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Fitzgerald Reelected Chairman Of Supervisors

ED-3 Supervisor William Fitzgerald was reelected chairman, and ED-2 Supervisor Tom West was elected vice-chairman Monday night as the Halifax County Board of Supervisors reorganized for the new year.

After the board voted unanimously to set a one-year term for the chairman and vice-chairman, ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman made a motion to reelect Fitzgerald as chair which was seconded by ED-8 Supervisor Bryant Claiborne and unanimously approved.

Bowman then nominated West to serve as vice-chairman which received a second from ED-7 Supervisor Lottie Nunn and was unanimously passed.
The ED-5 supervisor seat was vacant Monday night, with supervisors planning to interview applicants and select a replacement for the position at their Feb. 1 meeting.

Former ED-5 Supervisor James Edmunds II was elected the 60th District House Delegate in November and will head to Richmond next week for the upcoming legislative session.

Edmunds said Monday he plans to attend a two-day freshman delegate training course in Richmond on Thursday and Friday.

As part of their reorganizational meeting, supervisors confirmed County Administrator George Nester as clerk, Debbie Forlines as assistant clerk and Jeremy Carroll as county attorney.

Chairman Fitzgerald also will continue to serve as emergency services director.

Supervisors agreed that in the case of inclement weather their regular monthly meeting will be rescheduled for the subsequent Monday evening, no tie breaker will be used by the board, they adopted Roberts Rules of Order as the parliamentary procedure authority and confirmed the board’s current by-laws will be followed in meetings.

In other action Monday night, after much discussion supervisors agreed to accept the low bid of $1,526,781.12 from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield as the county’s insurance agent.

Bid requests were sent to 18 carriers, with three offering the county quotes for fully insured policies including Anthem’s quote, Southern Health with a quote of $1,595,927.28 and Piedmont Health Care with a quote of $1,746,140.76.

The current annual cost of health insurance is $1,779,757 including the employer and employee premiums. The current policy expires June 30, according to Finance Director Stephanie Jackson.

In comparing participating providers, benefit structure, prescription coverage and cost of insurance, Nester told supervisors staff recommended the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Health insurance proposal.

Presently the board appropriates $462 per month per employee for health insurance coverage for 218 employees who are funded at this level, Nester explained.
Under the Anthem proposal, Nester said the county can reduce the cost for the county and the employee.

“Historically, the board has tried to fund health insurance at 90 percent of the employee only coverage,” he said. “This would be $435 per month per employee creating a savings for the county and employee.”

Chairman Fitzgerald’s suggestion of reconvening a previous committee that investigated insurance options to have participation in the process of selecting the next insurance met with resistance from several members.

“Does that seem to be feasible?” asked Supervisor Claiborne who had served on the insurance committee with Supervisor Bowman last year.

“I just thought it would be a good idea to have representatives of the different departments…to be involved just to make sure they buy into what the board is recommending,” Fitzgerald said adding, “so there will be some dialogue, and they can say we participated.”

Bowman pointed out the county has already issued an RFP for these services, and the responses received “have been very favorable.

He further said the county was beyond renegotiating for services at this point.

”It’s up to us to accept the one we find the most favorable,” Bowman added.

Bowman said he saw no problem with inviting the participating partners to see the new offering and share it with their respective departments.

However, to invite input from them at this point is “a recipe for disaster,” he added.

“I’m very pleased with the responses, and I don’t want us to get bogged down in something that is not involved in making the decision,” Bowman continued. “I would suggest that we go ahead and make the decision tonight.”

“Then there wouldn’t be any point in reconvening the committee for discussion,” Fitzgerald responded.

“The committee is not about selection,” Bowman replied. “It’s up to us to select. The committee is being invited to come in and see what is being offered. It’s a courtesy more than anything else.”

Finance Director Jackson pointed out the bids were received in December, and some offers expire after 60 days. She further explained that if any changes were to be made in bid specifications, “we would have to go out and rebid and start the process over.”

