All Supervisors were present for the entire four hour meeting, which started at 6:30 pm and ended at 10:30 pm. Some routine things were taken care of without controversy: the granting of a permit to Smyth County Ambulance Service to do convalescent transport in Washington Co.; approving a discounted tax rate increase for elderly and handicapped persons; approval of minutes with a correction by Mr. Hernandez, and approval for Highlands Community Services to borrow money to build a Children’s Campus (loans are already approved and facility will be located on land behind the Coomes center).
The public comment period mainly hosted speakers against the proposed Sugar Hollow quarry: Jackie Williams, Jenny Grant, and Toby Jordan. Ms. Williams reminded the Supervisors about the Westinghouse Road controversy at the Feb. 9th meeting and said traffic issues would be the same on Bordwine Road if the quarry goes through.
There were a number of presentations on which no action was taken. The first was a presentation by Gordon Jones about the audit of financial reports from fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. It was a clean audit, but he highlighted the reports now include a different way to state the liability for pensions as a result of a new accounting standard (GASB 68) that went into effect.
A second very lengthy presentation was made by Fred Parker and David Henry with a dose of humor. They outlined in detail (over an hour’s time), what revenue the BOS could expect from every tax, tag, or source, down to ones producing only a couple hundred dollars, saying estimates were conservative. Finally, there were presentations by two organizations, Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing, and the Center of Excellence. The first promotes manufacturing education, training, and promotion in the community, while the second establishes specific training sites and programs.
Finally, toward the end of the meeting, we got to action items on which Supervisors disagreed and votes were divided. The first was a proposed contract for a security service at the Washington Cty. Government Center Building and at the Courthouse for an active shooter alert system. This is a contract which the Sheriff’s department is funding with a grant for all the schools and is paying for out of his budget. It was a question of whether the Washington County buildings should be included. Four voted in favor with Ms. Mays moving acceptance and Mr. McCall seconding (Mays, McCall, Hernandez, and Pennington) and three voted against (Smith, Baker, and Copenhaver). Jeff Blevins presented a plan for Cardboard Recycling that has been undergoing testing and it was approved with divided vote.
The Board made appointments to the Mount Rogers Planning Commission. Mr. Pennington will be reappointed and Jason Berry will check with current members as to who is interested in continuing.
Ms. Mays reported that Mickey Tyler was not interested in continuing on the Board of Zoning Appeals. She nominated Dr. John Lentz to serve. McCall seconded the nomination, and five voted in favor with Baker and Smith voting no. Mr. Charlie Hargis is to finish Ms. Lambert’s term (decided at January BOS meeting). Ms. Donna Bailey was nominated to replace Mr Dando (Baker/Smith) and all approved after a discussion of the woman’s poor record of meeting attendance on a committee due to her father’s health.
When Supervisors made their reports, Mr. Hernandez reported on a meeting held with the Dollar Store developer, Jason Berry, and citizens that he felt was helpful in clarifying issues. Mays and Pennington reported on an inspection of the courthouse and plans for renovation being initiated.
Some general comments made by observers: Allison Mays is playing a more active role by offering motions and seconding them; Dr. Baker seems to have a large number of detailed questions; this meeting is somewhat pleasant; BOS members need to use their microphones; there was no bickering or tit for tat.