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Clarksville evaluates police staffing needs

SoVaNow.com / February 26, 2014
Clarksville Town Council members discussed the needs of the local police department during their February meeting.

Town Manager Jeff Jones said that several years ago, town officials decided to have police department protection 24 hours a day, seven day a week. The town also agreed to dedicate one officer to the the Drug Task Force.

To staff the department 24/7, Jones said it needs to have at least six dedicated patrol officers with rotating schedules, in addition to an officer assigned to the Drug Task Force, who serves more than just the residents of the town. Also, the payroll includes the police chief.

With Clarksville’s chief and one patrol officer on medical leave, five patrol officers are left to cover a town of 2.9 square miles, with two hotels, several restaurants, three bars, two grocery stores, four banks, and multiple business operating long hours. They also cover Clarksville Elementary.

In comparison, Chase City has seven dedicated patrol officers covering 2.2 square miles and South Hill has 18 officers covering 9.8 square miles. Lawrenceville, which most closely matches Clarksville in size and population, has five dedicated patrol officers covering a town that is only .9 square miles.

After analyzing all of the data, Jones concluded that the police department is not over-staffed, but may possibly need to add one more patrol officer. Any attempt to deplete the department will negatively impact service according to Jones.

In other business, Clarksville adopted a resolution marking February as Career & Technical Education Month.

The town agreed to enter into a lease agreement with Verizon Wireless for the water tower located on Burlington Drive beside HP. Verizon will pay $27,600 for the first year, increasing 3 percent each year thereafter for a minimum of ten years.

Verizon has the option to extend the lease, in five-year increments, for up to 40 years, and either party may terminate the agreement at the end of the initial term or at the end of each five-year extension.

After receiving bid responses that far exceed the amount of money available to expand and renovate the Clarksville branch of the Southside Regional Library, members of the library board and the town officials entered into negotiations JE Burton Construction Co. of South Boston, hoping to streamline the project.

Burton’s bid was the lowest of the three that were submitted at the bid opening earlier this month. According to the project consultants Dewberry & Davis, it is permissible for the town to negotiate directly with Burton as long as the scope of the project is not drastically changed.

There will be a public hearing on March 27 at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss the upcoming Southwest Downtown Community Improvement Project. This project will upgrade homes, and install sidewalks, sewers, and storm drains using money received from the USDA’s community development block grant program.

There are vacancies in the town’s Economic Development Authority and zoning appeals boards. Jones said anyone interested in serving on either board should contact him by March 11. Jones can be reached at town hall, 434-374-8177.

Operations Manager Richard Elliott said he and his staff continue to monitor Clarksville’s water quality following the coal ash spill in the Dan River. Working with him, here are staffers from the EPA, Duke Energy and Virginia Beach. “So far the testing has shown no significant amounts of ash,” said Elliott. In response to questions from Councilman Glenn Jurczyk, Elliott shared that to date the water quality testing has not cost the town, Duke Energy, federal EPA or Virginia Beach each took turns paying for the tests.

Elliott plans to attend an upcoming meeting with staff from the EPA, Duke Energy, and Danville’s water authority, among others, where they will discuss remediation and future efforts monitoring the lake.

Elliott reported that the pump station upgrade known as the Kinderton project is nearly complete, and work is progressing on the final phase of the downtown streetscape.

Acting Police Chief Bobby Boring reported that the number of calls being handled by his department has increased to “summer levels” since annexation took effects. The greatest number of additional calls are from “the Old Rock Road area and Lighthouse Motel.”

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