Fore Named PE Chairman

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – A new year can mean change, but in Prince Edward's case, not so much.

County supervisors, kicking off 2012, held their annual organizational meeting and with unanimity, kept things much as they were in 2011.

Specifically, board members again named Buffalo District Supervisor William “Buckie” Fore as chairman and Farmville District (101) Supervisor Howard Simpson as vice-chairman for two-year terms.

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The two were the only candidates for the positions.

Fore thanked fellow members on his and Simpson's behalf for their “vote of confidence in reinstating us as chair and vice chair. I appreciate that very much.”

Simpson concurred.

Other non-changes for the year…

The board will continue to hold their regular meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the county's courthouse. Supervisors will have the same bylaws, continue to operate with the same committee system, adopted the same board rules of procedures for public hearings, protocol for public participation, have the same protocol for board of supervisors comments and the same conflict of interest policy.

One change is that there will only be three supervisors on the board's personnel committee. Former Farmville District (801) supervisor Mattie Wiley was not re-elected and, rather than fill the vacancy, the committee will operate with three members.

Highway Matters

Virginia Department of Transportation Dillwyn Residency Administrator Kevin Wright presented a report and fielded questions on highway matters from the board.

Among the highlights:

*A No Through Truck restriction in the Rice community is still in the processing stages.

*Stokes Road, Wright detailed, is low volume and doesn't qualify for a full speed study and was not approved for any reduction in speed. Wright also detailed the accident rate is low, citing that there was only one reported crash in three years, where a vehicle ran off of the road and into a fixed object. (Supervisor Simpson, however, peppered comments on the need to slow the traffic.)

*They would be going in, weather permitting, and relocating stream movement and stopping erosion and repairing the shoulder on Route 307.

*About four pipes will need to be replaced on Worsham Road. They will be working on that within the next month and will close the road for a couple of days. Message boards will be placed.

*Bridge work on Route 660 is about done; they would start work on Route 628 (Mountain Creek Road) within the next week or two; and contractors are continuing to cut trees on the slopes of U. S. Route 460.

Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt asked Wright about the protocol for snow removal. Wright explained that it hasn't really changed from the previous year. The plan is that once it stops snowing, the goal is to have all the roads passable within 48 hours.

“We're not gonna necessarily have black pavement and road within 48 hours, but our goal is to get everything passable,” Wright said.

If there is a less than three or four inches, they would hit the secondary roads as soon as the snow stops. If it's an extended snow, then they start hitting them a little earlier. They will stay on the more major secondary roads-he used the example of Five Forks Road-to keep them moving as much as possible.

He also noted that you won't see salt applied on many of the secondary roads. Wright also noted if they place salt on a tar and gravel (surface treated) secondary road, on it, it eats away the tar and gravel. They may use some sand but, he cited, they can use some salt on asphalt secondary roads.

If its less than two or three inches of snow, Wright also offered, they will not touch a gravel road. “And the reason is, if we take those trucks in there on it, it's gonna just tear it up,” he said.

If it's a six or eight inch snow , they should be coming in within 48 hours.

Hampden District Supervisor Charles McKay relayed concerns about a drainage issue in the ditch line off of Route 15. Prospect Supervisor Howard “Pete” Campbell also relayed a drainage concern in the Prospect district as well as the need to trim a bush out in the road off of Route 600 in the Rice area. Simpson presented a request for a center line request on Stokes Road near the intersection with Route 15.

Public Comments

Henry Shelton raised concern about one-way arrows blocking the views from the south-bound traffic on Route 15 for those taking the east-bound bypass exit ramp onto Route 15.

He suggested that it be moved a few inches in either direction. Wright later offered that he would be meeting with the traffic engineer and would submit that to them.

Cornell Walker thanked the board for their help. Walker had previously asked for the county's assistance in getting a property cleaned up on Dry Bridge Road. He noted that it was cleaned up on Christmas Eve.

“The inside of the house has not been cleaned up, it is still a fire hazard. But what has been done is a hundred percent better,” Walker said. “And on behalf of the residents of Dry Bridge Road, thank you.”

In Other Action…

*Supervisors approved a consent agenda that included a dance hall permit for Fever's Restaurant & Lounge.

*Board members began the months-long process of selecting school board members. Supervisors will select two members this year, including representatives from the Buffalo and Leigh districts. Board members from those respective districts are expected to announce citizen committees (that aid in the process) of three to five members at their February meeting.

*Supervisors discussed a request from the Old Dominion Conservation and Development Council to appoint someone from the agricultural community to serve on a steering committee of the new Buy Fresh/Buy Local Chapter. The board discussed two possible individuals who would need to be contacted to see if they are interested in serving.

*Board members approved a resolution recognizing constitutional officer week, January 16-20.

*Supervisors, nearing the end of three one-year contracts with Davenport & Company as a financial advisor (the contract expires this March), agreed to issue a new request for qualifications (RFQ) and authorized the county administrator to solicit proposals. (It was anticipated that there would be no retainer and that services would be paid on a project-by-project basis.

*Board members also agreed to issue a RFQ for annual engineering services and a request for qualifications for landfill engineering services.

*The board agreed to schedule a joint meeting with the school board, aimed at preliminary budget discussions, for January 31. Supervisors also scheduled a strategic planning session for February 3.

*County Administrator Wade Bartlett explained lottery funding for education. One of the ways the state saved money over the last few years, is that they reduced state aid, he cited, and replaced it with the lottery.

*Supervisors discussed options for improving the handrails in the courthouse atrium. Options were presented for discussion and county officials are expected to price a second rail about twenty inches above the existing rail.

*After some discussion, board members approved a funding request from Sheriff Wesley Reed. Sheriff Reed cited that he was attempting to put together a package for a chief deputy that would keep the salary ($56,155) of his old position the same. Pending any comp board funding change, the County would receive about $5,000 less for the position.

“The individual that I'm looking at brings a lot to the table…And I think he would do great things for Prince Edward County Sheriff's office, if he accepts,” Reed said.

The Sheriff detailed that he specializes in grant writing and operational management.

Bartlett noted the total savings with having a new sheriff (at a lower salary) and the impact of less money from the comp board for the new position is $2,927 (factoring benefits as they currently exist) per year.

*Supervisors agreed to hold a public hearing to consider an ordinance authorizing the funding for a tourism project for their February meeting.

The board held a series of public hearings at their December 13 meeting and approved ordinances that outline the creation of tourism zones, adoption of a tourism plan, and an ordinance creating a tourism project. Bartlett explained then that it is one of the steps that is required to allow the County to access state incentives available through the newly created Virginia Tourism Development Financing program. The tourism zone includes two parcels (that would be part of the planned Granite Falls hotel and conference center project south of Farmville), though the zone could be expanded to include other properties.

Bartlett outlined that it would allow the County to receive the incremental tax increase from the sales tax from any activities located with the zone.

State legislators last year established financing for qualified tourism development projects that aims to provide a gap financing mechanism for projects in partnership with developers, localities, financial institutions and the state. The program offers a method of financing to compensate for a shortfall in project funding not to exceed 20 percent of a qualified project's cost.

For eligible projects (which includes retail, hotels and convention centers), that means one percent of the state sales tax generated by the project matched by an equal amount of local tax revenue, matched by an equal amount from the developer can be used to help pay the debt service on the project.