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Animal shelter approved / September 11, 2013
The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved the Lake Country SPCA’s request to rezone approximately two acres of land on the west side of Highway 15 South to serve as the home of a new animal shelter.

“This has been a long time coming and they have waited a long time to find the perfect place, and I think this is a good location for the SPCA as well as the animals,” said Gregg Gordon said in support of the rezoning request.

Supervisors also agreed to rezone 137 acres owned by Mecklenburg County near Ridge Road and Old Cox Road in Boydton, from agricultural to M1 industrial. The county purchased the property two months ago for a proposed industrial site.

One additional 10 acre site near Greenhouse Road in Clarksville was rezoned from agricultural to B1. When asked about the request, Gordon speculated that the owners, who currently have the property on the market, felt that a B1 zoning would make the property more marketable.

After tentatively agreeing to grant the Tobacco Heritage Trail an easement on county-owned property located on Prison Road, supervisors learned they must hold a public hearing before finalizing the easement. If approved, the land will become part of the Tobacco Heritage Trail’s Boydton trailhead, which will offer parking and public access to the trail near Boydton.

The public hearing will be held during the October monthly meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

The annexation dispute between Clarksville and Mecklenburg County has effectively ended with the supervisors’ unanimous approval of the amended annexation agreement, which expands Clarksville’s town boundaries by 669.09 acres.

After supervisors voted to affirm the agreement, county attorney Russell Slayton explained the next steps in the process. “A petition will be filed with Circuit Court. After which the Supreme Court will appoint a 3-judge panel who will conduct a hearing much like the one held by the Commission [on Local Government]. They will then issue their findings, which will include an effective date[the date the County property will become part of the town of Clarksville]. It could be as soon as Dec. 31 of this year. That may or may not prove to be optimistic. If that doesn’t work it would be June 30, 2014. Next year.”

In other business, Registrar Jason Corwin updated supervisors on happenings in his office. First he shared “good news. Voter ID’s are staying the same this year. Any ID they [the voter] used last year, they can use this year.

He also made a plea for poll workers, encouraging all interested parties to contact him.

In response to concerns raised by both the Supervisors and members of the public, Corwin said, “Now we don’t send out any literature, but our job is to send sample ballots, and we send them out to all the newspapers.” The same information is also available on the Registrar’s Facebook page

or by sending an email request. “Anyone who wants sample ballots or updates from our office, can send us their email address and 45 days out we will send them sample ballots, said Corwin.

He expects voter check in to go much more quickly this year and for future elections now that the board has electronic poll books and scanners to read voter cards. They are also looking into relocating one of two election precincts that vote at the American Legion Hall in South Hill. Corwin says this move should eliminate the congestion and confusion that had voters waiting in line for over two hours during the last election.

Finally, the board is looking into purchasing new voting machines. Having looked at six different machine types and ruled out five, Corwin said “We are continuing to look, but are not purchasing yet. We are waiting to see if the State will pay for these.” County Administrator said he too had cautioned Corwin against buying new machines without first waiting to see whether the State would provide funding. “The last time the state ordered new voting machines they paid 100 percent of the cost,” said Carter.

Supervisor Dan Tanner asked, “where are we at with respect to the towns holding elections in November instead of May?” Corwin answered, “Since the law change only Brodnax switched to a November election. “It doesn’t cost the County any additional money when town elections are in May” since the cost for those election are borne by each town.

Supervisors approved the purchase of a new refuse truck at the landfill at a cost of $209,423, and gave $45,690 to the Lake Country Airport Commission to help pay to clear and grade approximately six acres of land owned by the commission in preparation for constructing new T-hangars on the site. The state is paying 80 percent ($182,760) of the cost for the airport project, and the County is paying 20%.

Billy Smith, regional head of VDOT reported that paving is nearly complete on Esnon Road. The project came in on time and on budget.

Supervisors agreed to seek economic development funds from the Tobacco Commission to pay for a series of engineering and geological studies and reports for both the Roanoke River Business Park and Lakeside Commerce Park. According to Carter, the County will be in a better position to market these industrial sites to perspective customers, if the customer does not have to pay for or conduct the studies. The total cost for the project is $83,316, but the County’s share is only $8,316. The balance of $74,844 will be paid from the Tobacco Commission grant money.

Supervisors are also seeking an additional $1.2 million from the Tobacco Commission to erect a shell building in the Roanoke River Regional Park. The Mecklenburg County IDA believes the shell building will make the industrial park and the County more attractive to potential industrial tenants.

The balance of the $2.5 million total cost for the project will be paid by the Mecklenburg County IDA.

Samuel Piercy was reappointed to the County Planning Commission, Ronnie Wells was reappointed to the Lake Country Area Agency on Aging Board of Directors, David Brankley, Dan Tanner, Brenda Hatcher, Wayne Carter, Richard Walker, Samuel Piercy, William Park, and Andy Hargrove were all reappointed to the Lake Country Development Corporation, and David Brankley and Dan Tanner were reappointed to the Lake Country Development Corporation Board of Directors.

During the Board members comments, Supervisor David Brankley expressed displeasure with a memo from he said the Superintendent sent out prohibiting the Gideon Society from distributing Bibles in the schools. “This is something that has been done for ten plus years,” he said, and “it was not that the Bibles were forced on children, they were set on a table in the classrooms for students to pick up if they wanted one.”

According to Brankley, Thornton banned the practice on advice of the school board’s legal counsel.

When asked his thoughts on the ban, School Trustee Glenn Edwards, who was present at the meeting, told Supervisors that attorney offered no such edict. Instead, he claimed the attorney left it up to the school to handle the matter, with the caveat that no child should be forced to accept a bible, and school personnel should not comment on or direct the students to the Bibles.

Brankley advised Thornton, who was not present to hear the discussion, “Don’t be scared. I am sure the people of this County will back you. If we have to go to Court I say let’s go, and don’t forget the first thing we will have to do when we get there is raise our right hand and swear on the Bible to tell the truth and nothing else but the truth so help me God.”

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