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Mecklenburg County to ax two dumpster sites, build trash convenience center / March 13, 2019
In a short business meeting Monday night, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors agreed to eliminate two roadside dumpster sites on the eastern end of Mecklenburg County and create a new manned solid waste convenience center on the western end to reduce the amount of trash often left at unmanned green box locations.

When the convenience center on U.S. 58 across from Park View High School was built outside of South Hill, the county removed all unmanned roadside dumpsters from several locations — but left one at Highway 1 near the former Hamby’s convenience store, and another near Steel Bridge on Lake Gaston.

Because of that decision, County Administrator Wayne Carter told supervisors, “We have had continual issues with these two sites, Hamby’s Store and Steel Bridge.” On Carter’s recommendation, board members agreed Monday to remove the roadside dumpsters and place signage at these sites instructing nearby residents to use the manned convenience center near Park View.

To alleviate trash issues in western Mecklenburg, Supervisors Gregg Gordon and Andy Hargrove were tasked with finding a location for a manned convenience center near Clarksville. They asked board members to approve a convenience center for Pen Road, on land that currently serves as an unmanned site. Carter said he’s already been in contact with Richmond-based Golder Associates, the company that designed the county’s existing two manned sites near South Hill and Chase City, about the proposed Clarksville-area center.

“They are working on a proposal for the site, which we will have for the April board meeting. [County] staff would like the site to have four roll-offs and space for approximately 20 dumpsters,” Carter explained.

In other business, supervisors approved a request by the School Board to spend $150,000 from the school textbook fund to purchase new elementary math books, $242,409 in federal funds to pay for programs to improve academic achievement and digital literacy of all students, and an additional $65,320 from the operations and maintenance budget to pay for new safety equipment at the elementary schools.

The $242,409 in federal funds and the $65,302 in operations and maintenance money come from federal grants obtained by the school division, and do not come out of local tax dollars. The $150,000 textbook expenditure taps funds held in escrow by the supervisors. The textbook fund has a current balance of $486,000.

Board members also appropriated $8,900.50 to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and agreed to spend $15,395 to repair the railing at the back of the Circuit Court building in Boydton.

The $8,900.50 was reimbursement to the Sheriff’s Office from VACORP to cover the cost of damage to two deputy vehicles. The $15,395 will be paid to Dale Wilson, a Red Oak general contractor, to design and construct a new railing system using treated lumber that will, as close as possible, match the existing railing design. Carter said the current railing is less than five years old, and despite being made from cedarwood it is showing signs of rot.

The county administrator received guidance from the board as he begins preparation of the county budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, which starts July 1. Carter noted that the General Assembly approved funding to provide three percent raises for SOQ (Standards of Quality) teachers, with the condition that each county contribute a two percent match, for a total pay increase of five percent. According to Carter, Mecklenburg County typically grants cost-of-living pay hikes equally to all employees of the school system and county office, not just those positions funded by the state.

Carter said that the school division is asking for a three percent raise for all school personnel and money to adjust the salary scale, which would roughly equal a five percent salary increase.

Board members recommended that Carter prepare a budget with the five percent increase for all county personnel, and also try to fund the School Board’s salary scale adjustment plan without raising current tax rates.

During board member comments, several supervisors — including David Brankley, Claudia Lundy and Andy Hargrove — expressed their desire for the FY2020 budget to include additional money for teacher salaries. Brankley expressed hope that it was within the budget “to get this thing [teacher pay] straightened out, because we have done that for other organizations in our county” — bringing pay scales up to par with those in neighboring localities.

“We’re getting a quality school sometime soon, so therefore we need quality teachers and we need to up our teacher salaries, because some that are here now will be gone even with the new schools and we’ll be back where we are looking for more teachers,” Lundy said.

Also, Gordon gave Carter advance notice that the Lake Country Regional Airport in Clarksville would be coming to the county for money to repair the airport runways. The state has approved a grant request for the $1.1 million project with a pledge to provide 80 percent of the funding. It is up to the county to supply the additional 20 percent — approximately $220,000.

France Environmental, based in Richmond, was awarded a contract to survey the shuttered Buckhorn Elementary School building for hazardous materials, including asbestos, ahead of demolition. The survey will cost $12,050 and include specifications for handling all regulated materials found inside the building.

Carter was told to work up bid documents for a design firm that will develop plans to renovate the former Regional Library, also known as the Bruce Library building, at 316 Washington Street in Boydton. The building will become the new home for the county’s voter registration office.

Registrar Jason Corwin said his office needs additional space to accommodate voters coming to the office now that the General Assembly has approved no-excuse absentee voting, beginning with the 2020 General Election. This past year, nearly 1,400 voters cast early ballots in person. Corwin expects that number to increase by more than 300 percent, based on data he’s looked at from similar locales that already allows no-excuse early voting.

The existing building at 439 Madison Street has inadequate parking and inadequate security for the voting machines that are housed at the office, when not being used.

Carter estimated the cost of upgrades to the building would run between $100,000 and $125,000. This money would be recouped in about eight years since the county will no longer pay to rent space for the registrar’s office. Mecklenburg County owns the Bruce Library building, but pays just over $15,000 per year in rent for the Madison Street site.

The board will hold a public hearing during the April 6 regular board meeting on a request by Dominion Energy to install underground service to a house currently located on Highway 92 near Chase City across from the regional landfill.

Assistant County Administrator Judy Sheffield shared the news that the county is looking at a 0.08 percent increase in insurance costs for employees who opted for the high deductible insurance plan, but a slight decrease in premiums for those employees with the Key Care 500 plan. The county is also discontinuing the $1,000 deductible plan since it is only being used by one employee.

Tommy Johnson, VDOT assistant residency manager, said that the Highway 92 bridge across Butcher’s Creek in Boydton would be replaced starting in 2022. Bids for the project will be released in November 2021. Johnson said it would be “phased,” meaning drivers will still have access on 92 during construction.

He also reminded supervisors that VDOT is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the road closure on Highway 4 across the John H. Kerr Dam. The Corps are making repairs to the dam through March 22, which require the road to be closed to traffic. Johnson said he asked the Corps if, after the work is completed, the current 15-ton vehicle weight limitation would be lifted. He said Corps officials told him “it was too early to answer that question.”

Mathew Held stopped by to introduce himself to supervisors. His firm, Increment Power, is the new developer of the Bluestone solar farm located on Spanish Grove Road near Chase City. He said he expects site work to begin on the property in the next few weeks. According to Brankley, Red Oak Excavating has been hired to prepare the site for construction.

Supervisors approved paperwork to move forward with a request for $1 million from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to be used to rehabilitation and upgrade properties along Quail Hollow Road.

Charlotte County notified county administration on Friday that it had received an application from Apex Clean Energy to install a 150 MW photovoltaic solar facility on 1,683 acres of land near the intersection of Highway 360 and Route 47. Since the property is within one-half mile of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg County line, Carter said they were required by Virginia law to notify Mecklenburg County of the application.

The facility, according to Charlotte County purchasing agent Monica Elder, will consist of approximately 554,250 solar panels in a fenced area totaling 829 acres and would connect to the Dominion Energy power grid through existing transmission lines. The Charlotte County Planning Commission is holding a public hearing on the application Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. in the Charlotte County Administration office, 250 LeGrande Ave., Suite A., Charlotte Court House.

Supervisors have hired Kaufman & Canoles, P.C., to represent Mecklenburg County in a class action suit against several large drug companies for their connection to the manufacture, marketing, sale, and distribution of prescription opioid products and the harm created by the rise in opioid addiction.

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