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Halifax supervisors tee up school borrowing of $135 million, employee pay raises

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Halifax County supes to meet Tuesday for talk on school, homelessness / September 06, 2021

The Halifax County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday night with a September business agenda that touches on school construction, housing for the homeless and other matters.

The board meeting has been moved back from the customary Monday meeting date due to the Labor Day holiday. The meeting begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the second floor meeting room of the Bethune Office Complex in Halifax.

The board’s agenda includes:

» A follow-up on an Aug. 31 finance committee meeting which delved into the future of Halifax County High School. Members of the committee, chaired by ED-2 supervisor Jeff Francisco, said they want to see further options for renovating the high school beyond the preliminary plans developed by a build-design team that is advising the School Board. That team, led by Roanoke-based partners Branch Builds Construction and RRMM Architects, has put forth plans for a new high school at a cost of around $123 million, or an extensive renovation-and-rebuild at a cost of $122 million.

While no action is recommended for the Tuesday night meeting, the Board of Supervisors will hold a joint meeting with the School Board in October to try to find consensus path forward on the high school. That joint meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the HCHS auditorium.

» Supervisors will also consider recommendations by the finance committee to purchase $10,775 in equipment to restart a countywide youth soccer league, and fund $3,000 bonuses for sheriff’s deputies whose salaries are not paid by the state. Deputies who are paid through the State Compensation Board are receiving $3,000 bonuses following action by the General Assembly in special session to raise law enforcement salaries.

The cost of paying the bonuses locally is $38,760, with the money coming out of pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress this spring.

Supervisors will also be asked to authorize $13,902.89 in budget carryover funds for use by the county health department to buy shingles vaccines.

» Ricky Whitlow with The Worship Center is set to make a presentation Tuesday asking the county to take part in the church’s efforts to establish apartment-style housing for the homeless. The Worship Center wants to convert the back hallway of its building — about 10,000 square feet — into housing space for homeless families and individuals, serving those in need of transitional housing and a refuge from domestic abuse.

“This ministry would serve the people of Halifax County during some of [their] most difficult times,” Whitlow wrote in a letter to the board.

The Worship Center is ready to put $30,000 into renovations, and is asking the county to cover the remaining cost of $430,000 — to replace a leaky section of roof, install new insulation, ceiling grid, lighting and ceiling tile, flooring and mechanical systems, and paint the building.

Whitlow emphasized in his letter to supervisors that “this will not be a homeless shelter” or a warming shelter, and will not be designated as transition housing for those re-entering society from prison. Instead, it will be “a safe and loving space for the people of Halifax County” going through hard times, with services “to coach and mentor them through this process,” Whitlow wrote.

» Supervisors also will hear a presentation by Freda Holliday on the Halifax County Drug Court, which graduated three program completers in August. Drug court participants undergo substance abuse counseling and other mentorship programs, as a way to avoid going to jail for committing non-violent drug offenses.

» Supervisors also are set to recognize a number of individuals and causes. Recognition is slated for Constitution Week and for Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week; for public works department retiree John Snead, who is stepping away after 23 years of service to the county; to late Halifax County Recreation Department director Brad Ballou; and to South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice, who is retiring this year after going to work for the local track in 1988 and rising to the job of general manager, one of the few women to lead a NASCAR-sanctioned speedway.

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