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Halifax Council focuses on growth of all kinds

SoVaNow.com / November 14, 2019
Halifax Town Council touched on issues from community revitalization to kudzu in a wide-ranging work session discussion and monthly Council meeting on Tuesday night.

The work session began with Michael Trent, chairman of the business development committee, offering an update on “Here’s Halifax,” the comprehensive plan to revitalize the town of Halifax. Trent described the plan as exciting and said it would help the Town of Halifax move forward with concrete ideas for business development and improving the quality of life locally.

Towards that end, the town sponsored a recent social media discussion, a Facebook Deep Dive workshop, to solicit ideas from townspeople and business owners on how to improve Halifax’s business climate.

The Nov. 4 online discussion drew the participation of 16 people, all who were very engaged and asked a lot of questions, according to Denise Barksdale, assistant town manager.

“The Facebook Deep Dive was a great event for small businesses,” she said.

Trent said the process has yielded ideas for Council to consider, once they have been refined. “A committee needs to be appointed,” he said.

“These tasks must keep in mind the attainable finances on hand,” interjected Council member Bill Confroy.

Council members on Tuesday also received a formal introduction to Brian Brown, the new executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, a job once held by Confroy. Brown said he was eager to join the Halifax County IDA in part because of the “great collaboration between the towns.”

“Glad you are onboard,” said Confroy.

The IDA will meet this Friday to plan a retreat to work on the strategic plan for Halifax County. Brown said he plans to attend meetings of Halifax Town Council on a quarterly basis to keep council members abreast of ongoing developments with the IDA.

In other business, Barksdale offered reminders on upcoming events in town, including Christmas Open House and Children’s Gift Giving Bazaar on Sunday, Nov. 17, Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30, and the Children’s Christmas Parade and town tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 1.

Trent thanked the Halifax Village Association for its hard work in moving Halifax’s Trick or Treat event inside the World of Sports due to storm danger on Halloween night. At least 1,300 people attended the relocated event with the line of trick or treaters extending outside, past Cinemas 1 & 2, and out towards Highway 58.

“Lots of people rely on what we do for Halloween,” said Trent.

Jean Bainbridge received the town’s lamppost decorating award. She also decorates Carl the Dinosaur, the metallic sculpture in front of the town library, appropriately for the holidays.

In other business, the town’s annual financial audit will be completed by the end of the year, and the Town Office will be gaining a new computer server with the upgrade to Windows 10 systems software. The new server is needed to ensure software compliance once the upgrade is completed.

Speaking for the Current Issues Committee, which he chairs, Confroy said that he, fellow Council member Jack Dunavant and Town Manager Carl Espy recently met with a representative for Norfolk Southern railroad to discuss leveling the bump at the train tracks entering downtown. Confroy said Norfolk Southern and VDOT will take part in follow-up talks on the matter.

Espy said the town is preparing to move forward with the VDOT Smart Scale Project to improve the corner of Mountain Road and Main Street where the Halifax War Memorial is located. The project, spurred in part by streetscape alterations with the courthouse renovations, should begin after May to avoid any disruption of Memorial Day events at the war memorial, Espy said.

Dunavant brought up the subject of properties on Mountain Road that have been overrun by kudzu, asking whether the town can issue citations against the owners and what public notices would be required before the town can take action. This touched off a lengthy discussion on how the town should deal with the invasive weed.

“Send the sanitation guys when [they are] not busy to spray a little kudzu,” said Dunavant.

That suggestion prompted a note of caution from Trent. The town “does not need to be liable” for potential damages from any eradication effort, said Trent, citing recent lawsuits involving the use of Roundup, a popular herbicide.

Confroy suggested that the town could try to “find a state agency” that will help because the town does not have the financial wherewithal to attack kudzu. Trees covered in kudzu could die from herbicide treatments, exposing the town to unforeseen damages and expenses.

The work session proceeded without comment from the public and members then shifted into the regular monthly meeting.

In the main item of business, Council authorized Espy to go forward with a grant application to USDA Rural Development for funding to purchase two vehicles for the town police department, both SUVs, and a 4x4 sanitation vehicle.

Also, Espy said Town Hall received a thank you letter from Ted Daniels for the town’s donation to help fund the Walkway of Honor, a brick footpath at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. The campaign to recognize Southside Virginia veterans at the Virginia War Memorial has raised 80 percent of its $100,000 goal.

Halifax Town Council will meet next on Dec. 10 for a holiday social along with the monthly work session and regular meeting.

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