The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in Workshop Meeting on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Meeting room located in the Wise County Courthouse. The following members were present:
Honorable J. H. Rivers – Chairman
Honorable Virginia Meador
Honorable Robert R. Adkins
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Robert E. Robbins, Jr.
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Fred Luntsford – members of said Board and
David L. Cox – County Financial Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
Honorable Dana Kilgore – Vice-Chair
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
Roger Barker, Pastor Lighthouse Family Worship Center, Wise, led in prayer.
All led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Financial Administrator David Cox noted that the Board has authorized him to negotiate with BB&T on the Lease Purchase financing. He asked that this item be placed on the agenda for next week for the Board to authorize him to execute that agreement.
Chairman Rivers asked that item to be added to the agenda for consideration by the Board at its next meeting.
ROAD & HIGHWAYS
Jackie Christian, (Title) introduced Allan Sumpter the new Residency Maintenance Manager to the Board. Mr. Sumpter explained the changes that have been made to VDOT during its recent restructuring process. Duties have been distributed and the focus for the Wise Office is maintenance and operations. He provided a history of his years of service with VDOT in different places across the state.
Chairman Rivers provided the following request:
On Rt. 610—turn to Powell Valley Middle and Primary Schools – consider installing a guardrail in that area. The person asked if a guardrail is denied could he install a metal railing himself.
Jennifer Sproles, representing the Appalachian Community Action & Development Agency, Inc., provided the Board with an update and accomplishments of their organization. Various services are provided to the residents of the LENOWISCO Planning District such as weatherization assistance, home repairs, financial assistance for septic system or wells and financial assistance for counseling.
New initiatives in Wise County include the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs in Wise County after the Wise Skill Center was closed. Employment related services are available for youth, adults and dislocated workers. Ms. Sproles stated that they are accepting new applications for entry into their program.
Ted Tate, a resident of the East Stone Gap area, said that he was for keeping the six schools open. However, if there was a need for consolidation, he suggested building a new school in Wise and one in Big Stone Gap. His main concern was the safety of the children on the slick roads in the winter, the fog on the mountain and the distance of traveling to and from school especially for the smaller children.
Millie Tate, a resident of Big Stone Gap, was concerned for the safety of the children and the coal truck traffic in the Appalachia area. She suggested building a school in Big Stone Gap for Appalachia and Big Stone Gap.
Harold Greear, a resident of the Pound area, voiced his opposition to the proposed 2-on-1 site plan. He spoke on the closing of the Skill Center and the benefit it was to students. He also spoke on school enrollment, the three proposed school sites, the revenue produced by each town, and the proposed tax reduction that has been noted.
Glen Sturgill, a resident of Flat Gap, was concerned with the safety of the children driving the Wise Mountain to school and the early morning hour that the small children will be catching the bus. He noted the many after school activities that the children are involved in and the lack of facilities for the athletic programs.
Anita Hayes, a resident of the Pound area, was concerned with the safety of the children especially with all the after school activities. Transportation was another problem that has not been fully addressed. She opposed consolidation.
Carol Bloomer, a resident of Big Stone Gap, was concerned with transportation on the mountain during the winter, the fog and the icy roads.
Elizabeth Jones, a resident of Big Stone Gap, was concerned with the length of time the children would be on the bus to and from school and the economic growth of the communities in these towns.
John Schoolcraft, a resident of Big Stone Gap, asked the Board to re-consider the 2-on-1 site plan. He questioned whether or not an impact study had been done, transportation analysis, and if $69M would be sufficient to complete both schools. He said if keeping the six schools open is not feasible, then look at other options for consolidation.
Connar McCoy, a resident of Pound, voiced his opposition to the 2-on-1 site plan and consolidation period.
Kerry Wells, a resident of Big Stone Gap, stated that there was no point in purchasing property when the County owned property that the schools could be built on. He was concerned with the transportation costs draining the finances and the amount of tax increase for tax payers.
