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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: April 2

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Uncollected tax problem

To the editor:

The talk about raising the county real estate tax began as soon as the slightly lowered 2014 tax assessment was published. 

To throw in a few big words, the county is to maintain a “revenue neutral real estate tax rate.” Without the increase, the county budget will threaten to be out of balance. 

My question is, with the 10 plus years of the county real estate boom prior to the recession, how many times did the county property owners see a reduction in their tax rate. 

One small plot of land out of the town limits was taxed at $50.36 in 2004. It was taxed at $100.77 in 2013. It is 200 percent of tax in nine years, recession or not. 

How about the 3-4 million dollars back owed tax in real estate which the county has not collected?

The actual debt is much larger, but the county can only go back a limited number of years to collect it. Even though the county plans a budget every year, we did not hear about the year-end outcome, with a significant portion of the budgeted tax revenue uncollected. 

Would the proposed increase in the real estate tax rate exacerbate the problem of uncollected tax?

Alice Rhett

Alton

 

 

Week of the Young Child

To the editor:

Young children in South Boston and Halifax County deserve the best that we can give them.

Week of the Young Child April 6-12 is a time to recognize the needs of young children and thank the adults involved in their education and care. Parents, teachers, caregivers and other adults play important roles in the lives of young children, and Week of the Young Child celebrates their efforts.

We can show support for early learning in our community by promoting early literacy programs, thanking teachers who care for our children and working to ensure that our public policies support early learning for all young children.

Week of the Young Child TM is a time to remind us that Early Years are Learning Years.

Sincerely,

Edwina Gill

Coordinator Smart Beginnings Southside

 

My prayer

To the editor:

As an Episcopalian, prayer, both personal and corporate, is an important part of my religious belief and practice. In America, since 1789, The Book of Common Prayer has served as a devotional resource for Episcopalians. 

In fact, The Book of Common Prayer outlines procedures for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Holy Eucharist and many other services included in our denomination. 

Recently, five of our youth prepared for our Sunday worship service the “Prayers of the People.”

I was so impressed with their words and thoughts that I want to share them with you. 

They are as follows:

 “In peace, let us pray to the Lord,

For all Christians everywhere, especially those in danger,

For all people seeking Christ,

For the Congress, the President, the Governor of Virginia, the General Assembly, Town Councils and Boards of Supervisors,

For the judges in our country, who seek to do justice in your name,

For peace in the world, especially in Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq,

For the sick and the suffering, in body, mind or spirit and for those who care for them,

For the poor and the homeless, the hungry and the lonely,

For those who serve or have served our country at home or abroad, especially those who are casualties or missing in action,

For those who have died in the hope of the resurrection, may they rest in peace and rise in glory; and we pray for their family members that they may have peace. 

God of Light, hear our prayers and give us strength to put aside our cares as we follow you.” Amen. 

What a wonderful world this would be if we all could join these teenagers in asking for all that they have deemed important at their young age. 

Fortunately, we can on Thursday, May 1, as we observe locally the National Day of Prayer. This nondenominational program begins at 6:45pm in the Halifax County High School auditorium and gives us the chance to become one voice united in prayer. 

As a member of the planning committee, I hope that you will mark your calendars and plan to attend this evening of worship with your family and friends. That is my prayer, and I close with this thought:

 “We, who are many and diverse, can come together in Christ through our worship, our common prayer.” 

Larry D. Clark

Vestry, Trinity Episcopal Church

Member, Planning Committee NDP

 

A rock and a hard place

To the editor:

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia turned out to be quite a success story.

No major problems, the security was good, and even the leader of Russia, Putin came across cool, calm and collected.

However things have changed with Russian troops moving in all over the Ukraine. No one expected this to happen, and Putin even added Crimea to Russia. 

This course of action has definitely become a threat to the rest of the world. 

Putin shows no fear of the United States and other countries by his brazen actions. He even laughs at the threat of U.S. sanctions. 

We are between a rock and a hard place in this dilemma. 

Paul DuPont

Halifax

 

Game play

To the editor:

Every once in a while you see or hear a commercial that goes something like this:  “Those whose last names start with A through M can start calling in for this or that deal tomorrow, others can start calling the next day.”  What they want you to believe is that they are offering such a great deal that they cannot handle all the orders at once.  

By pretending that they won’t accept your order immediately, they are creating the illusion that the buyer must act quickly.  Fast buyers usually live to regret that they did not consider all aspects of their decision. Often they find they could have gotten a better deal had they dug into the details first.

This is exactly what happened with Congress when they passed the Affordable Care Act or what is frequently referred to as Obamacare. After that rushed vote, citizens started finding the hidden costs and the many taxes, fees and fines. 

Now the same game play is being run in Virginia. Big talk about saving Virginia taxpayers a billion dollars is bundled with public employee raises, and promises of free healthcare. Making it even better, they are calling it a two-year test. What a great sounding deal! But just like the sales pitch to consumers above and to American citizens above, it is probably best to slow the process down and look at the various pieces one at a time.

First let’s look at the billion dollar savings. The fact checking organization Politifacts debunked that figure and determined the savings would actually be less than half that. That is still a lot, therefore, we should consider the possibility of expansion further.

