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PE To Book Support

PRINCE EDWARD-Can the County and Town save by refinancing the library bond?

Book it.

“The Town of Farmville is looking at refinancing several of their long term debt instruments,” explained County Administrator Wade Bartlett at the April 10 board of supervisors meeting. “One of the debt instruments they were looking at is the library bond that was issued in 2009.”

While that was not jointly issued by the two entities, it is the responsibility of both-with the County responsible for two-thirds and the Town one-third. The refinancing, Bartlett also detailed, will require approval by the board in a resolution and a memorandum of agreement.

The Town's resolution, it was also noted, requires a savings of at least three percent or they will not refinance; however, it has been estimated that the County would save between $9,915 to $13,148 annually.

The board agreed, and allowed the signing of the resolution and addendum, effectively opening for the Town to move forward on the refinancing.

Paris Ceramics

Supervisors agreed to authorize the transfer of $170,000 from County Economic Development funds to the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) which will be loaned to Paris Ceramics for the purchase of a new water jet saw. The loan is fully amortizing over seven years with principal and interest payments due monthly at five percent simple interest and using the water jet saw as collateral. The equipment will allow the firm to do enhanced architectural designs in stone and require an additional employee position.

School Board Nominees

Supervisors took the next step in the long school board appointment process that will culminate in June.

Buffalo District Citizen Committee Chairman Carl Blessing reported that they had received four applicants and had met with each applicant and forwarded two recommendations: current representative and school board chairman Russell Dove and Melvin R. Reynolds Jr.

Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt noted that the committee in that district had not had the time to meet with all of the candidates and requested an additional week or two.

In April, the final list of nominees will be announced and a public hearing is expected to be held in May.

Special Use

Supervisors held a public hearing on a request from Mark S. Smith for a special use permitting the Agricultural Conservation (A-1) zoning requirements to operate a commercial outdoor sports and recreation use on property located off of Monroe Church Road in Rice.

The County's planning commission recommended the board favorably consider the special use permit with conditions and the board, following the public hearing, agreed.

The commission specified several conditions, including that there be no alcohol, no trap shooting or gun activities, that the sign be per the specifications in zoning use and design standards and placement compliant with Virginia Department of Transportation regulations; future expansion beyond the proposed site would require a review by the Commission; that there is to be no noise-generating mechanical equipment used at the facility; and the hours of operation be adhered to per the proposed hours (hours are planned for spring, summer and fall seasons with hours running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Specifically, plans are in the works for a ropes course with elevated decks in trees with obstacles and have such things as cargo mats, zip lines and tunnels and feature special equipment, focusing on ages seven and older.

“It's a…challenge course to build self-confidence and challenge your fears and a great family outdoor activity for attracting people and tourism in the county,” Candice Smith explained. “We're not impacting our forest area.”

M. Smith also noted, “I'm not taking the idea of putting families at risk lightly. This is serious for me, so I've invested a great deal of money to ensure that they're safe.”

Courses will be set according to the level of difficulty.

“Of all the people I've talked to,” Farmville District Supervisor Jim Wilck commented, “I have not found any negatives to it at all.”

He agreed with the assessment that it will bring tourists.

More Hearings

Supervisors held a public hearing on a special use permit application from Virginia Electric and Power Company to construct a substation along Worsham Road between the intersection of Leigh Mountain Road and Westover Ridge Drive. The Planning Commission, which previously held a public hearing, had recommended approval.

Charles Fore, speaking in the public hearing, opposed the substation being that close to his house.

A representative from Dominion outlined a need for additional growth and reliability for the south end of the county, for reliability to Hampden-Sydney.

Following a lengthy discussion, which included a focus on the specific site, the board approved the site. Chairman William “Buckie” Fore and Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt abstained. Fore would offer in the reasoning to abstain prior to the vote that this had become a family matter.

Supervisors also held a public hearing and approved a special use permit application from Amanda Wells for Four Paws Bed & Breakfast, a commercial kennel facility use in the A-2 (Agricultural Residential) zoning district. The site is to be accessed from Persimmon Tree Fork Road. The County's planning commission had recommended the board favorably consider the special use permit application facility allowing up to 30 kennels, operating and adhering to the proposed hours of operation, that the site be constructed per the site plan and include the equivalent of four parking spaces.

The hours of operation are expected to be Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday likely by appointment.

The board also held a public hearing on proposed changes in the animal control ordinance bringing it into compliance with state code. Two sections include substantive changes, it was cited, including the deletion of a dog operating fund (which the County does not use in its budget process) and, again following state code, sets the number of dogs at ten for a kennel instead of the five the County previously specified.

Supervisors also held a public hearing and agreed to repeal of the County's fireworks ordinance, which effectively sends applicants through the State Fire Marshal's office for fireworks displays. It was noted that the state's fireworks regulations have changed. The state now requires at least one person at each fireworks display to be certified by the Fire Marshal's office as a pyrotechnician. Prince Edward does not have a fire marshal to inspect and permit fireworks shows.

The approved changes doesn't prohibit the use of permissible fireworks as defined in State Code, and does not prohibit large fireworks displays, which are regulated by the State Fire Marshal's office. (It was noted in the discussion the state will only issue a permit on state-owned property. However, the change would mean those holding large displays could still hold them, but would have to abide by state regulations and have a pyrotechnician in charge of the display.

“And if something goes wrong,” County Attorney James R. Ennis offered, “then the answer is at the state level if they fail to follow the state guidelines. Because all we were doing is taking an application without the ability to enforce this ordinance because we don't have the expertise to enforce it. So it kind of became redundant…to involve the county in the process when they can go directly to the state.”

The state, he added, can give them the certification as far as the pyrotechnician, and then they have to follow the state regulations any way.

“It takes the County out of the chain of liability,” Bartlett added.

In Other News…

*Supervisors approved a consent agenda that included several appropriations including $7,756 the Circuit Court Clerk received from the Technology Trust Fund, monies that are to be used to pay the annual maintenance contract for the ILS contract for indexing, and a $2,500 transfer requested by the Commonwealth's Attorney from a portion of the forfeited asset fund to the Sheriff's Department to enhance the neighborhood watch program.

*Chairman Fore reported that the board had met with representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) earlier that afternoon on the County's six-year plan.

*Supervisors agreed to advertise to seek citizen volunteer applications for boards and commissions that have upcoming vacancies and/or expiring terms. Among those on the list: one position on the board of appeals for building code, social services board and Central Virginia Regional Library Board, and two positions on the Poplar Hill Community Development Authority and the Industrial Development Authority.

The board is expected to consider appointments at their June meeting.

*The board recommended the reappointment of Economic Development Director Sharon Carney to the South Central Workforce Investment Board to the chief local elected officials board.

*It was noted that an illustrated history of High Bridge (1853-1914) will be located in the Heartland Regional Visitor Center, located on East Third Street in Farmville.

*Supervisors opted to continue with Key Advantage Expanded and Key Advantage 250 plans for County workers. It was noted the County will have a 5.7 percent increase in rates.

Bartlett noted that they are still in the process of looking at self-insurance, but that they have to make the selection now. If they move to self-insurance, they have to give a 90-day notice.

Supervisor Gantt pitched for increasing the deductible, with the County chipping in the difference, but the board on a 7-1 vote agreed to retain the health insurance.