Walter Crouse, a resident of Hurricane, opposed the 2-on-1 site plan but supported going regional. He said losing a school will destroy a town and its economic growth not to mention the senior citizens that are unable to afford a tax increase. Safety in transportation is also an issue with the 2-on-1 site plan.
Nita Wilson, a resident of Big Stone Gap, voiced her opposition on consolidation. She mentioned safety issues and problems associated with large schools. She supports six schools.
There being no further comments, the public expression period was closed at 7:25 p.m.
IN RE: HIGH KNOB TOWER UPDATE
Rita McReynolds, addressed the Board on behalf of the High Knob Task Force Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors and the citizens of Wise and Scott County who are in favor of building the High Knob Tower. This tower will be accessible to everyone and much more enjoyable. At this point in time, they are $29,000 away from the initial goal of $580,000. She mentioned those that have been financially supportive to this endeavor, which include government grants, state assistance, and both sides of the political parties. There is an ongoing effort to construct a better tower, a landmark that will make this area proud and will be a destination for tourism in Wise County. She asked for further funding from the Board to complete this project.
Supervisor Robbins commended Ms. McReynolds for all the work she has done to keep this effort ongoing. He asked the Board to consider at its next meeting an additional donation of $3,000 toward the tower project.
IN RE: ROUND THE MOUNTAIN UPDATE
Diana Blackburn, Director of Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network, provided a power point presentation on the activities of Round the Mountain.
Round the Mountain was created in 2004 along with the Crooked Road to promote economic development of Southwest Virginia by focusing on the crafts and natural assets of the region. Their mission is to promote substantial economic development of the region’s communities by assisting local artisans’ with marketing, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. There are 42 members from Wise County that are part of Round the Mountain.
The goals of Round the Mountain are to accomplish the following:
Identify and meet the needs of their membership
Promote members through a dynamic, interactive website and interactive maps
Continue the development of their Regional Artisan Trail Network that will link the visitor to artisan studios, galleries, farms, craft venues and creative points of interest in Southwest Virginia
Create a strong relationship with the Artisan Center of Southwest Virginia which will be located in Abingdon
The Southwest Virginia Artisan Center will showcase the craft of Southwest Virginia and will serve as a gateway to the 19 counties and 4 cities that make up the “Round the Mountain” region.
A six minute video was shown on the cultural heritage and natural resources of Southwest Virginia.
Ms. Blackburn stated that in the upcoming funding cycle their request for assistance will be different. With the calculative work they are doing with Heartwood, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission, the Crooked Road, and Round the Mountain, will now be coming into all the localities as a united front. She noted that her request in the past has been $3,000.
There were comments from Board members regarding this request. Financial Administrator Cox was asked to ascertain whether or not there was any money available to assist Round the Mountain in their efforts to promote tourism in our region.
A break was taken at 7:50 p.m.
The meeting reconvened at 8:05 p.m.
OTHER ITEMS REVIEWED
The following item was reviewed:
IN RE: DISPATCH SUPPLEMENT
Attorney Mullins explained that a request came before the Board in June of 2008 regarding seniority/merit supplement for the E-911 dispatchers. At that time, the Board approved a request from the Sheriff’s Office to support the Law Enforcement Retirement System (LEOS) in the FY 08/09 budget. It was discussed that LEOS would not cover the E-911 dispatchers and that while legislation to promote and recognize dispatchers as public Safety Officers was in the discussion stage it would be several years to determine its progress.
A proposal to supplement the dispatchers by seniority/merit was presented and approved at the time the FY 09/10 budget was approved. That proposal was to supplement at 5, 10, 15, and 20 years at the levels of $1,000, $2,000, $4,000 and $5,000. The amount was funded in the FY 80/09 budget from a reallocation of the legal services and the Sheriff’s budgets, as the budget had already been advertised and was scheduled for adoption. It was included in the FY 09/10 budget from general fund revenues. A review of the Board minutes and video does not indicate that a separate motion was made for this supplement or that the supplement was to be continued. To satisfy audit requirements and allow the proper accounting, this should be clarified by a motion.
