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South Hill Council okays Equality March Saturday / June 10, 2020
South Hill Town Council has approved a request by James White and Jabin Walker to hold an Equality March Saturday, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Centennial Park Amphitheater.

The request was made during the monthly meeting of Town Council that was livestreamed on YouTube Monday night.

White reinforced that the event he and Walker have planned will be a march, not a parade or protest. They asked Council to waive the requirement that organizers of parades and similar events seek a permit from the town 30 days in advance of the event.

“Through this march, we want to shine the light on racism, injustice, and all kinds of oppression that plagues this country,” said White. “Through being peaceful, kind, and loving, we can further unite the bond in this community.” He said, too, that he and Walker “want to spread light, hope, and transformation.”

Council members approved the request without opposition.

In other business, a vote on a proposed Town Council Code of Ethics was tabled until July. In materials provided to Council members and the press ahead of Monday’s meeting, South Hill Human Resources Manager Carol Hutchinson recommended that Town Council should adopt a Code of Ethics, similar to most local governments. She also advised that the proposed code language was recommended and reviewed by Missy York, a town attorneys.

At the start of the meeting, Council member Mike Moody asked to table any discussion of the Ethics Code until July when three new council members will be seated. Moody’s motion passed on a 4-3 vote with Glenn Allen and Delores Luster agreeing with Moody to table the matter. Outgoing Council members Lillie Feggins-Boone, Millie Bracey and Ben Taylor voted against the motion.

With two members absent, Leroy Sasser and Lisa Jordan, Mayor Dean Marion broke the tie vote in favor of tabling the discussion.

The proposed code, which was drafted after the recent election in which three new members were elected to Council, calls for members to interact with each other and the Town Manager “with honesty and respect.” It also reinforces the idea that all significant requests for information or discussions concerning town business be directed to the Town Manager, and calls on Council members to refrain from verbal and written attacks upon the character or motives of other members of Council, and to treat each other and the Town Manager with honesty and respect, among other provisions.

Marion recognized and thanked Council members Glenn C. Allen who served on Town Council from 2014 to 2020 and Lisa V. Jordan who served from 2012 to 2020. Marion also presented Council member Millie Bracey with a resolution of “Thanks and Appreciation” for her 27 years of service to the town. She served on Council from August 1993 to June 30, 2020.

During her tenure, Bracey served on many committees including the policy review, cemetery, personnel, streetlight and water and sewer committees, Marion noted.

Bracey thanked Council for their service adding that she enjoyed her time on Council. She gave “sincere appreciation to all that has been done by Kim Callis, Anna Cratch, David Hash, Stuart Bowen, Carol Hutchinson, Sheila Cutrell and our new members.” Bracey said she is looking forward to “new members and taking the Town forward,” and thanked the voters from Ward 3 who supported her.

In other business, Council approved a request by Patrick Wright to allow the sale of automobiles on property located at 105 N. Lunenburg Avenue, and a request by Raymond T. Arnold to establish a modular home sales site at 155 Arnold Drive.

Police Chief Stuart Bowen announced that the Southside Rescue Squad building at 810 W. Atlantic Street in South Hill has been set up as a site for National Registry testing for EMT-B certification.

Also, South Hill Police officers have completed “less lethal” use-of-force scenario training, Bowen said.

Council adopted an ordinance to incorporate into the Town Code newly amended provisions of the Virginia Code that apply to the operation of motor vehicles, and that affect public health and safety.

Council approved a $20.75 million budget for the town for fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1. There are no tax increases, but utility rates have increased 5.5 percent to offset a rate increase imposed by the Roanoke River Service Authority.

Starting with the utility bills mailed in July, users of the town water supply will see a 25% utility rate discount on their bills. The increase from 20 percent to 25 percent was done to offset the percentage by which the Roanoke River Service Authority has increased the cost of service to the town.

Town Manager Kim Callis said approximately $900,000 in planned budget expenditures and wage increases will be frozen indefinitely until more information about the economic impact of the pandemic is available to the town.

Starting July 1, the employee life insurance benefit component of the budget will be administered through the Virginia Retirement System’s Group Life Insurance program.

C.J. Dean, director of municipal services, announced that Adams Construction Company has completed paving work on Northington and Atlantic Streets. The line painting on those roads has not yet occurred.

Remodeling of the Chamber of Commerce Building on Mecklenburg Avenue is nearing completion and town crews are in the process of repairing the sidewalks and stormwater drainage areas in Centennial Park.

Dean said he is working with engineers and a contractor to develop a budget for the repairs to the brick wall that collapsed between Memorial Park and the amphitheater in Centennial Park.

Business Development Manager Brent Morris unveiled the new business incentives available to business looking to operate in South Hill. The goal of the incentives is to create an attractive climate for doing business in South Hill by reducing costs through regulatory flexibility, tax and other financial incentives.

Incentives include refunds for water and sewer connection fees, building permit fees, business license taxes, real estate, and business and property taxes for qualifying businesses.

Six businesses were awarded grants to improve the facades on their buildings as part of a downtown beautification project. To date, 17 businesses in South Hill have received financial incentives to improve their facades.

Marion made the following appointments: Steve Stanley was reappointed to the South Hill Planning Commission, Alexander Graham was reappointed to the South Hill Board of Zoning Appeals, Glenn Allen was reappointed to the Roanoke River Service Authority Board and L.J. Dornak was named alternate. Joseph Taylor was appointed to serve as the town’s representative on the Southside Planning District Commission.

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