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HCSA lays out mission, sets goals at two-day retreat

SoVaNow.com / November 19, 2012
The Halifax County Service Authority spent seven hours Friday and Saturday honing its mission statement and establishing goals for the future of the water and sewer system.

With guidance from county native Michelle Jones, a strategic planner with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the seven-member HCSA board hashed out priorities and objectives during a two-day retreat Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

The board adopted as its formal mission statement, “To provide quality water and wastewater services that meet all applicable standards at a reasonable cost to satisfy the needs of existing and future customers.

How to best achieve those priorities — and identify new customers — animated the board’s discussions.

Safety, reliability, cost effectiveness, conservation and efficiency all emerged as concerns among directors, who were joined in their discussions by HCSA Executive Director Willie Jones, Operations Manager Mark Estes and staff member Arnetta Roberts.

One prominent topic of conversation was the level of fire protection offered by the HCSA. Directors were informed of a survey showing that some 30 fire hydrants do not work in the urban area, including 20 in the Town of South Boston. The board asked that more emphasis be placed on fixing that problem.

Directors also endorsed a workforce management program to ensure the Authority has the right people in the right jobs to ensure success. They agreed to create training and development opportunities for employees with the implementation of a pay and performance plan, as well as spell out a plan for the succession of the Authority workforce when vacancies occur.

Another stated goal is to develop an effective asset management program for construction, operations, maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement of equipment.

Directors will begin work in January to develop a three-year management plan, with an eye towards prioritizating projects such as the conversion of the Cowford Road wastewater plant in Halifax, and reviewing the condition of some of the system’s water tanks.

Another major topic of discussion was how to improve customer relations. The board decided to add public comment periods at its monthly meetings to give the public the opportunity to voice any concerns it might have. The HCSA also will provide customer comment surveys with monthly bills and make the questionaires available at the HCSA office in Houghton Park.

The board also pledged to continue to work with local industrial development representatives to ensure that information is disseminated to IDA boards and industrial and business customers. Directors also agreed to attend upcoming joint meetings of county supervisors and members of South Boston and Halifax town councils.

Michelle Jones with VDHCD congratulated the directors on the work they have put in over the past several years, noting that Halifax County has done well in establishing the Authority, which ties together three separate systems that previously operated in the county.

“Now you have a road map to guide your thinking which you will have to update regularly,” she told board members.

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