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Group to take read on future of libraries

What to do with the two libraries in Halifax County — that’s what six members of a “reenergized and rebirthed” joint library committee will discuss in coming months after Halifax County Board of Supervisors and South Boston and Halifax town councils unanimously voted Monday night to reestablish the committee comprised of two members of each governing body.

Members were not selected Monday night, but each body agreed to appoint two and notify County Administrator Jim Halasz of their choices. That committee will become active once membership has been established by the three jurisdictions and will continue for a year after date of its organization.

The working joint committee is charged with discussing and researching consolidation of the two branches in the towns of South Boston and Halifax and other matters of service and funding for the county library system and then report their findings back to the two town councils and board of supervisors.

Establishment of the joint library committee Monday night was prompted by a request from South Boston Town Council.

According to South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel, the first joint library committee met back in 1999, almost 14 years ago.

In the past, the joint library committee has leaned toward consolidation of the two branch libraries, Daniel said.

“The town got reinvolved in it this summer in light of the fiscal realities of the position the county is in financially, and some of the funding had to be reduced to the library by the county … that put the county in a position where it was cutting back on its resources,” the town manager said.

He acknowledged many ways exist to handle the library situation with consolidation being only one of them.

“Continuing to operate as a two branch library is certainly one, and that’s a popular option that a lot of folks would like to stay with tradition doing that,” he added. “The place to work out all of these issues is with the joint study committee. I think we will eventually resolve this issue to everyone’s satisfaction, and all the citizens will be happy. We look forward to working on another good joint project.”

In other action Monday evening, supervisors and members of the two town councils listened as Lynn Crump of the Department of Conservation and Recreation delivered a PowerPoint presentation on the Banister River qualifying as a potential scenic river.

Following Crump’s presentation, council members and supervisors approved a joint resolution to request designation of a specific area of the Banister River as a State Scenic River.

Previously, supervisors and Halifax Town Council have gone on record to support the designation.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation studied this matter as required and found the specific areas of the river studied to qualify for certification, according to Crump.

In order to proceed with finalizing the designation, the two governing bodies are requesting this designation be granted, and the General Assembly initiate legislative action to accomplish it.

In a letter to the governing bodies, Del. James Edmunds said he would present their request for scenic river designation in the upcoming 2013 General Assembly session.

South Boston Town Councilman Coleman Speece asked Crump whether scenic river designation would provide an additional impediment for the General Assembly when they consider lifting the ban on uranium mining that may jeopardize the waters in the Banister River.

According to Crump, the designation would not add any regulations. However, the community support for protecting their resource would show how important this issue is to the community.

“It shows collaboration and community support as well as a desire to protect these resources,” Crump said of the designation.

Also Monday night before adjourning the joint meeting, supervisors and council members recognized three members of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors who attended the meeting in support of the Banister River designation including Staunton River District Supervisor Marshall A. Ecker, Banister District Supervisor Jessie L. Barksdale and Callands-Gretna District Supervisor Jerry A. Hagerman.

 Following the joint meeting, supervisors held a public hearing on a request for a variance from John Voss to convert a 2,603 feeder pig operation to a 1,041 head wean pig operation reducing inventory by 1,562 head.

In order to accommodate this change, a new barn approximately 50’ x 190’ and a walkway attaching the existing barn is required. A 25’ extension of farrowing space also will need to be added to an existing barn.

Voss currently operates a hog farm located on Deer View Trail in ED-6.

Supervisors were not required to take action other than hold a public hearing, and the Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to hold a hearing on the matter on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m.

In addition to Voss, those speaking in support of the variance request were neighboring pig farm operator Page Wilkerson who told supervisors he had taken the same action for which Voss is seeking a variance at his pig farm operation in Alton 15 years ago.

Halifax Town Councilman Jack Dunavant spoke in favor of Voss’ request saying, “I think it’s a good thing he is doing. He will have a more humane operation, and it’s certainly agreeable with us and all in all a good thing to do for his farm.”

Halifax County Farm Bureau President Scott Crowder also supported Voss’ variance request describing what Voss is trying to do as “a step in the right direction.”

Supervisor Chairman Tom West told board members the agriculture advisory committee also has endorsed Voss’ request for a variance.

ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis said he was impressed with the integrity of Voss’ farming operation adding, “This is a positive step for animal welfare.”

ED-6 Supervisor Wayne Conner, who represents the district in which Voss’ pig farming operation is located, said, “He’s got his act together. This move would be a good move for him and the county.”

Although no motion was necessary, Conner went on record offering a motion to support the request which the board unanimously approved.

ED-3 Supervisor Bill Fitzgerald and ED-8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne were absent from Monday night’s meeting.

In other action Monday night, supervisors tabled action on nominating a supervisor for appointment to The Prizery board.

Earlier this month, supervisors approved a $60,000 loan to The Prizery contingent upon The Prizery Board of Directors appointing a supervisor to its board in the near future. 

The one-year loan is to be repaid to the county by Sept. 30, 2013.

And in final action, supervisors agreed to allow the Halifax Village Business Association and the Town of Halifax moving forward with placing a community clock in front of the library.

The county is not being asked to contribute in any fashion to the project other than to provide the site necessary for the clock and work with the town and association to have the clock erected, according to Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy.

“Use of the site itself is the only county commitment,” he added.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman West allowed Frank Booker an opportunity to address supervisors although no public comment period had been added to the agenda.

Booker requested supervisors fund more money to the Halifax branch library to allow it to continue operations on Friday.

Due to the lack of finances, library board members voted to close the Halifax library on Fridays earlier this year.

Booker’s second request involved the board funding improvements to the roof and entryway of the Halifax County Courthouse that he described as “rusting and in need of repair before winter sets in.”