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Retirement of Van Eps changes priorities

Supervisors gave Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley the greenlight Wednesday, Dec. 23, to advertise for a director of economic development and tourism after an announcement from Prince Edward County Tourism and Visitor Center Coordinator Magi Van Eps that she would retire early in 2021.

Introducing the subject of hiring priorities during the meeting, Stanley recalled how the county’s director of economic development, Kate Pickett, was leaving.

“We also have been notified by Ms. Magi Van Eps, unfortunately, that she’s going to be retiring and leaving us around the first week of February,” he said.

Stanley had previously made hiring a county finance director a higher priority than filling Pickett’s now-vacant position, but he expressed a changed perspective Wednesday.

“With Magi’s decision, I’d like to go back and have the board reconsider a director of economic development and tourism and grants,” he said. “This is a position you all have previously established, and you had somebody in that position a number of years ago. I think this will allow us to fill the economic development role quicker and also get somebody back into Magi’s spot and handle the duties of the (Virginia’s Heartland Regional) Visitor Center.”

He received support from supervisors to advertise the position of director of economic development and tourism.

“Obviously, it will take four to six weeks before we can fill the position anyway, but I’d like to have someone close to being ready to come on board when Magi leaves employment with the county,” he said.

He suggested a salary of $55,000 for the position, which Leigh District Supervisor and Board Chairman Jerry Townsend said he was fine with.

“I think if you got somewhere in that range, I think you could find somebody competent for both positions,” Stanley said.

– Additionally during the special called Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, the board voted to authorize applications for two county credit cards, replacing the county’s one current card.

Stanley said that currently, the county has use of only one credit card with a $10,000 limit through Bank of America.

“However, it is in the name of one of our county employees and tied to the personal credit of that individual employee,” he said. “So if the county were to miss a payment, that affects that individual’s personal credit rating.

“We have, through Benchmark (Bank), been talking about trying to get this clarified and straightened out. The current account is over 15 years old, and at the time it was issued, it was the only way for the county administrator’s office to get one.”

He said increasingly, especially with all the county’s CARES Act purchases, the county’s financial transactions and procurement is moving to e-commerce, especially for travel but also for general purposes.

He said the county treasurer has spoken with Benchmark Bank and Prince Edward can obtain credit cards through Benchmark, but it would require action of the board. Once the new credit cards are received, the current account would be canceled.

The board voted 8-0 to approve Stanley’s recommendation to authorize applications for a credit card in the name of the county administrator, with a credit limit of $20,000, and for a credit card in the name of the assistant county administrator, with a credit limit of $10,000.

“These are not personal cards,” Stanley said. “These are for general use in the office if anybody needs to use them. They are tied to an individual, and you can track the purchases separately.”

He said they can provide statements to the board on a monthly basis, and the board included that requirement in its approval.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Stanley highlighted progress in marketing the county’s data center site.

“We were able to complete our Heartland Innovative Technology Park brochure for the data center site,” he said. “I received that from Timmons (Group) yesterday. I want to thank not only Kate Pickett but Joe Hines at Timmons for their efforts, and it really helps to show the relationship of the site in relation to the state and the fiber network.”