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Newly elected officials take their oaths / December 05, 2013
In a brief meeting Monday night, members of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors tied up loose ends as the calendar year comes to a close.

The supervisors approved, without discussion, a contract extension for Fun At The Fair, LLC to manage the Halifax County Fair. The entity is owned by Del. James Edmunds, with chief animal control officer Todd Mosier serving as manager. The contract calls for Fun At The Fair to stage the annual fall event for the next three years, with an optional one year renewal clause.

reappointed two members of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, Chris Lumsden and Butch Blanks, to new four-year terms.

set the calendar for upcoming budget discussions and discussed plans to meet with the School Board and Superintendent of Schools Merle Herndon on Dec. 12.

The supervisors also heard presentations from VDOT District Administrator Chris Winstead of Lynchburg and Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority administrator Tim Trent.

In his presentation, Trent discussed the costs of housing inmates at the five jails in the Blue Ridge system — in Halifax, Lynchburg, Campbell, Amherst and Bedford. The Halifax County Adult Detention Center, located in the Town of Halifax, currently houses 128 inmates, most of them serving jail sentences of six months or less.

The regional system also takes in some state and federal inmates as well as inmates from other local jurisdictions that have run short of jail beds. Trent noted that Blue Ridge benefits from the revenue from other jurisdictions that farm out their jail populations. The average annual cost of housing an inmate is around $21,000.

That expense rises, he noted, whenever the authority has to take in inmates with significant health issues or mental illness. “Mental health is a big issue … A large percent of our inmates are on mental health medications,” said Trent, who pointed to fresh concerns about mental health care in Virginia in the wake of the attack on state Sen. Creigh Deeds by his troubled son, Gus, who killed himself after stabbing his father. “That’s one thing that drives our costs up.”

On the whole, however, Trent said Halifax County and other Blue Ridge member localities have saved a great deal of money by joining forces to create a regional authority rather than operating separate local jails. That brought a note of agreement by Board Chairman Tom West, the only county supervisor in office when the authority was formed in 1994.

The Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority employs some 410 personnel and houses 1,200 inmates in its five jail facilities.

Absent Monday were supervisors Barry Bank and J.T. Davis.

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