The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Regular Meeting on Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the School Board Education Center located on 628 Lake Street in Wise. The following members were present:
Honorable Robert R. Adkins – Chairman
Honorable Virginia Meador –Vice-Chair
Honorable Dana Kilgore
Honorable Robert E. Robbins, Jr.
Honorable J. H. Rivers
Honorable Fred Luntsford
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Steve Bates – members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – Finance Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
Bob Adkins led in prayer.
All led in the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
A motion was made by Virginia Meador, seconded by Robby Robbins , to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
A motion was made by Robby Robbins, seconded by Steve Bates, to approve the agenda as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: PUBLIC HEARING – CONVEYANCE OF PROPERTY FOR FOOD BANK
A public hearing was duly advertised for this date to receive citizen’s comments regarding the conveyance of property from Wise County to the Wise County Food Bank, Inc.
There being no public comments, the public hearing was closed.
IN RE: IDA PROJECT ACTIVITY
Carl Snodgrass, IDA Director, addressed the Board noting that in 1992, the year he was hired as the IDA Director, the IDA had total assets of $785,000 consisting primarily of vacant land in Esserville and Big Stone Gap. The Esserville property consisted of 67 acres and was purchased with grant funding from the Governor Baliles Administration. Today, the IDA has assets of $43.8M consisting primarily of industrial properties and buildings located on several properties and campuses throughout the County.
Since 1992, the IDA has secured $31.237M in grant funding from various agency sources that has enabled acquisition of additional development property, site development, utility infrastructure installation, and construction of access roadways. The IDA has been involved in the development of 21 business or industrial projects resulting in a commercial assessed value of $126,922,600, and with a combined employment base of approximately 2,100 people. These statistics do not include the 2 prisons in the county, nor the investment for the Dominion Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, which alone essentially doubled the tax base for Wise County.
Regarding the Dominion Project, at a Richmond meeting with corporate officials and the company legal team in January 2005, the County learned that the project was potentially in jeopardy for Wise County, since the company had been unable to deal with local property owners to secure land options. It was resolved that they had done all they could do to locate in Wise County. Mr. Snodgrass noted that he had some relationships with the property owners in that area, and asked if the IDA could acquire the land options and then re-option to Dominion. After consideration by the legal team, Mr. Snodgrass received a check from Dominion to begin working to negotiate the land options. Weeks later, the negotiations were successful, and Dominion began construction in Wise County.
The IDA has been challenged to re-think existing assets and diversify development strategies. From this, the LP Regional Business & Technology Park was formed, and today consists of 5 businesses and a sixth is forthcoming.
There have recently been constructed two new businesses in the Technology Park: Frontier Secure and Mission Critical Tier III Data Storage Center. Todd McReynolds, Vice-President with Frontier Secure, and Rob Noll, a partner in the development of the Mission Critical Tier III Data Storage Center, were present to speak in regard to these two new businesses.
The first business is Frontier Secure. In 2009, Congressman Rick Boucher introduced Frontier to the VCEDA region of Southwest Virginia as a potential location for an expansion project. None of the VCEDA counties were able to attract the company to this region. Shortly after, Todd McReynolds contacted Mr. Snodgrass noting that Frontier Secure was seeking a location for a 500-seat facility with potential growth opportunities. There were discussions, a proposal was provided and submitted to the company, followed by an on-site visit by company and Site Selection Officials. The proposal was accepted and funding to develop the project in the vacant space in the LP Technology Park was pursued. Funding for the upfit and equipment was provided to the IDA by a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and a loan from VCEDA.
Mr. Reynolds voiced his appreciation to the Board and IDA for their cooperation and assistance in making Frontier ‘s launch in Wise County successful. He noted that 62 out of 64 applicants that applied for employment have been hired. The first 12 managers were hired in May. These employees will receive training through MECC and UVA-Wise. Wise County has been labeled as Frontier’s most successful launch to date. The company has put $2.5M in payroll into the community, and that figure is expected to grow by the end of the year. Mr. Reynolds is working with the local colleges with a class tailored to college students interested in pursuing a job with Frontier. An expansion of their company is a possibility if the quality of employees continues. So far, the level of talent has been impressive.
