Board says its goodbyes
At their Dec. 10 final meeting of 2019, the outgoing members of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors took the opportunity during the board comments portion of the meeting to give their farewell to the county, looking back on their individual experiences in the county seats and giving advice to the entirely new board set to begin governing in January.
“I’d like to thank the citizens of Cumberland County, especially the citizens in the 1st District,” said District One Supervisor William “Bill” Osl. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to serve them, and they reelected me four times and I appreciate their support, their confidence. You know, a lot of people will say, ‘It’s kind of a thankless job, isn’t it?’ I say, ‘Well, there are times when it’s difficult, but I always appreciate the support that I had from the people in the 1st District, and I can say that honestly. I appreciate when we can disagree and we can sit down and we can have a meaningful conversation about something, and we can agree to disagree. But I have to appreciate everybody in the 1st District and around the county as well.”
During his speech to the attendees of the board meeting, Osl thanked county staff as well as Cumberland County Public Schools (CuCPS) Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin for her help to the board and the county. He also thanked CuCPS teachers and staff.
Osl recalled to the crowd some of the most notable changes that he had seen to the county during his time spent on the board. “I especially enjoyed the years before the recession hit. We focused on improving cash flow to the county, brought a reservoir in. The new board will still get $1.1 million a year from that reservoir for the next 45 years or so … During my tenure we built new schools … We have a water system and a courthouse complex now. We have an industrial park which was down in Farmville. Now we have one in the central part of the county that we in Cumberland County can benefit primarily from.”
“We provided updates to our comprehensive plan, our planning and zoning ordinances, so that business would be a little easier for people,” said Osl. “… We expanded cellular. Can you believe that? … We have brought broadband fiber backbone into the courthouse. We’ve got to get people to tie into that backbone and provide the service to the community, but the backbone is there. All those with no tax increase during this period of time.”
“During and after the recession, we focused on, again, how do we improve cash flow to the county?” he continued. “And we went after a landfill. It’s a significant item. It’s a controversial item. I certainly understand and appreciate people’s issues with it, but it’s an item that could generate $3-5 million a year in cash flow to Cumberland County … We worked at reducing county staff and improving the efficiency of local government, and I believe that if you do an analysis comparing us to other counties in the area, you’ll find that we have very efficient county staff operations.”
Osl thanked the previous board members that had served before him, noting that while there may have been disagreements amongst supervisors, their efforts and service to the community had not gone unnoticed. He then addressed the incoming board.
“To the new board, I wish you much success. I will continue to live here. We want you to be successful with what you’re doing, and I hope that you’re able to govern with grace and with wisdom. In 1790, George Washington wrote, ‘May the father of all mercy scatter light and not darkness upon our paths and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way, everlasting happiness.’ I wish that to you all, to the board. Thank you for the privilege of being able to represent and serve you, and merry Christmas.”
“I want to extend a warm greeting to the new board,” said District Three Supervisor Kevin Ingle. “I’ve all faith in you. We trust it all in your hands and I’m sure everything is going to be done properly and you all are going to knock it out of the ballpark.”
Ingle took a moment out of his speech to personally address Eurika Tyree, the incoming district three supervisor. “Ms. Tyree, I hand my torch to you without any question that you could take care of this and you’ve got it, no doubt.”
Ingle thanked Vivian Giles, who served previously as county administrator and county attorney. He expressed his confidence and appreciation for current County Administrator Don Unmussig as well as Griffin and CuCPS. Ingle ended his speech by stating that the outgoing board members could still be reached if needed for anything.
“I want to thank all the citizens of Cumberland County,” said Board Chairman and District Five Supervisor Parker Wheeler. “It has been a pleasure serving you. I have been serving with the planning commission and the board now for 24 years. I enjoyed it. I worked hard with my fellow board members. I think as a board we had our trials, we had our tribulations, but we did work together. We did improve the county.”
“We have a county now that is somewhat stable and certainly moving forward,” he continued. “We have businesses finally wanting to come into Cumberland County. We welcome them with open arms. I hope that the new board will welcome them with open arms and continue moving this county forward. The citizens deserve it. I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavors. You’ll get up here sometimes and you’ll say, “Why am I sitting up here?’ and other times you make a decision and say, ‘That’s why I’m sitting up here. Yeah. I think we just hit a home run there.’ So, you guys take the torch, run with it, keep this county going, make us all proud of you. And I thank everyone for coming tonight.”
District Two Supervisor Lloyd Banks Jr. could not attend the final meeting, but provided The Herald with a statement for the public.
“I would like to thank the citizens of district two for electing me to two terms,” said Banks. “It has been a pleasure serving in this capacity. I am very thankful for the many friendships I have developed while working with members of the local community during this time. I look forward to the success of the newly elected board. It is my sole request that the incoming board avoid raising taxes upon our citizens, as our taxes are already significantly higher than our neighbors in central Virginia. I wish the new leadership Godspeed.”
Applause echoed throughout the room as the final board meeting of 2019 came to a close. The five new board members consisting of Brian R. Stanley, Ronald R. “Ron” Tavernier, Tyree, C. Eugene “Gene” Brooks and Robert K. Saunders Jr. will take their seats in January.