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Contribution to fight uranium on SoBo council agenda

South Boston Town Council will consider a recommendation from the finance committee to contribute $5,000 to the Virginia Coalition when it meets tonight at 8 p.m. at council chambers on Yancey Street.

The Virginia Coalition, an affiliate of the Roanoke River Basin Association, is working to extend the moratorium on uranium mining and milling in Virginia.

In May, council approved an initial donation of $5,000 to the Virginia Coalition in its ongoing battle to prevent the ban on uranium mining in Virginia from being lifted.

Town Manager Ted Daniel notified council of a second formal request for $5,000 from the Virginia Coalition during the July work session.

South Boston business owner and former councilman Tom Raab had urged council at an earlier meeting to consider financial support of the Virginia Coalition, of which he is a member.

The organization’s efforts are aimed at keeping Virginia’s current ban on uranium mining in place and prevent proposed uranium mining at the Coles Hill site in Pittsylvania County.

In other business tonight, council is expected to discuss its goals and objectives for 2012-14 and reestablish a joint library consolidation committee.

As part of that discussion will be the cost of reopening the South Boston Library on Wednesdays.

The library consolidation issue was first raised at a town council retreat in 2000, where consolidation issues were discussed with members of the board of supervisors and again at its 2008 retreat.

Prior to tonight’s discussion, the last time council discussed library consolidation was at its 2008 and 2012 retreats, with the issue part of the agenda for the October joint meeting with the county.

No action was taken on library consolidation at that meeting.

 “The argument is consolidation has always proven to be advantageous to everyone, and everyone of those consolidation issues was fraud with angst, resistance to change, but I think the record shows consolidation was a viable way to do it,” South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel told council members at its retreat last month.

“If it isn’t the issue of whether to consolidate or not to consolidate, in my mind, the point is does it really require serious discussions of how our county is going to operate the library system. Does the community want two separate libraries,?” Daniel asked council.  “If that is the decision of the county and town, it seems to be logical we throw our support behind funding to make them effective.”

At the retreat, Councilman Coleman Speece said it was nonsensical to have two libraries supported by tax dollars.

 “The biggest variable in my mind is the budget crunch, and having to know what particular day the library is open is non-sensical. We ought to have a library you can go visit any day of the week,” he added.

Library Director Joe Zappacosta has told council members he is “open to this discussion.”

Some on council have suggested a building in the Centerville area would be appropriate because of its proximity to the high school.

Council is expected to reestablish a joint library consolidation committee at tonight’s meeting.

In other town business, council is expected to consider adopting a resolution requesting approval from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for a Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation project for the Washington Coleman Community Center area.

Also council is expected to discuss affordable housing initiatives associated with the Habitat for Humanity and Southside Outreach Program.

Included are a possible partnership between the town, University of Virginia and Southern Virginia Higher Education Center for design of an eComod dwelling for first-time homeowners, development of the Poplar Creek site in partnership with Southside Outreach, and support for Habitat for Humanity and Summit Drive development.

“The Innovation Center got a grant, and we’re working with them, with SIPS of America and the higher education center for zero-net energy housing,” said Daniel when referring to the Poplar Creek site.

“In the future if we don’t have a housing priority we may come back to the town for funding to help develop that site. The closer we get to developing that site and putting houses in there quickly, the better our chances at getting Community Development Block Grant development money for infrastructure,” the town manager added.

A public comment period will be held at the close of tonight’s meeting before council members go behind closed doors to consider appointments to fill a council vacancy created by the resignation of Connie Manning who announced she would leave her elected position effective Aug. 31 to move out of the area.

Council first appointed Manning to the seat in December 2010 to fill the unexpired term of councilwoman Sandra Thompson.

She was reelected to the post in May.