There were brief comments from Board members regarding qualifications and training for dispatchers.
IN RE: CONSOLIDATION PLAN (2–on-1) – RESCIND PREVIOUS MOTION
Chairman Rivers noted that since this has been announced in advanced, there will be a motion to rescind the previous motion on the 2-on-1 consolidation plan and will not require a 2/3 rule vote (simple majority).
IN RE: DEBT MANAGEMENT POLICY
Chairman Rivers stated that he has a copy of the debt management policy that was adopted on December 6, 2007 which consists of five pages. He asked if that policy is still in effect.
Financial Administrator Cox stated that he has the Debt Management Policy that went into affect in 2009. The original policy was adopted in 2002 by resolution and changed in 2009.
Chairman Rivers questioned the detailed information in his version of five pages and the existing version of one page.
There was some discussion whether or not the Debt Management Policy could be changed without a public hearing.
Attorney Mullins explained that the Debt Management Policy does not require a public hearing. This policy is not a budget type item which is at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. There is not a requirement that the County has a Debt Management Policy.
Financial Administrator Cox noted that Wise County is one of the few surrounding counties that have such a policy which he recommends.
Attorney Mullins explained that during the previous times when school consolidation was being discussed, and if approved, would have required a Debt Management Policy change.
Regarding the question of whether or not to have Davenport make a presentation before the Board, Chairman Rivers recommended waiting until a decision has been made by the School Board on a specific consolidation plan.
IN RE: APPALACHIA JUVENILE COMMISSION SERVICE AGREEMENT
This Service Agreement is made by and among the Appalachian Juvenile Commission and the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and the cities of Bristol and Norton each of which is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia (individually, a Member Jurisdiction).
The Commission previously has been created by the governing bodies of the Member Jurisdictions, to enhance public safety within the region by equipping, maintaining and operating a regional juvenile detention center.
In order to pay the cost of operations for the Center, programs and services, the Member Jurisdictions have agreed to pay certain amounts on terms set forth in the agreement. The payment for each jurisdiction is based on the enrollment of juveniles from that jurisdiction.
The agreement before the Board is in a different format of the previous agreement, which spells out the specifics, and each jurisdiction is being asked to place this on their agenda for approval.
Financial Administrator Cox noted that the County received a refund check at the end of June for approximately $32,000 for beds not used.
IN RE: RURAL ADDITION – FEATHER ROAD
Attorney Mullins explained that a request had been received from Danny Sloan, a property owner along Feather’s Road, to take that road into the VDOT system. A petition is being circulated for signatures from property owners along that road. VDOT has been asked for an estimate on the cost for upgrading that road to make it eligible to be taken into the system. No money is available at this time. After all VDOT requirements are met and money becomes available, the Board will need to consider adopting a resolution of support to proceed with this project.
Attorney Mullins asked that this item be placed back on the agenda as soon as all requirements have been met and money becomes available.
OTHER ITEMS REVIEWED
Budget amendment #14
COUNTY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
Attorney Mullins stated that she had spoken with Major Vanover this afternoon regarding a meeting held yesterday with Norton, Lee County, Wise County and Dickenson County regarding shared equipment necessary to back up each others 911. There is an agreement with VITA that is forth coming which states that they have provided support in an excess of $1,000,000 to this four jurisdiction area for a shared connective system, which means they would have a backup system with each other. The MOU between the jurisdictions will be approved possibly some time this week, and there may be a request that the Board act quickly to address this MOU at its 15th meeting. A funding request will also accompany this MOU.
Financial Administrator Cox explained that in the first year VITA is supplying maintenance. The second year of this agreement, based upon the pending MOU, his estimate cost for Wise County would be approximately $41,606.00.
Attorney Mullins explained the time frame for ordering the equipment.
There were some comments regarding requests from organizations for financial assistance throughout the year. Chairman Rivers asked that the Board get copies of all funding requests throughout the year to be placed in the information only section of their packets.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk J. H. Rivers, Chairman