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Supervisors, Town Councils, Fire Departments, EMS Honor Forester

Halifax County Supervisors along with members of the Halifax, South Boston, Virgilina and Scottsburg Town Councils as well as area fire departments and EMS officials presented two framed resolutions honoring well-known forester William Alexander “Alex” Williamson of Alton to his wife, Betty, and son John Monday night during a joint meeting of governing bodies.

A lifelong resident of the county, Williamson died Saturday, March 13, at North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem following a freak accident on I-40 near Mocksville in Davie County, North Carolina. He was 59 years old.

During the joint meeting at the Mary Bethune Complex in Halifax Monday night, Williamson was remembered for his nearly 36 years of working with the Virginia Department of Forestry, serving many years as chief forest tech in Halifax County.

During his years with the Virginia Department of Forestry, he won several prestigious awards, including employee of the year and conservationist of the year.

He was a familiar site whenever a brush fire or fire in any wooded area broke out in Halifax County. Williamson also traveled across the country to fight forest fires whenever Virginia was asked to assist other states.

He was recognized nationwide in his fire prevention efforts by achieving distinguished service awards in Florida and Oklahoma, according to family members. Williamson served on the National Christmas Tree tour, and he was recognized for his outstanding efforts in the area of Forest Fire Prevention in Region 8.

Children across Halifax County learned about the importance of fire safety from Williamson, who would speak to them in the county’s schools, usually accompanied by Smokey the Bear.

He was a lifetime member of the Turbeville Volunteer Fire Department and was an honorary member of the South Boston Fire Company, as well as other fire departments.

Family members said he was best known for playing on their league ball teams and serving as master of ceremonies for firefighter parades.

Williamson was a member of American Legion Post #8 and VFW Post #8243, having served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972.

He was a member of the Farm Bureau Board of Directors, an honorary member of the FFA and a member of the Department of Forestry Honor Guard.

He was a faithful lifetime member of Calvary United Methodist Church recognized for providing outreach assistance to those in need as well as providing life altering assistance to a number of individuals as an organ donor.

Also during Monday night’s joint meeting, council members and supervisors viewed a detailed PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Charles Devine on Lyme Disease in the area.

Devine explained Lyme Disease, a tick borne bacterial disease, is primarily transmitted in this area by the black legged tick, most often in its nymph stage when it is the size of a sesame seed.

According to the doctor, the infected tick must be attached to the body for about 36 hours in order to transmit the disease to a human.

Lyme Disease has increased “fairly steadily” in Virginia due to environmental factors explained by bumper crops of acorn that attract white footed mice that transmit the disease to the tick population, he explained.

Halifax County statistics indicate there were no reported CDC cases in 2005 and 2006, one in 2007 and 2008 and three in 2009.

Across the state, 868 cases were reported last year, he added.

Lyme Disease prevention involves avoiding tick habitats such as forestall areas and brush undercover; dressing appropriately in light colored clothing such as long pants and socks; using repellant on skin and clothes; doing thorough tick checks; removing ticks; and knowing the early signs of Lyme Disease which often include a rash and bullseye mark around the infected area.

Under new business Monday night, supervisors and council members appointed a committee to discuss long-term options for the Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball League as alternatives to playing on the Halifax Elementary ball field.

Appointed to the committee were Halifax Councilmen Jack Dunavant and Bill Confroy, Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman, Dixie Youth Baseball (DYB) representatives Randy Moore and Raymond Duffer along with Brad Ballou of the county recreation department and County Administrator George Nester.

In the meantime, the county administrator told DYB officials in attendance Monday night that it is not the goal or intent of county and town officials to remove this organization from the Halifax Elementary field it has used for so many years.
“But the window of opportunity is now open to look for alternatives,” he added.

Supervisor Chairman William Fitzgerald added, “We want to start some dialogue and see what the future brings.”

Also Monday night, supervisors unanimously supported a letter of support to the Virginia Department of Transportation requesting donation of Kings Bridge Road right-of-way to the Town of Halifax for the Banister River Gateway Project.

Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy told supervisors town attorney Russell Slayton had drafted the letter of support to VDOT after showing a brief PowerPoint that explained the background and goals of the Enhancement Grant Project in conjunction with the new bridge slated to be built in Halifax.

During the joint meeting Monday, South Boston Town Clerk Jane Jones invited members of the three governing bodies to attend a free four-hour summer workshop offered by Virginia Municipal League to address conflict management and community engagement.

Following the joint meeting of the three governing bodies, the county board of supervisors reconvened to consider approving a botanical garden agreement but delayed voting on the memorandum of agreement until their May 3 meeting.

Dr. Charles Stallard, president of the Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens (SVBG) and Environmental Education Center, addressed supervisors in support of developing a series of public educational demonstration gardens on approximately 15 acres in Edmunds Park.

Stallard said the demonstration garden will be designed and supported by the people of Halifax County.
“We are very anxious to move forward,” he told supervisors.

The SVBG, a not for profit organization, plans to furnish services to beautify and maintain the community by developing a botanical garden at Edmunds Park that will benefit the county and all guests visiting the park, according to the license agreement.

The term of the license agreement between the county and SVBG will be for 15 years beginning May 1 and continuing through April 30, 2025 with annual license fee of $1 being paid to the county treasurer.

According to the agreement, SVBG will develop and maintain the botanical garden at its own cost and expense and will feature different aspects of gardening and horticulture.

The garden will be open to the public at no charge at all times when Edmunds Park is open, and SVBG will provide for ongoing maintenance and operation of the garden, the agreement states.

SVBG will be allowed to construct an information center on the property and will provide a collection of resources for visitors to use in planning agricultural projects.

At the close of the project, all improvements within the park will become the property of the county, the agreement states.

In other business Monday night, supervisors approved the $57,693,025 county school budget for FY 2011, a budget that is 8.4 percent less or $5,314,305 lower than the previous year and includes $13,256,000 in local funding.

At the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, supervisors entered into closed session to discuss the acquisition or disposition of property; consult with legal council; and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds but took no action.