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Mecklenburg County’s Top Ten news stories

SoVaNow.com / January 02, 2013
Of all the headlines in 2012, it’s this collection — unfolding sporadically over a span of months, or landing like a thunderbolt at a moment’s notice — that up makes The Sun’s Top 10 list:

1 Community Memorial Healthcenter takes big steps back, big steps forward, and unknown steps sideways: In January, Mecklenburg County’s community hospital announced the cessation of OB services (i.e., the baby ward) and the closing of its behavioral health care Pavilion. But then CMH roared back with a spectacularly successful fundraising campaign to support its $19 million expansion project, which includes the new Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center, a radiology center, new surgical center and other facilities. Having entered into an alliance with VCU Medical Center to provide expanded cancer treatment services in the area, the hospital also announced it would explore a possible partnership agreement with a larger health care provider. Details to be announced — stay tuned in 2013.

2 The closing of Mecklenburg Correctional Center carries a sting. Sentenced to the death penalty at the end of 2011, the prison complex continued to make headlines in 2012 as the agonizing task of actually shutting down the facility proceeded. It wasn’t always clear what kind of impact the shutdown had on the local economy, although the Town of Boydton struggled mightily with the budgetary loss (see sidebar). By year’s end, county officials were making plans for the razing of the prison building, in the hope the site could be redeveloped as … something. Also, Mecklenburg and partners opened the regional jail, which picked up some of the unemployment slack created by MCC’s departure.

3. Clarksville nearly finishes its annexation bid. After more than a decade of going nowhere with a 3,000 acre-plus land grab, the town scaled back its ambitions in order to strike a deal with the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors to take in unincorporated county land. A much smaller boundary adjustment won the preliminary blessing of the Commission on Local Government and appears headed for ratification in 2013, although complications are always possible.

4. The economy remained soft, but hopeful signs emerged. By the end of the year, the county’s jobless rate was below 10 percent, a hopeful sign. The housing market also showed signs of recovery. Not much happened good or bad with economic development announcements, although the county put in a request for $900,000 to support the expansion of an existing industry, the identity of which was kept a secret. A clue: the grant will fund a project to take employment from 50 jobs to around 80. Hopeful indeed.

5. The election. A big deal — President Barack Obama won a second term, Democrat Tim Kaine took Virginia’s Senate seat, and Fifth District rep Robert Hurt won handily. For most of the year, the election was like a long dream, or nightmare, depending on one’s poijt of view.

6. School expansion and salary battles. The Board of Supervisors and School Board tangled more than once during the year, but the upshot was actual progress — construction of new elementary school gymnasiums, movement towards ridding schools of trailer classrooms, an upward salary adjustment for teachers. It’ll be a tough act to replicate in 2013.

7. A proposed YMCA merger fails. Halifax County-South Boston YMCA CEO Marcus Hargrave proposed a merger between the South Boston, Clarksville and Chase City branches of the Y, but the idea collapsed amid questions about financing, transparency, asset sharing and other concerns. By the end of the year, the Mecklenburg Y’s were firmly pointed in their own direction.

8. Halifax Regional Health System announces partnership with Sentara. The community’s other big health system — based in South Boston, but with clinics in Chase City and Clarksville and a nursing home in Clarksville — turned to Norfolk-based Sentara for its health care future. The deal is expected to close in mid-2013. A hint of what’s to come for CMH?

9. Deputy arrested on rape charges. Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Smith was arrested following a State Police investigation and charged with rape of a juvenile under the age of 13. The allegations remain unproved, but Smith lost his job with the Mecklenburg department.

10. Uranium mining upstream in Pittsylvania County. A big story that unfolded throughout 2012. With opposition among localities and others mounting, the fate of Virginia’s uranium mining ban in the General Assembly — a story coming up in early 2013 — could head up this list next year.


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I would think the President of The USA visiting Bluestone Sr. High School would have made the top ten. To my knowledge a President has NEVER visited a Mecklenburg School.


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