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Halifax County gets $3 mil in federal CARES funding

SoVaNow.com / May 18, 2020
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors, which convened on Friday instead of the regular meeting date at the beginning of month, agreed to accept nearly $3 million in federal funding to cover local government expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $2,985,604 in federal funding for Halifax County comes from the $2 trillion CARES Act, which was approved by Congress in March and signed into law by President Donald Trump. The funding is available through the end of December and must be used to cover expenses incurred due to the public health emergency arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Pandemic-related expenses must occur during the period that begins on March 1, and ends on Dec. 30. That timeframe lies mostly outside of the local budget cycle, which begins July 1 of each year and ends on June 30 of the following year.

“We will have to see what will qualify [as current and future expenses] and brainstorm with the town managers to best utilize the funds,” said County Administrator Scott Simpson, who added that the money cannot be used to replace lost tax and fee revenue to localities.

In other action at the Friday meeting, supervisors held a public hearing to consider a Special Use Permit for Good Hope Equestrian Training Center, which would be located on Wild Turkey Run off Mountain Road near the Town of Halifax. The owners of the company, Murray and Margaret Bass, addressed the project on speakerphone, while three citizens in attendance spoke in opposition due to the possible impact of the business on their unpaved road. After hearing from the speakers, supervisors decided to table a decision until the next meeting.

Wild Turkey Run “is very dusty when it is dry, and a commercial interest would reduce privacy, security, and quality of life for these residents,” said Edith Younger Edmunds, who lives on the unpaved road.

Keith Mitchell, another resident, told board members “the road desperately needs paving.”

In response, Margaret Bass said the operation would create little traffic on the road, and would help meet a community need for therapeutic care.

“The equestrian lessons would last for an hour, and [residents] could expect a car every two hours,” she said, adding, “I am surprised to hear the opposition.”

Murray Bass told supervisors, “The Good Hope Equestrian Training Center will provide an outlet to help the lives of those with intellectual, physical, and emotional conditions.” Bass added that he and his wife would be attending the next board meeting to speak about the project in person.

“Since there was no opposition at the planning commission meeting, I now feel a predicament,” said Chairman Hubert Pannell, in whose district the project would lie. He asked for and received a motion to table the permit request until the next meeting.

Also, to show appreciation for county staff, supervisors agreed to give unpaid time off to all Halifax County personnel for the next six Fridays, from May 22 to June 26. The lone dissenting vote was cast by ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon, who urged board members to instead give a monetary gift of $500 per employee to recognize their work to cope with the effects of the pandemic.

Brandon’s suggestion would cost the county $68,000, a proposal the board rejected, citing current economic uncertainties.

The Fridays off will give county employees time to shop early in the morning for essential products like milk and toilet paper and take a break from finding day care. “All offices will be closed at the same time to avoid disjointed services,” said Simpson.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m.



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