Highlighting studious supervisors

Published 10:54 am Thursday, November 29, 2018

It is a commendable thing for public servants to push themselves to become better at their job, especially when they are taking measures not even required of them.

We have witnessed this very thing occur recently with the efforts shown by Leigh District Supervisor Jerry R. Townsend. He received recognition for better equipping himself to represent his constituents and serve the county at large when he was one of six students honored as part of the 13th graduating class of the Virginia Certified County Supervisors’ Program (VCCSP).


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A Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) press release noted that the 18-month certification program is a partnership between the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech and VACo to provide training to enhance the leadership and decision-making skills of county supervisors in the commonwealth. Officials cited in the release that the program was created to provide VACo members with more in-depth knowledge about government and governing.

“I’m grateful to have completed the certification program,” Townsend said, “and certainly it has given me a stronger foundation in local governance, and it will assist me in my decision-making as well as make me better able to represent the constituents of Leigh District.” He is the fourth Prince Edward supervisor to graduate from the VCCSP, and three of those four supervisors currently sit on the board.

Townsend noted having long been interested in the VCCSP and said he was encouraged and inspired to enroll by Hampden District Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride and Farmville 801 District Supervisor and Board Chair Pattie Cooper-Jones, both of whom are graduates of the program.

Former Prince Edward Supervisor Don Gantt is also a graduate.

“Congratulations to our newest graduates on completing one of VACo’s premier educational programs,” VACo Executive Director Dean Lynch said in the release. “We now have more than 75 graduates from more than 40 counties since the program’s first class in 2006. I was proud to join the ranks of other graduates in 2016, and I can attest that this is a master’s degree-level program. I encourage more supervisors to participate in this unique educational program.”

Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett works closely with the board of supervisors, giving him a special insight into the benefits a supervisor can enjoy from having chosen to participate in the program.

“It’s very good for the newer supervisors because they get an understanding of various categories that we deal with, which planning (and) also budgeting are two of the biggest ones,” he said.

Bartlett summarized what participating in VCCSP says about a supervisor.

“By attending and completing the program, it shows a commitment on the part of those new supervisors to become familiar with the operations of government to be able to better represent their constituents,” he said. “And it provides a jump-start on the learning process. There are a lot of moving parts in being able to effectively govern a county, and that program provides them with familiarization of many aspects of the responsibilities that would otherwise take years to accomplish.”

We find Townsend’s thought process commendable.

“Are you best equipped to represent your constituents?” he said. “The program is only going to make you better. So I really encourage all supervisors to enroll …”

He noted that the most important thing made possible by the program was “the opportunity to network with … colleagues from other counties and to learn what they do and how they do conduct business. That was an integral part of the program, but also it gives you a better foundation in budgeting, community planning, leadership. So, it’s really a well-rounded program.”

Townsend expressed gratitude to Bartlett and all of his fellow supervisors for their support in connection to his VCCSP participation and then communicated a most honorable mindset.

“I just want to be able to do the best job I can in representing not only the Leigh District constituents but the citizens of the county, and this program only made me better,” he said.