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Town clock, new chimes a step closer to reality

Sounds of musical chimes may soon fill the air in the Town of Halifax after Halifax Town Council members agreed to help the Halifax Village Business Association buy musical chimes and maintain a new town clock they anticipate purchasing soon.

During its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night in Halifax Town Hall, Marsha Hite and Karen Schopen of the Halifax Village Business Association told council members the chimes cost $2,995, and annual maintenance would cost $390. 

The clock is slated to be placed on county-owned land in the green grassy area in front of the Halifax branch library, Hite and Schopen explained.

Council agreed to appropriate maintenance funds for the clock on the condition the association ask county officials also to help with the costs since it will be situated on county property.

Halifax Village Association has been looking into purchasing a clock for the town for the past five years, having raised almost enough money now to make the purchase, Hite and Schopen said. 

The clock company, Verdin Designs, has agreed to sell the clock for $13,500, the quote given five years ago, if the association buys it by December.

Council also approved a Memorandum of Understanding Tuesday night for Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative to proceed with its wireless Internet pilot project in the Town of Halifax.

In June, council approved use of the downtown water tank in the wireless pilot project and authorized Town Manager Carl Espy to work with Mid-Atlantic Broadband and its partners to test the WiFi capability of the system throughout the town.

 According to Espy, the purpose of the memorandum is to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of each party as they relate to the deployment of radio equipment on the town-owned water tank located near the intersection of Main Street and Houston Street.

 The memorandum states Mid-Atlantic Broadband is responsible for deployment of the radio and ancillary equipment on the water tower, providing free WiFi hotspot capability on a limited basis, the maintenance of the equipment, granting a waiver of liability to the town for any activities pursuant to the trial and removal of equipment at the end of the trial.

 The town is responsible for allowing Mid-Atlantic Broadband to use the water tower to conduct a proof concept trial for VNL solar powered radio equipment for the length of time proscribed, according to the memorandum.


Combined committees meeting and work session

Virginia Association of Police Chiefs Executive Director Dana Schard offered council an overview of how the association plans to assist with the interview and selection process to fill the town’s police chief position during the combined committees meeting and work session held earlier Tuesday evening in Town Hall.

Schard said the position announcement on the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police website has been updated to accept applicants through Saturday, and she expects to have the candidate pool reviewed, evaluated and ranked by the third week in September.

Hopefully the final five or six prospects can be notified for interviews with the peer assessment panel by the last week in September, Schard said, and she expects to make an announcement Oct. 31.

Schard explained the peer assessment panel is a key component used to ensure a panel of independent police experts examine the finalists and make recommendations to the town manager.

The association’s comprehensive involvement in the process also provides more support and assistance for the new chief and police department following the hiring of the chief, Schard said. 

The association routinely provides guidance for a new chief to assist in the professional accreditation of the agency and in meeting certification mandates.

Council advertised unsuccessfully to hire a new police chief earlier this year before seeking assistance from the Virginia Association of Police Chiefs.

Also during the work session Tuesday night, council briefly discussed the Halifax County Library System, and Library Director Joe Zappacosta updated council on the library’s current situation.

The library has been experiencing a shortfall in funding for quite some time, the director said. 

He explained the library formerly was a regional library, and when it changed to a system, the funding structure changed also.  

Zappacosta said because of the change, the library lost much of its funding.

However, after employee insurance costs increased he was forced to cut the number of full-time employees to four. 

Zappacosta told council he wanted to make the Halifax branch library more functional.

Councils plans to continue the library discussion during its joint meeting with the Halifax County Board of Supervisors  and South Boston Town Council on Oct. 15.

Councils also discussed the Lower Banister Water Shed Implementation Plan.  The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is scheduled to present a clean up plan for the lower Banister River, Polecat Creek, and Sandy Creek at a community meeting Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. 

Currently all these streams have elevated concentrations of bacteria, and they have been working with local citizens and officials to find strategies to reduce sources of pollution from agricultural, residential and urban lands.

In other business, council also discussed the state scenic river designation for the Banister River. 

 Town Manager Carl Espy informed council that based on the evaluation conducted July 7 and 8, a 38.4 mile segment of the Banister River stretching from Route 640 in Pittsylvania County to the river’s confluence with the Dan River qualifies as a Virginia Scenic River. 

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is scheduled to give a presentation, and a resolution is slated for adoption at the Oct. 15 joint meeting between the town council and board of supervisors.

 Espy informed council he was currently working with Hill Studios on the design work for the Banister River Gateway Project and gave council an update on the correspondence from Kruger Energy on the Banister Dam improvements. 

According to Espy, the Halifax Hydro Project has not operated in the past three months because of the low water levels. Kruger is working with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for next spring’s independent assessment of the project, and further plans are being reviewed for facility upgrades.

Espy has requested information on the scope of improvements being considered and a timeline for when engineering, building and construction will be completed.

 The town manager also updated council on the Halifax Downtown Revitalization/ Town of Halifax Telecommunications Project noting in the next two to three weeks all the poles would be down.

He also updated council on the Dollar General store construction explaining developers are currently in negotiations with the Virginia Deapartment of Transportation and hope to have the store opened and completed by mid-October.

Espy updated council on a firm’s proposal to purchase a portion of the Halifax Farmers Market. Espy informed council a non-compete agreement has been provided, so council members canceled the close session previously planned to discuss this item.

 Also during the work session, Espy notified council certified letters would go out Wednesday for 10 of 14 derelict town properties. Residents of the derelict properties will have 45 days to vacate the premises after being notified before the town takes action.

Council also discussed the status of the Burlington property and the DHCD industrial revitalization fund grant.

 According to Espy, D. H. Griffin is the new owner of the property, and the building is in no condition to be reused. Plans for demolition are in the works.

Also during the Tuesday evening work session council heard a report from Events Coordinator Susi Robbins, received an update on Farmers Market activities and reviewed the August finance report.

Espy informed council that Creedle, Jones and Alga would perform the annual audit by the end of September eliminating the Halifax County Service Authority water and sewer from the books.