Board of Supervisors - June 4, 2009 Workshop Meeting

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The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Workshop meeting on Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room located in the Wise County courthouse.  The following were present:

Honorable Robert E. Robbins, Jr. – Chairman
Honorable J. H. Rivers – Vice-Chairman
Honorable Robert E. Adkins
Honorable Virginia Meador
Honorable Dana Kilgore
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Fred Luntsford – members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – Finance Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary

PRAYER

T. G. Branson led in prayer

PLEDGE

All led in the pledge of allegiance to the flag.

IN RE:  AGENDA ADDITIONS

Chairman Robbins noted the following two items to be added to the agenda:

Under New Business Add:

  • Closed Session (Personnel)
  • Recess June 11 meeting until Thursday, June 25, 2009 @ 5:00 p.m.

IN RE:  CUMBERLAND RESOURCES / VIRGINIA MINING ISSUES GROUP

Phil Mullins, Director of Permitting & Environmental Affairs, provided a power point presentation on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) which represents the total quantity of a pollutant (load) that a water body can assimilate and still meet minimum standards.  He spoke on behalf of Cumberland Resources, the Virginia Mining Issues Group, and the Lee County Board of Supervisors in their efforts to meet the requirements to bring the Callahan Creek into compliance.

Section 303(d) of the l972 Clean Water Act requires the States to identify “Impaired Waters” and to develop plans to restore these waters to meet minimum standards.

These restoration plans are called “Total Maximum Daily Loads” or TMDL’s/  The TMDL represents the total quantity of a pollutant (Load) that a water body can assimilate and still meet minimum standards.

Virginia DEQ has compiled a list of impaired streams for the state and set up a schedule to initiate the TMDL process for each stream.

The Virginia Coalfields TMDL streams include: Black Creek, Guest River, Dumps Creek, Straight Creek, Callahan Creek and Russell Prater (approved and being implemented) Knox Creek, Pawpaw, Bull Creek, Levisa, Pound River and Powell River pending.

In February, 2005 DEQ released its Draft TMDL Report for Callahan Creek.  The final version was approved in August 2006.

Coal mining has been conducted in the Callahan Creek watershed since 1905.  There are currently several large mining operations employing hundreds of workers in the Callahan Creek watershed.

Possum Trot Hollow Gob Pile Remediation Project was reviewed and discussed.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is comprised of tiny (Less than 0.5 microns), invisible particles dissolved in the water.  The predominant ions in solution are harmless at normal concentrations found in Callahan Creek.  These ions are leached from the minerals in the rocks by infiltration of runoff into the subsurface.  This is a natural process which can be accelerated by mining operations.

The TDS Report from DEQ was reviewed.

As part of the “cooperative solution” worked out with DEQ prior to final TMDL approval in August, 2006, DEQ and SWCB agreed to delay initial implementation of the TDS portion of the TMDL until more TDS data could be gathered in the watershed.  The monitoring period has been in place for two years and is expected to last approximately two more years.  At the end of this monitoring period, DEQ will re-open the TMDL process for the purpose of setting appropriate TDS limits for Callahan Creek.

The potential TMDL restrictions are not limited to mining.  They apply to all land uses, including: industrial facilities, commercial development, timbering, oil and gas development, agriculture and even residential development.

If Callahan Creek is not restored to at least the minimum required designated use of aquatic life support, restrictions on any development within the watershed which could increase the pollution load to the stream may result.

All approved TMDL’s require an Implementation Plan (IP).  This plan provides the framework for setting restrictions and developing projects in the watershed which will help attain the aquatic restoration goals of the TMDL.

If properly developed, the IP can achieve meaningful environmental improvement without adverse impact on the local economy.  However, if the TMDL is implemented improperly, unnecessary restrictions and adverse economic consequences may result.

The IP Committee is developed by a committee of watershed stakeholders comprised of federal and state regulatory agencies, industry, watershed residents and local governments.

The key points to remember are as follows:

  • TMDL’s are a regulatory means to reducing pollution loads in impaired streams.  The IP sets the state for how load reductions will be achieved.
  • The primary stressors identified by the TMDL reports for Wise County impaired streams are fecal coliform, sediment and dissolved solids.
  • The reports consistently neglect the role of stream alteration, proximity to developed areas and lack of habitat which make achievement of TMDL goals difficult.
  • TMDL’s apply to all land uses (not just mining) in an impaired watershed (Note: The TMDL for Powell River is currently being developed).
  • It’s all about bugs!  Unless the benthic scores improve, increasing restrictions will be implemented until goals are met.

Given the important nature of these issues, Mr. Mullins asked that a member of the Board be appointed to serve on the Callahan Creek IP Committee to represent the interest of Wise County.

Supervisor Shortt recommended that Fred Luntsford represent the Board on this committee since he is actively involved in other projects in that area.

Upon Supervisor Luntsford’s willingness to serve as the County’s representative, Chairman Robbins appointed him to the committee.

Board members expressed their appreciation for the presentation which has made the Board more aware, as well as Wise County citizens, the condition of our streams and the need for countywide sewer to be expedited.