After further discussion, Supervisor Bowman offered a motion to approve the staff recommendation of accepting the low bid from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of $1,526,781.12 and to inform participants of the insurance change as a courtesy.

“I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. I want to go ahead and lock it down financially and also for the benefits of the employees,” Bowman said disclosing he was not a participant in the plan.

Claiborne seconded Bowman’s motion, and supervisors voted unanimously to accept Anthem’s bid.

Also Monday evening, Virginia Department of Transportation Residency Administrator Joe Barkley informed supervisors bids had been received for the permanent bridge over the Banister River on Bethel Road and were expected to be opened on Jan. 27.

Cost of the project is estimated at $9.6 million, and the permanent bridge is expected to be in place by Dec. 9, 2011, Barkley explained.

“I’m just excited it survived all of VDOT’s financial problems,” Barkley said of the bridge project. “The temporary bridge is serving us well, and hopefully it will last until 2011.”

He also explained other bridge projects on River Road include the Birch Creek and Miry Creek bridges to be advertised in February.

“These are unique in that they will have temporary traffic signals (for traffic control) at these two places,” Barkley said.

Other VDOT projects include a new precast box to be built on Route 716 over Clardie Creek near Falkland Farms.

“We are going to build a new structure right beside it, then we will get traffic on that and tear the old structure out. We probably will only have to close the road a few hours,” Barkley said.

The VDOT residency administrator then showed a Power Point presentation on a project on Route 602 over Aarons Creek that was completed several days after Christmas.

Acting on a request from the county administrator, Barkley also outlined changes that have been made recently in access management regulations.
According to Barkley, property owners are now responsible for not only buying drainage pipes for their entrances but also must pay for the cost of installation.
VDOT can install the pipe and bill the owner, he explained.

In other county business Monday night, supervisors took the following actions:

• Were introduced by Animal Control Chief Todd Moser to county animal control officers attending the meeting including Angel Conner, Andre Clauden, Leroy King and Andrew Jones;

•  Set the date of the annual board planning retreat for Feb. 11 and 12 at Riverstone;

• Received an update on the courthouse drainage project from County Administrator Nester who explained Halifax Paving was the low bidder with its $10,800 quote for the project which is expected to take two weeks to complete;

• Referred to the building and grounds committee for review a document providing a general summary of repairs and improvements needed in the Halifax County Historic Courthouse before authorizing the county administrator to get a cost estimate;

• Were informed the county has been designated as an area that qualifies for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding and approved a claim of $135,000 to be submitted for refund;

• Received an update that the county will receive a housing planning grant that will pay for Southside Planning Commission to conduct a study to identify areas that might qualify for Department of Housing and Community Development grant funding;

• Officially adopted a resolution to be included in the minutes urging the governor to keep open Camp 23 as discussed at last month’s meeting;

• Set two public hearings for Feb. 1 on a request from SBA Towers II, LLC to locate a 195-foot telecommunications tower at Five Forks in ED-5 on the south side of Bellevue Road, .20 miles east of its intersection with James D. Hagood Highway and on 19 Agricultural Forestal District (AFD) applications as referred by the AFD Advisory Committee;

County Attorney Jeremy Carroll explained one public hearing can be held on the 19 AFD applications.

According to County Administrator Nester, the 19 applications were the first to be received out of the 68 applications meeting the Nov. 1 deadline. More public hearings on additional applications are expected in the future, he added.

•  Elected ED-2 Supervisor West to serve as the new fair committee chairman replacing Edmunds who had served as chair;

The 100th Annual Halifax County Fair has been set for Oct. 5-9.

•  Referred to the building and grounds committee the issue of whether a standard residential well or a Class 2 public water source well should be drilled to supply restroom facilities at Edmunds Park since the health department will not allow the existing well to be used for the proposed $50,000 restroom facility;

•  Approve the consent agenda containing seven poultry claims for a total of $70 and 23 coyote claims for a total of $1,150; and
At the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, supervisors went behind closed doors in an executive session but took no action after discussing 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.