There have been reports that those who benefit from this program would range between 250,000 and 400,000. That is a wide gap. Wouldn’t it make sense to better focus on who would and should qualify?  

Assuming that at least 400,000 would apply, (but more likely one million since they could get free healthcare,) who would screen these applicants? Currently Virginia’s Social Service offices are understaffed. With a possible 1,000 new applicants or more requesting service in many of our counties, the proper application and verification process could take up to two years. How can or will this issue be addressed more promptly?

Currently many healthcare providers in rural areas are seeing as many patients as they can schedule. Medicaid reimburses those providers less than insured patients and less than Medicare patients.  Promising those going on Medicaid free service does not assure them they will be able to see a provider.  What is being done to address this issue as we move forward? 

The House of Delegates has decided to investigate first. The Senate Democrats appear ready to follow the Washington plan; pass something first, then figure out how to make the parts fit the concept.

We would like to hear from you. You can contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 434-374-5129, or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA  23927.

Sen. Frank Ruff

Clarksville

 

Drop animal products from menu

To the editor:

TV host Glenn Beck and other stalwarts of the Christian right have attacked the recent blockbuster “Noah” as being “pro-animal” and unfaithful to the Bible. Well, yes and no. The film is both pro-animal and faithful to the Bible, at least to the Book of Genesis, our only source for the story of Noah.

After all, Genesis 1:29 admonishes “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit —to you it shall be for food.” 

It is only after the flood, with fruits and vegetables no longer abundant, that humans get permission to eat animal flesh. 

Even then, the Bible stipulates that lives of only select animals may be taken and always with reverence and minimal cruelty. This is certainly a far cry from today’s factory farm and slaughterhouse practices. 

Regardless of how we may feel about “Noah’s” interpretation of the Bible, each of us can recreate the recommended diet of the Garden of Eden in our home by dropping animal products from our menu.

Sincerely, 

Gary Veitzmann

Alton

 

In support of SSCSB

To the editor:

Halifax County citizens remain largely unaware of the presence and mission of the Southside Community Services Board (SSCSB) because the board’s services are rendered on a confidential basis and thus are not topics of general conversation. 

At the March 24 meeting of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors the SSCSB and local law enforcement introduced their Mental Health Crisis Response partnership. March 27 the State Inspector General released the Report of the Critical Incident Investigation of the Bath County Nov. 18 family mental health crisis that ended in tragedy for State Senator Creigh Deeds and his family. Perhaps these events will launch the conversation.

Citizens readily connect police, emergency services, first responders and 911 with public safety without the full realization that mental illness is a substantial progenitor of these very safety problems. Our prisons, jails, juvenile facilities and judicial systems are overwhelmingly populated by offenders who are mentally ill or intellectually disabled (formerly termed mental retardation.)

SSCSB is a cooperative venture of Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties originating in 1972. The most critical responsibility for CSBs is the provisioning of community mental health services. Except for institutional care, public mental health services falls entirely within the purview of Virginia’s 40 CSBs. Public safety demands that our CSBs be prepared to respond to emergency situations around the clock with evaluative services provided by highly skilled professionals. 

Adults, children and families receive services for mental illness, substance abuse and intellectual disabilities. An infant and toddler program provides early intervention services to children from birth to 3 years with disabilities or developmental delays. 

CSBs participate in discharge planning for the eventual release of hospitalized psychiatric patients returning to the community with their mental health services plan established. 

CSBs play a key role in the facilitation of Temporary Orders of Detention Orders (TDO) and Emergency Custody Orders (ECO.) (2013 South Boston Police handled 56 ECOs and 25 TDO Transports to a psychiatric hospital unit.) The SSCSB also partners with the Wounded Warriors Project which provides mental health services to Virginia veterans and their families.

CSBs are funded with federal funds, state funds, local matching funds, grants, Medicaid, Medicare, individual insurance, fees charged to individuals and contributions. 

The Code of Virginia establishes the rate of state and local funding in a 90 percent — 10 percent respective match. If a locality cannot pay its 10 percent match, a provision exists to allow a CSB to beg an exception to the state on behalf of a local unit facing extreme financial hardship to receive a waiver of its responsibilities for the full 10 percent. 

I find it discomforting in the realization that we in Halifax County have, for whatever reason, not accepted our rightful obligation to support our sensitive and valuable community responsibilities. 

Our shame is compounded by the fact that in the same budgetary periods in which a waiver has been granted, the county has funded highly discretionary requests for recreation and arts programs. However, it is very encouraging to note that the county will add an additional $25,000 to the previous years $67,450 for a total of $92,500 of the state 10 percent match of $145,230 for 2014-2015. This increase from 46 percent to 64 percent demonstrates a good faith move in the right direction.

SSCSB meetings, announced in several local newspapers, are open to the public. The CSB website, sscsb.org, posts the minutes of meetings and other useful information. 

I am the parent of an adult child served by SSCSB. The quality of services provided to her are second to none. Halifax County CSB staff is an extraordinary team of unsung heroes working quietly behind the scenes to provide support to our most vulnerable citizens.

Fully funding Halifax County’s 10 percent match is a legal, moral and civic responsibility. 

Sincerely,

Elsie May Gladding, 

Halifax County Board Member 

Southside Community Services