Mr. Mullins noted that the key to development is infrastructure.

Administrator Scott asked that this same presentation be made to the Planning Commission.

IN RE:  COURTHOUSE INTERIOR NEEDS ASSESSMENT

Bill Thompson, representing Thompson & Litton, stated that in November of 2008, the Board of Supervisors entered into an agreement with Thompson & Litton to provide a Needs Assessment of the Wise County courthouse.  The primary purpose of the Needs Assessment is to study the current and projected space needs of the various User Groups of the building, including courts and court support services, constitutional officers and their support staff, county administration and other county services, and building staff.  Some User Groups now residing in rental space off the courthouse property were also included in the study, including Court Support Services, Investigator’s Offices, and some off-site storage tied directly to courthouse User Groups.

The full study includes the following elements:

  • Record drawings of the courthouse complex
  • Space needs assessment at which time all department heads, staff, constitutional officers, courts and its staff were spoken with to determine the projected needs.  This also included those offices that are located off the courthouse grounds.  The existing floor space is 87,500 sq. ft.
  • Physical needs assessment dealt more with the general condition of the courthouse itself with particular attention being made to its historic nature
  • Conceptual plans on how the needs would correspond with the space available

Mark Swecker, Project Architect for Thompson & Litton, provided a power point presentation on the  floor plans for the existing courthouse and the space it offers and floor plans for an expansion of the courthouse onto the property now housing the old jail facility.

Regarding the Security Assessment, over the years, renovations, improvements and additions have been accomplished to adapt to the dynamics of change and growth to the courthouse.  Security and safety has now introduced another variable into the equation of a successful facility solution.

Many of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design concepts can be adopted to the existing courthouse and planned improvements.  Planning the security elements in terms of the existing building and site, are passive, some are active, mainly non-invasive and easily sustained.

A Security Assessment is the first step in effective building security and occupant safety planning and implementation.  To that end, the process has begun through three previous reports that addressed physical and operational security and safety parameters of the courthouse.  The reports included:

  • Recommendations and Costs for New Security at the courthouse—October 1, 2001
  • Security Assessment of the Courthouse – September 13, 2006
  • Courthouse Security Observations – October 14, 2008

The above referenced reports provide valuable insight into the current physical plant security and operational deficiencies.

Drawings of security plans for the courthouse were reviewed and discussed.

These plans include secure parking for the judges in the existing courthouse garage.

There would no longer be an entrance to the courthouse from front street but only one entrance in the back for better security.  Security checks would be made on all that entered the courthouse.

If the new wing to the left of the existing courthouse is chosen, the square footage would be between 54,000 to 70,000 sq. ft. for a cost of approximately of $10 to $17m (guesstamation cost)

There was some discussion on the immediate need to address the major parking problem for the courthouse, the need for a new 911 Center, and two additional court rooms.

Administrator Scott stressed time frame on finding a place for the 911 Center.

IN RE:  COYOTE CONTROL

Johnny Wills, District Wildlife Biologist, addressed the Board regarding Coyote control.  Mr. Wills was up front with the Board in that it is difficult to control coyotes.  He offered several scenarios that have been tried in other states with little or no success in thinning the coyote population.  They are very clever animals and learn quickly how to outsmart methods being used to trap or kill them.  Regarding the proposed bounty, Mr. Will’s said that was an option but other methods have brought more success.  He noted that the Inland Game and Fisheries Department can give some advice on dealing with this problem. 

There was some discussion on hiring professional trappers to use their expertise in handling this problem but there was no guarantee that this would be successful, only expensive.

Since there is little information out there on this subject, it was recommended that the County Administrator’s Office work with Mr. Wills in making the public more aware of the potential danger involved in dealing with coyotes.

Attorney Mullins asked the Board to postpone any action on the Coyote Control Ordinance for sixty to ninety days to allow her more time to gather further information that would give the Board more insight on the best way to handle this problem.

IN RE:  PUBLIC HEARING IDA REZONING REQUEST

A public hearing was duly advertised for this date to receive citizens’ comments regarding a request from the Wise County IDA to rezone 23,489 acres adjacent to the LP Airport & the LP Regional Business & Technology Park.

There being no one to speak, the public hearing was closed,

IN RE:  PUBLIC HEARING -  REZONING – MAGGARD LEASING

A public hearing was duly advertised for this date to receive citizens’ comments regarding a request from Maggard Leasing to rezone 24 acre tract of land located at the intersection of US 23 & South Fork Road, Pound.

There being no one to speak, the public hearing was closed.

IN RE:  ETHANOL PLANT

Ted Cox, representing Reclaimed Resources (RRI), addressed the Board on converting municipal solid waste (MSW) to fuel. 

RRI is staffed at both the board and management levels.  Selection of specialized industry-leading engineering firms has been completed.  Each has been assigned specific site evaluation tasks.  Several potential project sites have been identified as acceptable and on-going engineering evaluation for two prime sites, including core drilling that are continuing.