About 8 years ago Southwest Virginia, and particularly Wise County, made the short-list for the potential location of a Data Center. Mr. Snodgrass was taken into confidence, while all the time under a non-disclosure of any aspect of the project, during the evaluation process of Wise County and other locations. Finally, in late Fall of 2015, the announcement was made that DP Facilities would establish the data center in the LP Regional Business & Technology Park in Wise County.
Rob Noll, a partner with D.P. Facilities Inc, stated that the construction of the data center is expected to reach substantial completion by the end of this month. He estimated 180 to 225 workers have been on site each day since construction started last October. The company is expected to hire between 30 and 40 individuals to staff the site once opened, and this is the projected phase one. Once this facility is filled, they are looking to build more to serve more customers. He noted that the Wise Site is one of the 22 sites that were visited before making the choice for Wise County. Wise County met all of the requirements for building a world class tier III data center. Mr. Noll noted that this center could become a catalyst for Wise County and the larger region in becoming the next secure corridor for technology in Virginia. Since data centers have proven to be a tool in stimulating economic growth, he expects other companies will be moving to the region because of the data center.
IN RE: LITTER CONTROL / BEARS
Seth Thompson, District Wildlife Biologist representing the Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries, addressed the Board regarding the bear problem that exists mostly at the Pound & Appalachia Convenience Center Sites. He explained that the County has made positive changes at these sites to control the bears. The electric fence and bear proof containers have been a tremendous help. However, the trash that is being deposited on the outside of the fence after hours is defeating the purpose for controlling the bears. With citizens continuing this practice for disposal of their garbage, it’s almost impossible to control the bears. Individuals need to be made aware of the danger in feeding the bears; they are not pets. Restoring the convenience center hours will be a plus, and use of cameras and extra patrolling of the sites will, hopefully, solve this problem.
Greg Cross, Litter Control Warden for Wise County, stated that he and his department have been working with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and Inland Game and Fisheries for a solution to controlling the ongoing problem with the bears. He explained several options that are to be implemented, which include placing cameras at the convenience center sites, and giving tickets for littering after hours. Several cases are forthcoming in court, which will hopefully send a message that dumping after hours will not be tolerated. He also mentioned that the Dunbar and Honey Branch sites are also in need of attention.
IN RE: SW VIRGINIA WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Stephen Mullins, Regional POWER Grant Coordinator, addressed the Board regarding assistance for laid-off coal industry workers thru SWVA Workforce Development Board’s POWER Grant. The POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce Economic Revitalization Dislocated Worker Grant) offers training opportunities for advancement, job placement with local companies, budgeting & financial assistance and work ready skills training.
The POWER Initiative is a national dislocated worker grant awarded to the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board-Area 1, targeted to assist dislocated coal industry workers, which includes miners, power plant workers, and other coal industry workers in the coal business supply chain.
The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing Centers of Excellence (SVAM) will offer competence testing and training opportunities for credentials in welding, machining, and industrial maintenance. These credentials can provide dislocated workers with a pathway to success in advanced manufacturing and other industries.
MECC is offering classes in welding, 3-D Design, and Information Technology, which can provide transferability opportunities for former coal industry workers into advance manufacturing and other industries.
Southwest Virginia Community College is offering various classes in advanced manufacturing, including welding, precision machining, and industrial maintenance. Also the adventure tourism and outdoor recreation classes at SWCC allow one to earn nationally-recognized credentials in tourism and outdoor recreation. Adventure Tourism provides entrepreneurial training designed to prepare graduates to establish a small business to support and provide tourism / recreational related products and services.
IN RE: KID’S CENTRAL – AT RISK CHILDREN
Darrell Edwards, representing Kid’s Central, provided a brief overview of children at risk that he has witnessed at Kids Central. Many kids are from broken homes or are being raised by grandparents. The downturn in the economy, and the loss of jobs to mention a few reasons why our children are struggling at this time.
IN RE: HEALTH DEPARTMENT – AT RISK CHILDREN
Dr. Sue Cantrell representing the Wise County Health Department, provided the Board with a power point presentation on a Blueprint for Health Improvement & Health-Enabled Prosperity. She explained the importance for women, when pregnant; to receive adequate prenatal care, avoid alcohol and/or tobacco use, and breastfeed if possible.
