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Supes to consider SVHEC funding

Halifax County Board of Supervisors will consider approving a resolution during its meeting tonight that asks Gov. Bob McDonnell to add $250,000 in state funding to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) budget next year.

The meeting gets under way at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room of the Mary Bethune Complex in Halifax.

SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams has requested the governing bodies of the county and Towns of Halifax and South Boston to adopt the resolution.

The governor is expected to announce his plans for the upcoming state budget on Dec. 17.

The resolution is expected to draw the support of Halifax County supervisors at tonight’s meeting as well as the support of South Boston and Halifax town councils at their upcoming December meetings.

The $250,000 increase, which has been recommended by Secretary of Education Gerald Robinson, is needed, according to the joint resolution, to maintain vital human capital at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center which was previously funded through tobacco commission grants in three workforce development areas: The R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency, The USA/Top Solid Institute and The Business of Art and Design.

These programs bring together education, research and development and workforce development to retool the Southside Virginia workforce where the unemployment rate is 12 percent.

According to County Administrator George Nester, “Time is of the essence, and the governing bodies are requested to authorize this resolution.”

The funds requested are needed to maintain a number of positions at the Higher Ed Center involved in the innovative workforce training programs, he explained.

“At this time no state funding is received to support these programs,” he added.

The programs that are at risk were initially funded through the tobacco commission and align with the region’s initiatives to grow degrees and create jobs, the county administrator explained.

Over the past few years the Higher Ed Center has used tobacco commission funding to engage a full spectrum of educational partners in developing workforce development programs that get to the heart of the area’s needs for workforce development and training, Nester said.

The tobacco grant programs will end in the period of February to May 2011, so this request for funding “is crucial,” he added.

In other action tonight, supervisors have put on hold a public hearing on a conditional use permit application request from W. A. Stevens who is interested in locating an Internet gaming café in ED-5 on James D. Hagood Highway on the southeast side at its intersection with Shady Lane.

According to Zoning Administrator Robbie Love, the hearing has been cancelled due to a temporary hold on an entrance permit by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Once VDOT has completed its review of the commercial entrance, Love said the hearing will be rescheduled.

Also scheduled for a public hearing tonight is a request by the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to amend Virginia Enterprise Zone 15 to add 130 acres comprising the Daystrom building and some additional industrially zoned property it adjoins.

According to Nester, the benefit of being within an approved Virginia Enterprise Zone is to encourage industrial and technical development and redevelopment through offerings of certain employment tax benefits.

The Department of Housing and Community Development requires the public hearing and governing body approval.

Also tonight, board members are expected to take the following actions:

• Listen to Jorg Huckabee-Mayfield of the Virginia Department of Transportation give a monthly status update;

• Hear a request from Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders for a change in the decal reimbursement process that would provide for a separate appropriation of $25 per volunteer to be issued to the departments directly and in turn will be dispensed to the volunteers individually;

• Consider adopting the drought management plan prepared by Anderson and Associates that develops a water demand projection for a 50-year period in the county’s water supply plan required by DEQ as well as approve a supporting ordinance;

• Take action on a request from Virginia Cooperative Extension to support hiring a 4-H technician using savings remaining from a retirement position in the extension service;

•  Receive an update on the process the commonwealth will use to implement the Virginia Line of Duty Act state mandate that provides benefits and coverage for public safety officials including sheriff, EMS, fire, rescue and police including volunteers and their families and requires the locality to pay a premium to cover each volunteer and public safety employee;

•  Consider adopting a resolution that requests the state not close Camp 23 as a budget reduction option;

•  Review and consider approving the proposed FY2012 budget calendar;

•  Make appointments to fill a vacancy on the Halifax County Improvement Council for a two-year term that expires Jan. 31, 2011 made necessary by the resignation of Elsie Griles in ED-2;

•  Make an appointment to the Lake Country Area Agency on Aging to fill the three-year term held by Victoria Jackson that expired Sept. 30 since Jackson is not eligible for reappointment;

•  Hear citizens comments; and

•  At the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, supervisors are scheduled to go behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss performance of specific county officers and departments; discuss the disposition of property in the Town of Virgilina; discuss a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; discuss an investment of public funds; consult with legal council; discuss 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.