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Small animal processing facility eyed for county

Halifax County Supervisors unanimously approved moving ahead with a planning grant to explore the feasibility of developing a small-scale animal  processing center in the county during their Monday night meeting.

The board agreed to submit an application request for a $12,500 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Grant with a county match of $6,250 in cash and a like amount of in-kind match.

The county ag development committee has been evaluating opportunities to enhance economic benefits of the agricultural sector in the county, and the committee’s top priority has been to explore development of a USDA inspected business that would permit local and regional beef, lamb, goat and swine producers to have animals processed and brought to a market locally and in the mid-Atlantic region.

“The benefits of such a facility include avoiding transportation costs and losses for local producers, more stable market prices for local producers, higher quality and healthier meats for local consumers and job creation among producers and at the processing facility,” according to County Administrator Jim Halasz.

“With the large and growing number of animal producers in Halifax County, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this developing market,” he said.

Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services staff has reviewed the work of the ag development committee and Ag Development Director Leah Brown and believes the proposed project is “an excellent match” for Halifax County and Southside Virginia under the grant purpose and guidelines, Halasz told supervisors.

“I think it would bring a huge marketing opportunity for producers in the county, and it would take out the middle man,” Brown told supervisors Monday.

Prior to making the motion to support proceeding with the feasibility study, ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis said he had “much rather get my beef from there knowing how it was grown and what it was fed. I’m about food safety, and this would be a big plus. I’ll buy local anytime over running the gauntlet at the grocery store,” he added.

In other county business, supervisors took the following actions:

w Submitted Charlie E. Smith’s request to lower the speed limit on Logan Road to Virginia Department of Transportation representative Kenneth Martin;

w Confirmed committee assignments for 2013 will remain the same as in the previous year;

w Were informed that a meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 14 or 15 between North Halifax Volunteer Fire Chief Ronnie Waller, members of the electoral board and Voter Registrar Judy Meeler to discuss moving the Republican Grove voting precinct;

w Added  the SCCA BF Goodrich Tires Super Tour East event on April 19-21 to the Virginia International Raceway annual events schedule;

w Re-appointed Joan Hines, the Rev. Kevin Chandler, Jewel Giles, Willie Blakey, Mary Dixon, Christine Acheson, Shirley Whitlow, Faye Powell, Bill McCaleb, Andrea McKinney, Mary Lou Meeler, Fannie Tuck, Carolyn Edmondson and Arlene Dailey to the Improvement Council;

w Re-appointed Clark Graves to the Halifax County Planning Commission;

w Recommended the judge reappoint Mike Sexton to the Board of Zoning Appeals;

w Reappointed Jason Parker, Bruce Pearce, Tabitha Burton and Frank Perkins Jr. to the Recreation Commission;

w Reappointed Gerald Lovelace to the Southside Planning District Commission; 

w Reappointed Sheriff Fred Clark to the Southside Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program; and

w Listened to citizen comments from three county residents.

Michael Terry of Scottsburg expressed his appreciation to supervisors for having a large animal rescue team available to assist in incidents as he experienced recently when his calf became trapped in an icy pond.

“It was a bad day, but I am so thankful we have this team set up in the community,” Terry said.

Halifax County Heritage Festival representative Bobby Conner urged supervisors to leave the fairgrounds where they are and not to spend any additional money on developing the fairgrounds except to maintain it.

“Maintain what you have and let’s move on,” Conner said.

Bernard Mitzler of Nathalie urged supervisors to look into the cost of building a new courthouse building as opposed to renovating the existing historical facility.

“That would be more cost-effective for the county,” he said.

At the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, supervisors went behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss specific personnel matters, the acquisition or disposition of property; the protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; consult with legal council and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.

 

Supervisors seek courthouse
renovation RFPs

Emerging from executive session, supervisors voted for the county administrator to proceed with securing request for proposals for architectural and engineering services for renovations of the Halifax County Courthouse.

During the board’s retreat last month, Emmett Lifsey and Mikel Griffin of CJMW Architecture presented a courthouse needs study, but no cost estimates pertaining to renovation of the historic structure were discussed in open session.

Demolishing the old jail located in the basement of the facility and the lower portion of the Halifax County General District Court clerk’s office, along with construction of a new circuit courtroom in the area of the former jail were detailed.

Also included in the plan is relocation of the public entrance to the facility, along with additional space for a lobby, public restrooms and toilets, according to the presentation.

A second move, according to Griffin, would be finding a new home for the majority of sheriff’s office functions.

Noting the cramped conditions currently existing in the sheriff’s office, Lifsey referenced a narrow, four-foot wide corridor used by detainees, staff and the general public with potential for interaction between them.

Separate entrances for courthouse staff, detainees and inmates and the general public also are incorporated in the plans.

A new courtroom would be very efficient with all the modern technology needed, Lifsey added, with the existing circuit courtroom becoming a space for secondary use.

Plans also call for the construction of an additional sally port at the rear of the courthouse facing Edmunds Boulevard.

Everything is pointed to increasing overall security, accessibility and circulation at the courthouse, Griffin said.

The courthouse facility currently contains from 37,000 to 38,000 square feet of space, excluding the abandoned jail, and the building housing the commonwealth attorney’s office contains 12,000 square feet, Griffin estimated.

Space needs for each department within the facility were identified, with staff from each department interviewed and consulted for purposes of the needs assessment study.

Griffin noted approximately 1,800 square feet of extra space across all departments in the courthouse would be adequate in terms of renovating the courthouse.

The study takes into account future growth as well, at least 20 years down the road, according to Lifsey.