Children should be adequately immunized prior to attending school, which prepares them to fight infectious diseases.
To insure healthy minds, we must increase the number of certified or licensed professionals treating mental health and substance use disorders (SUD)
Need to increase access to diverse services for SUD treatment, and increase the number of people who receive specialty treatment for SUD in the region
Our children are at risk due to overweight or obese problems that hinder them in physical activities and social communications.
There is a need to decrease tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs including e-cigs in adolescents
Children are at risk due to unemployment across the region, and lack of access to needed accessories to increase learning
There needs to be created a model for collaboration across agencies and organizations to share data and resources of the purpose of health improvement
Need to increase access to certified specialty care providers
Walter Crouse, a resident of Hurricane, voiced his appreciation for changing the convenience center hours, which give those working, time to drop their garbage in the morning before work or after work. He further mentioned the following:
Citizens need to do more recycling to save the landfill
Don’t feed the bears
More man power to control littering
Stop refugees from entering our country. Language barrier. Send message to legislators.
Ilene Couch, representing a group from the Fairview Community Center, asked the Board for assistance in making repairs to the Fairview Community Center. The Center is constantly used for events throughout the year, and as a play ground for children. She provided a list of needed repairs stating that they are raising money to assist with other needs in keeping the Center open. She stated that the Recreational Authority has graciously assisted with funds to rebuild the picnic shelter that was destroyed during the big snow last year. Due to the age of the building, which is 103 years old, the community would like to make it a historical landmark.
Supervisor Robbins asked that an evaluation be made of the center to ascertain what needs to be done, and what can be done, to make the center safe and useable if that is feasible.
There being no further comments, the public expression period was closed.
IN RE: CONSENT AGENDA
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to approve the following consent agenda:
IN RE: FOOD BANK ADVERTISEMENT FOR PUBLIC HEARING
Ratified the advertisement for setting public hearing to convey property from Wise County to Wise County Food Bank as pass-thru owner
IN RE: FOOD BANK PROPERTY
Ratified the conveyance of property from the County to the Wise County Food Bank
IN RE: AGREEMENT WATCH FOR CHILDREN SIGN
Authorize execution of Agreement with VDOT for installation/maintenance of Watch For Children Sign
IN RE: APPROPRIATIONS – 2ND QUARTER
Approved the 2nd quarter appropriations as presented
IN RE: CONTRACT ---EISENHOWER SEWER PROJECT
Authorized execution of contract between Wise County & DHCD for Guest River / Eisenhower Sewer Project
The motion to approve the consent agenda was unanimously approved.
IN RE: BUDGET AMENDMENTS
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Robby Robbins to approve budget amendments #4 and #5 as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – RECREATIONAL AUTHORITY
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to re-appoint Angela Honeycutt to the Recreational Authority for a term of four (4) years. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: CLOSE SESSION
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Robby Robbins, to go into close session as permitted by the following Code Sections:
Section 2.2-3711(A)(6) Investing of public funds
(A)(7) Consultation with legal counsel
The motion was unanimously approved.
After close session, a motion was made by Robby Robbins, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to reconvene the regular meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION – CERTIFICATION FOR CLOSE MEETING
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to approve the resolution certifying that only public business matters lawfully exempted from open meeting requirements as were identified in the motion convening the close meeting were discussed or heard by the Board of Supervisors. The motion was unanimously approved by roll call vote.
RESOLUTION # 2016
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: CIRCUIT COURT POSITION
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to authorize Circuit Court Clerk Jack Kennedy to fill the vacant position of Andi Kilgore in his office. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION – DOMINION POWER PLANT “PLAN E”
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to adopt the resolution opposing the “Plan E” portion of 2016 Integrated Resource Plan and support Dominion Virginia Power’s other plans to remain more diversified in power generation. The motion was unanimously approved.
RESOLUTION # 2016
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER POSITION
A motion was made by Robby Robbins, seconded by Steve Bates, to authorize advertisement for a full time animal control officer for the County Animal Shelter to replace the vacant position of Animal Control Officer Brian Burton. The motion was unanimously approved.
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to adjourn the meeting at 10:20 PM. The motion was unanimously approved.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert R. Adkins, Chairman
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