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New supervisors take office oath

Newly elected supervisors from ED-2, ED-3 and ED-6 took their oaths of office along with Halifax County’s new Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin at the beginning of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Monday night in Halifax.


Halifax County Circuit Court Judge Joel Cunningham took turns swearing in Martin, incumbent supervisor Tom West and newly elected supervisors Earl Womack and Larry Giordano.

The new supervisors will take their place at the board of supervisors’ table in January.

Following the swearing in ceremony, supervisors presented retiring Halifax County Registrar Judy Meeler and Halifax County Recreation Director Brad Ballou with resolutions of commendations for their years of dedicated service to the county and its citizens.

Meeler has served as registrar since 1993 and has worked in the registrar’s office since 1985.

Ballou, an employee of Halifax County for 32 years, will retire as recreation director effective Jan. 1. 

Resolutions of commendation also were presented to outgoing supervisors William I. Fitzgerald of ED-3 and E. Wayne Conner of ED-6, both of whom opted not to seek reelection in November.

When supervisors got down to county business Monday evening, they authorized the county administrator to negotiate and enter into a contract with Fun at the Fair, LLC for management and operation of the Halifax County Fair under terms similar to the current contract which includes a term of three years and a one year optional extension period subject to review and approval by County Attorney Jeremy Carroll.

The motion by ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman passed unanimously with ED-5 Supervisor Barry Bank and ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis absent from Monday night’s meeting.

County Administrator Jim Halasz told supervisors the annual task of producing a fair “is no small accomplishment.”

The county has had a positive experience over the past several years using local fair manager and operator James Edmunds II, he explained.

“The citizens have continued to support the local fair, and attendance has increased each year,” Halasz said.

Based on the previous experience of the county in attempts to procure fair managers and operators and the competitive nature of promoting and retaining local, rural fairs and festivals, the county is using sole source procurement to award a contract for the Halifax County Fair management and operations, the county administrator said.

After thorough review of past procurements, interviews with county staff and community members, review of financial and operating data, discussions with the chamber of commerce and with local entities that manage large festivals and public events, Halasz said the consensus is Fun at the Fair, LLC provides the expertise and local involvement and support required to continue to produce the fair.

In other county business at Monday night’s meeting, supervisors heard a presentation from Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority Administrator Timothy Trent on the status of this regional entity.

Also attending the meeting was Matt Marsteller, assistant administrator. 

Along with the City of Lynchburg and counties of Bedford, Amherst, Campbell and Appomattox, Halifax County shares in the cost and benefits of this regional jail service.

Created in 1994, the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority currently averages approximately 1,200 inmates and employs a staff of 410.

Trent said officers offer direct supervision by working directly in the housing units with the inmates where they interact to prevent problems which cuts down on fights and potentially volatile situations.

The average state cost of housing an inmate is $72.99 per day compared to the $57.45 average operation cost per day for the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority.

Comparatively, Trent said it costs $3.32 per day to feed an inmate and $4.94 per day for medical treatment.

He told of one specific inmate who requires a shot that costs $3,000 a month which the authority is required to provide.

While housed in one of the authority’s five county jails, inmates are encouraged and provided means to get their GEDs, he added.

“We try to keep them from coming back,” he said.

Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority currently has ample space to house the anticipated inmate population moving forward, according to the jail authority administrator. 

“We do not foresee any expansions needed, nor do we anticipate any new member jurisdictions being added,” Trent told supervisors.

Halifax County Adult Detention Center has capacity to house 147 with 200 actual beds. Currently, the jail houses 128 inmates.

In other county business, supervisors took the following actions:

Were briefed on ongoing Virginia Department of Transportation projects and activities in the county and were introduced to new VDOT District Administrator Chris Winstead;

 Were informed that ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis presented an overview of the top nine projects along the Highway 501 corridor identified by VDOT as high priorities in need of attention to the Commonwealth Transportation Board and Virginia Department of Transportation in Lynchburg on Nov. 21;

 Listened to an update on a state mandated stormwater management ordinance from Building Inspector Otis Vaughan who told supervisors starting July 1, localities will be required to enforce stormwater management ordinances including reviewing, permitting, inspecting and enforcement;

Supervisors are expected to adopt a proposed ordinance at its Dec. 12 planning session that would meet the requirements of the state mandate.

The goals of the state mandated stormwater management are to improve water quality and decrease run off and flooding.

However, associated with this positive public good will be continuing costs to local taxpayers and property owners as this program is implemented in coming years, Vaughan said.

 Received a final reminder of the upcoming annual planning session to be held Dec. 12 when the board will meet with the school board and school superintendent to review and discuss items of mutual concern;

 Approved a resolution setting the 2014 board meeting schedule and 2014-15 budget calendar;

 Reappointed Chris Lumsden and Butch Blanks to four-year terms on the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority and appointed incoming ED-3 Supervisor Earl Womack to serve on the Housing Rehabilitation Board for the Pine Height Trail Project funding through a Southside Planning District Commission grant.

At the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, supervisors went behind closed doors in an executive session with the county attorney, but they took no action when they emerged.