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South Boston picks architect for fire station expansion

South Boston News / June 13, 2019

South Boston Town Council approved a request from Mid-Atlantic Broadband (MBC) for tax-exempt status and tapped Moore Architecture to build a new addition to the South Boston fire station at the regular monthly meeting on Monday night.

Council members also approved a $10,665,703 budget for fiscal year 2019-20 and approved two appointments to the Halifax County Service Authority.

Council heard a presentation from Kelvin Moore, principal in charge of Moore Architects, for the proposed new wing to the SBFD’s station at 403 Broad Street. No plans have been drawn up yet, but the new wing would have office space, loading bays to fit four additional trucks, and sleeping quarters for overnight staff.

It would also allow the department to drive trucks in through the back of the bay, avoiding the need to back in vehicles while obstructing Broad Street traffic.

“What we will have will be three new offices. We’ll have four new sleeping quarters for the firefighters that stay here all night and two new drive through bays that will actually house four trucks,” said Fire Chief Steve Phillips.

Phillips explained that the department needs the space because it houses and operates Halifax County’s ladder truck. The ladder truck is in South Boston because the town is centrally located and the department has paid firefighters who, according to Phillips, are involved in over 90 percent of calls that require the truck.The ladder truck is housed at the Broad Street station but is so long that it takes up twice the space of other trucks.

“It’s pretty much always been here. It takes up a one whole bay in the building we do have,” Phillips said. He added that the new wing would be able to better house it.

Because the ladder truck belongs to the county, the Board of Supervisors previously approved $150,000 to help with the expansion. South Boston Town Council agreed in closed session to take on Moore Architecture to develop a complete plan, but did not disclose the exact figures the architect had said the project would cost. Town Clerk Jane Jones said that the figure was less than one million dollars.

MBC made their request for a tax exemption after purchasing the lot next to the Fire Support Center. The corporation plans to partner with Microsoft to erect a new building in the town, which would increase the tax value of the property to an estimated $10,500, all of which will be tax exempt. The non-profit corporation claims 501C4 status under Virginia code 58.1-3651.

“The benevolent purposes of MBC are clear and satisfy the code’s requirement,” wrote Tad Deriso, president and CEO of MBC in his request.

He argued that MBC is a social welfare organization that supports economic and community development in its efforts to bridge the digital divide in rural Virginia. His request to the Town highlighted MBC’s fiber optic communications infrastructure, direct fiber links to schools and municipal buildings, and the financial support MBC had provided to the school system and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

He also noted that the company is planning to make a $5 million capital investment in the Town and will donate the parcel of land they are building on to the Industrial Development Authority.

“As a non-profit organization, no individual person benefits from the net earnings of the organization as 100 percent of those earnings are reinvested in the capability of the network and directed to community reinvestments, including regional community college scholarships, annual sponsorships of high school robotics teams, and several economic development programs,” Deriso wrote.

Over the past two years MBC has been granted tax exempt status in Halifax and nine other counties. Council voted unanimously to approve the request.

Council also approved a request from the owners of several lots off Highway 501 to vacate their undeveloped lots and annul the right-of-way on three roads in the failed subdivision in an effort to sell the land as larger parcels. The Tuck-Bagwell-Dillard Subdivision is owned collectively by Lester Dillard Jr. and Betty Dillard of Georgia, Eva Dillard Whiteside of Alabama, and Guy Haskins and Linda Haskins of Virginia. It was established in 1953, but still remains largely undeveloped.

Council approved the budget for 2019-20, including two alterations to the list of fees and taxes. The 10-cent cigarette tax adopted last year will be in effect as well as a revision on the fee for delinquent personal property, in this case meaning vehicles. Formerly this fee was charged per vehicle, but now will be charged once per customer account.

The new budget includes $2,478,308 for the police department and $1,764,934 for street maintenance. It also includes $18,000 for the drug task force.

Finally, Council backed the appointments of Mark Thackston and LaTonya Hamilton to on the Halifax County Service Authority Board of Directors.

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