Reclaimed Resources is organized to process MSW collected by others into reusable materials.  Aluminum, ferrous metals, glass, plastics, and other recyclable materials will be sorted by conventional technology, and will be sold through normal recycling industry channels.  Paper and other cellulosic materials will be processed through a patented Gravity Pressure Vessell (GPV), marketed by GeneSyst International, Inc.  The GPV converts cellulosic materials to glucose, which is then fermented to a weal mash.  This solution is distilled and water separated by micro-filtration to produce a 98%+ ethanol solution.  This ethanol will be sold to motor fuel blenders and other users as market forces dictate.  In addition to ethanol, this process can produce yeast (sold as an animal feed supplement), furfural (industrial solvent), carbon dioxide and other chemicals, and sold as market conditions warrant.

The potential returns on this venture are considerable.  The economics are impressive and compare very favorably with other alternative energy resources.  The social, political and economic support for alternative (green) energy sources is strong and growing.

The growth of the solid waste stream is forecast to grow at only 0.5% annually.  This allows for a mix of both population growth and decline in the plant’s service area.  Tipping fees at the plant are forecast to grow at 2% over a 10 year period.  Landfill tipping fees – and ultimately available landfill volume – in the plant service area could allow a stronger revenue stream from tipping fees.  Increased environmental awareness and regulation of landfills and municipal wastewater sludge could also strengthen the financial performance.

There are variables associated with the ethanol market as well, including federal government subsidies for ethanol production in general and non-food based ethanol production in particular.  A modest annual increase of 2% in ethanol sales is forecast for each year, as well as in recyclable sales.

The overall process makes beneficial use of up to 95% of the total volume of municipal solid waste normally deposited in a landfill.  The process meets and exceeds all public mandates to recycle.  The conversion process does not involve incineration and has limited air emissions.  These emissions are limited to air filters from the processing buildings’ areas.  The separation, fermentation and distillation processes are well known and widely used.  The plant for Reclaimed Resources, Inc. is proposed to be a 500 ton-per-day of MSW (feedstock) from a 100 mile collection radius of the plant.  Other feedstock sources incidental to the market will be accepted and processed at fees competitive to current disposal practices.

The quality of ethanol produced from different sources of biomass ranges from 35 gallons of ethanol per ton, to over 65 gallons per ton from raw materials rich in fiber such as wood or low lignin pulp such as sugar beets residues.  The facility at 500 tons-per-day has the potential to produce about 10 million gallons of ethanol per year from municipal wastes and other biomass materials.  The plant can be expanded incrementally to 1500 tons per day.

Mr. Cox provided information on the following:

  • Background of the Technology
  • Basis of the Technology
  • Manufacturing Process
  • Site Plan Description and Renditions
  • Procedures, Planning & Protocol
  • Risk Factors

RRI plans to build and operate these plants over the long term.  However, partners may sell their ownership interests to others in accordance with the partnership agreements.  It is also conceivable that the partners at some future time may sell stock to the public.  The business plan will be adapted to whatever organizational structure major investors decide.

The Board was asked to review the RRI Business Plan as provided by Mr. Cox for further information.

IN RE:  COURTHOUSE EXTERIOR RENOVATIONS

Mike Ball, contractor for the exterior renovations, provided the Board with an update on the exterior renovations of the courthouse stating that the project is fifteen to twenty days ahead of schedule.

IN RE:  ROADS AND HIGHWAYS

Residency Administrator T. G. Branson had no remarks for the Board.  He noted the resolution on “Watch For Children” signs that was up for approval by the Board.  The road has been checked and does qualify for the noted signs.

Board members voiced their appreciation to Mr. Branson for work that has been done in their districts.

IN RE:  CONSENT AGENDA

The following items were noted for Board consideration:

  • Treasurer’s request to close bank account
  • Transfer of Funds
  • Resolution PPTRA Budget
  • Interlocal Contract for Cooperative Purchasing
  • Agreement for the Purchase of Electricity from Appalachian Power Company
  • Set public hearing - July 2, 2009 @ 6:00 p.m. on a proposed E-911 Road Name
  • Budget Amendments #48 thru #62

IN RE:  OTHER ITEMS NOTED

  • Resolution approving Wise County public schools FY 2009-10 budget
  • Resolution approving Wise County budget for FY 2009-10
  • Appoint Committee for Agricultural Center
  • Appointments
  • Closed session –
    • Section – 2.2-3711(A)(6) Investing of public funds
    •               2.2-3711(A)(7) Legal matters
    •               2.2-3711(A)(1) Personnel
  • Reports

Finance Administrator David Cox reported that the severance revenue through today’s date is $1.6m over the budget.  This amount is to be used for courthouse renovations.  He further explained that the large number of budget amendments is due to year end clean up of accounts and re-classing some negative items.

  • Recess the June 14 meeting until Wednesday, June 24, 2009 @ 5:00 p.m.
  • Board comments

ADJOURN

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

ATTEST:                                                         WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

 

_____________________________                 ________________________________________
 Shannon C. Scott, Clerk                               Robert E. Robbins, Jr., Chairman

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