Heartland works to organize

Published 6:40 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

During a busy 45-minute meeting Thursday, members of the Virginia’s Heartland Regional Industrial Facility Authority Board cast a series of votes in organizing its operations and confirming policies and dates.

The board took numerous unanimous actions including establishing a fiscal year, designating the authority’s principal office, appointing a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer, adopting a FOIA policy, adopting a small purchase policy, naming a procurement officer, setting 2017 meeting dates, terms of office and appointing officers of the authority.

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The board — criticized for being disorganized during September’s Charlotte County Board of Supervisors’ meeting — is also considering adopting new bylaws.

The board adopted meeting dates for next year “to try to be a little more formal in our organization,” said Board Chairman and Charlotte County Supervisor Gary Walker.

Charlotte, along with Buckingham, Amelia, Cumberland, Prince Edward and Lunenburg counties, comprise the authority, which was established in late 2000 in order to set up the approximately 773-acre Virginia’s Heartland Industrial Park.

During the September board meeting in Charlotte, public speakers criticized Charlotte County Administrator R.B. Clark’s and Walker’s work on the authority’s board. Citizens complained about authority board minutes being in “disarray,” claimed there were “missing” bylaws and evidence of Heartland’s affairs being “handled in a negligent manner.”

Citizens at the Charlotte meeting asked why the authority hadn’t produced reports on activities, accomplishments, tenants and sales.

“To get us a nice fresh start here, it would be good if you would take action, electing chair and the term of office is suggested through the end of this year and then spin into four-year terms,” Authority Attorney Russell O. Slayton said Thursday before the board took action on naming Walker as chairman; Amelia County Administrator A. Taylor Harvie III, vice chairman; Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee, secretary; and Charlotte County Finance Director Norma Tuck as treasurer and procurement officer.

The terms, according to Slayton, will run only through December; an organizational meeting will be held in January.

“We wanted to get something in place as soon as possible,” Slayton said of the tabled bylaws.

The authority agreed to meet during the fourth Thursday of each month during each quarter.

The next meeting of the board will be held Jan. 26 at 3 p.m.

Slayton said FOIA requests led to the agenda item setting the authority’s principal office in the Charlotte County administrator’s office.

“All this is, basically, bookkeeping — no changes — just a review because questions have been asked,” Slayton said in setting the start and end dates of the authority’s fiscal year.

As of Oct. 19, the authority had $217,290 in its checking account, according to board documents.

During the meeting, the authority agreed to a lease for Salem-based B2X Online Inc. According to its website, the mission of the firm is to be “the main access point of high-speed networking and internet solutions in the Roanoke area and to target the last mile of access.”

According to Clark, the firm will lease part of the only office building at the park, which also houses the Virginia Growth Alliance.