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Search continues to fund portable stage in Halifax County

Halifax County Supervisors agreed Monday night to continue their search for funding to purchase a portable stage for outdoor entertainment and festivals. During their regular monthly meeting, board members by consensus agreed to proceed looking for a match to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development grant to cover the estimated $200,000 cost of the portable amphitheater and equipment.

According to County Administrator George Nester, the USDA’s initial review of the county’s application has indicated this is a project that might be funded by USDA up to an amount of 55 percent of the project cost.

In the application to USDA, the county had estimated the project cost of a portable stage and lighting system to be $200,000, and the USDA indicated it may fund up to 55 percent of that project, he said.

However, Nester said the inclination had been for the board to ask the Virginia Tobacco Commission to fund the 45 percent balance amounting to about $95,000.

Supervisor Chairman Bill Fitzgerald said he spoke with tobacco commission member Ed Owens about the possibility of funding the 45 percent of the balance and reported the tobacco commission would not likely fund this type of project.

Nester told board members they could either withdraw the application for further USDA consideration, the county could consider matching the 45 percent cost, or they could continue to identify another source to fund the estimated $95,000 remaining cost.

“In talking to fellow board members, I think we sense that we really want to pursue it even though I’ve been kind of discouraged from proceeding forward,” Fitzgerald said.

ED-2 Supervisor Tom West said he would agree to proceed “as long as the county can get some grant funding” to pay for the stage.

In other action Monday evening, no public hearing was held after a conditional use permit request was withdrawn on a land use application in ED-3 by Charles, Barbara and Brad Nutter to locate a metalcraft fabrication shop known as BSN Fabricating on Ridgeway Road in Vernon Hill.

The shop’s proposed location had been on the east side of Ridgeway Road (Route 675), approximately .40 of a mile south of its intersection with Cheerful Lane, according to the application.

According to Planning and Zoning Administrator Robbie Love, the Nutters withdrew the application after realizing the commercial entrance required would be too expensive for the small amount of work that came through the entrance.

Fair Coordinator Donnell Corelle presented her final report on the 100th anniversary of the Halifax County Fair telling board members the fair realized $148,906 in income (representing a 36 percent increase in total income) and expenditures totaling $137,789 (for a 3 percent increase in budgeted expenses) for 2010 over last year with weeklong paying attendees totaling 17,252 and 1,507 complimentary tickets being distributed.

Corelle said while the realized income was 36 percent over projections, projected income had been 70 percent of the projected profit of $15,950.

“Major factors included an increase in advertising, entertainment and an unexpected charge for utilities,” she added.

In summary she told supervisors, “The fair has a new face to further its brand in the next century. Although the profit was 30 percent less than projected, the overall income surpassed projection, and the county has a good beginning in attracting and tracking ‘new money’ coming to the area.”

Also Monday night, board members took the following actions:

• Heard a monthly status update from Virginia Department of Transportation Highway Residency Administrator Joe Barkley and approved a resolution of support for Route 642 improvements;

• Heard another report from the county administrator on a co-mingled recycling pilot project that will enable the county to reduce the number of trips to each recycling and convenience center from five trips to one trip to recover the recycled materials;

On Oct. 20, the county made its first delivery to the Chester recycling company taking two truckloads of materials with a combined total of 19.6 tons of recyclable materials, Nester said.

The county plans to continue this program several more weeks to determine if the recyclable program offers a cost savings to the county, he added.

• Approved a resolution authorizing the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority to act as a conduit issuing up to $140,000,000 in tax-exempt private activity bonds known as Recovery Zone Facility Bonds for Virginia Electric Power (Dominion Power) with the county and IDA having no liability;

• Amended the original consulting agreement with Anderson and Associates to develop a water demand projection for a 50-year period in the county’s water supply plan required by DEQ at a cost of $10,000 which will be paid by a DEQ grant;

• Responded to a request of Gov. McDonnell that 22 localities including Halifax County be allowed to participate in any emergency assistance programs available to counties designated as drought disaster areas;

• Set a public hearing for Monday, Dec. 6, on a conditional use permit application request from W. A. Stevens who is interested in locating an Internet gaming café in the Hite’s Tile and Carpet building located in  ED-5 on James D. Hagood Highway on the southeast side at its intersection with Shady Lane;

• Were informed Department of Environmental Quality will conduct a public hearing on Monday, Nov. 22, at 6 p.m. on South Boston Energy, LLC’s application to construct a wood-fired electricity generating facility on Plywood Trail in South Boston;

• Appointed Alan Gravitt to fill a vacancy on the Southside Regional Juvenile Group Home Commission effective Jan. 1, 2010 created by the resignation of Maurice Riddle and appointed South Boston Police Captain B. K. Lovelace to fill a vacancy created by the death of former ED-1 Supervisor R. E. Abbott; and

• Reappointed Douglas Powell to serve a three-year term on the board of equalization.

At the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, supervisors went behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss specific county officers and departments; the disposition of property in the Town of Virgilina; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; an investment of public funds; consult with legal council; plans related to the security of a specific governmental building and the safety of persons using that building; and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.

When they came back in open session, no action was taken.