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Mecklenburg County gets funds to pave 15 rural roads / June 16, 2021

Residents who live on Greenwood, Bowers, Allgoods and Staunton River roads turned out for the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night to learn whether their roads would be recommended for paving under the county’s current Six-Year Road Improvement Plan.

David Brankley, who chairs the secondary roads committee, said VDOT has awarded Mecklenburg nearly $3.4 million for road surfacing work over the next six years. It is by far the most money the county has received in more than a decade, he said, and will allow for the paving of portions of 15 roadways.

Tommy Johnson, VDOT resident manager in South Hill, said the work will take place over the next six years. The next road to be paved will be Staunton River Road followed by Willards Mill Road.

Speakers living on Bowers, Allgoods, and Staunton River Road thanked the supervisors for including their road on the plan.

Each year the Board of Supervisors updates its Six-Year Road Improvement Plan, based on funding received from VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation). The roads included in the plan come from one of two lists: the old six-year plan, developed more than a decade ago, and a new list that ranks unpaved roads in Mecklenburg County by traffic count.

Supervisors alternate between the two lists when selecting which roads to recommend for paving, with as many of the top roads from each list added to the plan.

Several residents from Greenwood Road asked if it was possible for their road to be paved. They were told that the last traffic count conducted in 2019 reported around 40 cars per day travelled the road. To be considered for paving a road must have a minimum count of 50 cars per day.

Margarite Smith said that had she known that she would continue to live on a dirt road more than a decade after moving from Halifax to Mecklenburg County, she never would have moved. She added that “it is no fun having dirty vehicles” and added that “it is not fair” that other roads which she perceived as having less traffic were already paved while Greenwood Road remained a gravel road.

It costs approximately $155,000 per mile for the rural rustic upgrades to each unpaved road. County Administrator Wayne Carter said unless the traffic count increases on her road and VDOT awards additional paving dollars to Mecklenburg County, it is unlikely that Greenwood Road would be paved anytime in the near future.

Joe Cherry said he was not appearing before the board to discuss paving, but wondered what if anything supervisors could do to alleviate the litter problem along the county’s secondary roads.

“You have over $13 million in capital expenditures [allocated] for buildings and grounds. Why can’t you pick up litter?” he asked, adding that the “county is becoming a disgrace.”

In other business Jimmy Walters, a member of the Roanoke River Rails to Trails committee, updated supervisors on plans for the expansion of the Tobacco Heritage Trail in the Boydton area. The rails-to-trails committee is applying for a VDOT Transportation Alternative grant to cover the cost of extending the trail from Skipwith Road in Boydton to Rudds Creek. This will be the first opportunity for the trail to connect with the lake.

The estimated cost for the project is $1,635,371. If the VDOT grant comes through, 80 percent of the cost will be covered. The trails committee also is seeking around $328,000 from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation through a recreation and trails conservation grant to cover the remaining 20 percent of the construction costs.

Walters asked supervisors to commit funds to help maintain the trails which sees an average usage of about nine people per day. Carter estimated it would cost the county about $25,000 per year to maintain the 2.5 miles of trail between Skipwith Road and Rudds Creek.

With the exception of David Brankley, who cast the lone “no” vote, supervisors agreed to fund the maintenance request. They made clear that the support is contingent on Rails to Trails receiving both the VDOT and the DCR grants.

» In other business, supervisors agreed to hire Timmons Group to conduct a site search for potential industrial park sites. After selling most of the land in the county’s three industrial parks to Microsoft at the end of 2020, Mecklenburg County owns just one industrial park, the Kinderton Technology Park near Clarksville.

Under the terms of the contract Timmons Group will identify multiples sites of 100 acres or more for future development.

They have six months to complete the survey at a cost of $97,500.

» Smiley’s Construction was awarded a contract to build a new convenience center for receiving trash on Pen Road near Clarksville. While they were not the lowest bidder for the project, Carter recommended awarding the contract to them since J.R. Price Construction — the lowest bid — did not include a bid bond with its submission.

Smiley Construction will be paid $727,649 for the construction work that will begin later this year. Carter said the property of the adjoining landowner on Sullivan Road “will be cleaned up this fall.”

» Supervisors agreed to a recommendation by Zoning Administrator Robert Hendrick to increase the fees assessed for erosion and sediment control. Hendrick said he checked with neighboring counties which charges fees that range from $25 to $145 for single family homes and $200 per month for commercial/solar projects.

Supervisors agreed to hold a hearing to receive public input on whether to charge a fee $50 for erosion and sediment control for single-family homes under construction and $200 per month for commercial/solar projects through the proposed completion date of the project and $400 per month thereafter. The hearing will take place at the board’s regular monthly meeting in July.

» Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols updated supervisors on the construction of Mecklenburg County’s consolidated secondary school. He said the project is on schedule and on budget. When asked by Tom Tanner about transportation needs, Nichols said the school division had lost about 40 percent of its existing bus and car drivers. That is why existing drivers are being asked to double up on their routes. In the coming school year they will pick up secondary students first for a school start time of 7:15 a.m., followed by elementary students whose school start time is 8 a.m.

Nichols said the school division is continuing to look for ways to expand its driver pool but inasmuch Mecklenburg is not the only county facing this driver shortage, competition for qualified drivers is steep.

» William Voohies was appointed to the Mecklenburg County Public Library Board to replace Vin Montgomery who retired from the board.

» Supervisors adopted a resolution honoring Dr. David Brown, an emergency department physician at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill upon his retirement after serving more than 25 years as the medical director for local volunteer rescue squads.

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