's legislative committee. That committee is expected to work on the County's legislative priorities for the 2012 session of the General Assembly.

*Board members agreed with a personnel committee recommendation to permit the Department of Social Services to hire a part-time worker (to be revaluated every six month).