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Visitor’s center wins backing from council

Halifax Town Council gave thumbs up to the proposed Halifax County visitor’s center during its monthly meeting Tuesday night in Halifax. Council approved a resolution supporting submission of a 2011 grant application to the Virginia Tobacco Commission for funds totaling $498,000 to assist with the purchase and development of a new visitor’s center on Highway 58 in South Boston.

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), South Boston Industrial Development Authority, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors and South Boston Town Council also have approved similar resolutions.

Halifax County Tourism Director Linda Shepperd and county IDA Executive Director Mike Sexton spoke to council members prior to their pre-meeting work session Tuesday seeking council’s support for the project.

“We want to be in a high traffic, high visibility area,” Shepperd said. “And the sole purpose will be to promote everything within this county and how to get to it.”
She said the projected budget for the county department of tourism would increase by $107,000 to a total of $217,000.

Currently 60 visitor’s centers in the state are supported by individual localities and 10 supported by the state, one of those in Danville, Shepperd said.

“Over six years we will create jobs, we will increase tax revenues, and we will increase our visitors’ standing in the community,” she added.

Shepperd stressed she was not asking for additional financial support from the town, which provides $2,500 to the Department of Tourism each year. During the meeting, council unanimously approved the resolution of support for the grant application.

Also prior to the work session, Halifax County Service Authority (HCSA) Executive Director Willie Jones spoke to council on the water problems in the area of Maple Avenue, Buena Vista Drive and Lakeshore Drive.

Councilman Phil Hammond, who lives on Maple Avenue, said he has had problems and has heard a number of complaints from his neighbors about dirty and foul-smelling water. Hammond said the problem has been going on for eight years.

Jones said some very old pipe materials are located in that area, a lot of unlined cast iron pipe and also some galvanized service lines going to the homes.

The HCSA director showed council members a section of galvanized line that had been cut out, pointing out rust in the unlined 50 to 60 year-old pipe. He said over time the pipe would corrode on the inside, which is a natural function of water running through a pipe.

Jones said when the HCSA closed the Halifax water plant, it changed the flow characteristics of the water. He said they are experimenting with the flushing of the lines and have seen some improvement. Jones said they would continue flushing on a daily basis for the next few weeks to see if it would improve the water quality.

Long-time Maple Avenue resident Gus Mitchell said he has had problems with his water, especially in the last year and a half. “You never know when you turn that water on if you’re going to get clear water or you’re going to get yellow or brown water,” Mitchell said.

Jones said HCSA staff would be willing to flush out lines going from the main lines to individual houses to see if the problem improves. He also said the water is safe to drink, but they would continue to work to improve water aesthetically.

Business Development Committee

Halifax Events Coordinator Erin Shaughnessy updated council members on “Grills and Thrills,” the barbecue cook-off and car show scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23. She said sponsor packets have gone out, and to date six barbecue chefs have indicated they would participate in the event.

Council members discussed the Halifax Farmers Market, saying the special events have been great, but there are not enough vendors participating in the weekly farmers market. Town Manager Carl Espy said he would check with Ray Satterfield, president of the Halifax County Farmers Market Association, to see what he is doing to encourage vendors to participate in the Halifax Farmers Market.

Shaughnessy said the Halifax Village Business Association (HVBA) is working on “Soiree In The Hills,” its fundraising event scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, at Greenwood Vineyards. She said they are working on the food with Molasses Grill. Beer and wine will be available, and also an auction and live music will be featured.

Also, Shaughnessy said the HVBA is working with CPA Ron Reiter and attorney George Bagwell to become 501(c)(3) compliant.

Espy provided each council member with a copy of the Convergence Art Guild’s first year activities report.

Finance Committee

Finance Committee Chairman Holt Evans reported the end of the year financial report is completed.

Evans also requested council approve a carryover of unexpended funding in the street department and police department. Council approved the request in its regular meeting.

Prior to adjourning, council decided to change the meeting date of its September meeting to Tuesday, Sept. 21. Mayor Dick Moore said Espy and several council members would be out of town on the regular meeting night, Sept. 14.