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Halifax County Courthouse issues and more up for discussion / December 03, 2018

The Halifax County Board of Supervisors will meet tonight with decisions to make on the Courthouse Renovation Project and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, a new solid waste collection center for the Turbeville area, and many other matters.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Bethune Office Complex second floor meeting room in Halifax. It is open to the public.

Among the major items on the agenda, supervisors will be asked to approve three work change orders for the Courthouse project’s general contractor, Blair Construction. The orders arise in part with the board’s decision to demolish rather than try to renovate the annex building where General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court are housed.

After inspections revealed significant structural damage to the 1960s-era annex building, supervisors agreed to tear it down rather than go forward with planned renovations. However, the three work orders do not change the overall $20 million budget for the entire courthouse project, as previously approved by county supervisors.

That $20 million budget also includes money to update the century-old building where the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney has been housed. The prosecutor’s office has been moved into temporary quarters on Edmunds Boulevard while reconstruction of the historic courthouse square takes place.

Interim County Administrator Dan Sleeper is slated to make a presentation tonight on the options for the dilapidated Commonwealth’s Attorney building, which has been labeled a workplace hazard by Tracy Quackenbush Martin, the county’s chief prosecutor. In notes to board members, Sleeper said he has been working on modifications to the courthouse plan to add the office to the main complex.

The existing Commonwealth’s Attorney building is part of the courthouse square but it stands separate from the main building and is physically connected only by a walkway.

Also tonight:

» Supervisors will consider their next steps for establishing a trash collection center in the Turbeville area following a lengthy discussion of the matter at the November meeting. Board members are looking at the costs of building a new convenience center to replace the green box site at the Turbeville Ruritan Club.

Before seeking bids for the construction of a new convenience center on U.S. 58, supervisors will need to develop a plan for the facility — a step that will cost some $5,500 in engineering and design fees, Sleeper has advised members. He will ask the supervisors to approve a supplemental budget appropriation to pay for the work.

» Supervisors are considering the creation of a new Office of Economic Development, operating under the county administrator, to work with the Industrial Development Authority on an economic development plan for Halifax County. The framework would also include the town IDAs.

In the meeting packet provided to supervisors beforehand, Sleeper writes that the “best program [for economic development] is to look around at the success of surrounding counties with their program which works in the area.” Other localities have had success with an economic development office that works with both the Board of Supervisors and IDA in recruiting new industries, Sleeper notes.

The proposed motion to establish the new office says it would work to “eliminate the barriers and expand economic growth in Halifax County.” It would be paid for using already-appropriated funds in the county budget.

» Board members also will consider the creation of a Regional Industrial Facilities Authority (RIFA) to oversee the marketing of Virginia International Raceway’s Motorplex business park to corporate and industrial prospects.

Faced with a need to upgrade water capacity at the popular road racing venue and Motorplex park, Halifax is looking to enter into an agreement with the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County to provide municipal water to replace the track’s troubled well-water system. The RIFA would allow the localities to also work together on marketing the Motorplex park and share the revenues and expenses that result from new businesses taking advantage of infrastructure improvements there.

Halifax and the partner localities will be seeking grants and low-interest loans to pay for water line extensions to VIR. The motion pending before supervisors is to negotiate a revenue sharing agreement with Danville and Pittsylvania County for the regional marketing authority.

» Carrying over another item of business from November, supervisors will consider a franchise renewal of 10 years, rather than 15 years as originally proposed, for the local Comcast cable TV franchise.

» Board members also will decide whether and how to craft a pump-and-haul wastewater removal ordinance in Halifax County — which Sleeper has recommended limiting to non-residential customers.

» Supervisors also are slated to hear from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s John Lee and Dewayne Long on efforts to build a fiber optic broadband network in Halifax County. MEC is laying an ultra-high speed broadband internet network in the regional service area under its EMPOWER subsidiary. Lee and Long are expected to seek the county’s support for a grant application for money to pay for the system.

The Board of Supervisors’ meeting tonight will be held in open session, except for portions dealing with personnel, legal and sensitive business matters as exempted under Virginia’s open meetings law.

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