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South Boston News / September 09, 2021

Discarded tires on property off Wilson Memorial Trail have drawn the scrutiny of neighbors and touched off countercharges in the ED-3 Halifax County Board of Supervisors race between incumbent and challenger, who are next-door neighbors.

At the Tuesday night meeting of the Board of Supervisors, supervisors heard from Sandra Garner-Coleman, a resident of Wilson Memorial Trail, who complained of piles of discarded tires at the former Wilson Memorial School property.

The old school now serves as the home of Steven and Amy Gautier, who purchased the surplus property from the county. It is also the site of a neighborhood convenience center, which continues to be used by the public under an easement held by the county.

Garner-Coleman, a member of the Halifax County School Board who is running for re-election as a write-in candidate, said Tuesday that she was speaking strictly as a private citizen who lives near the scene of the discarded tires. She said the tires create a health hazard in the area, and asked the board to compel the Gautiers to clean up the site.

“He [Steven Gautier] has piled up these tires, it’s very unattractive and definitely an eyesore,” said Garner-Coleman, who provide photos of the site to board members.

Amy Gautier is running for the ED-3 seat against Supervisors Chairman Hubert Pannell, who lives next door from the former school property. The neighbors have tangled over property lines, including in a civil action that was settled in local court, and the Gautiers have appealed to the county for relief from people who use the trash disposal center on their property. Supervisors have rejected the couple’s request, noting that the county sold Wilson Memorial School to them on an as-is basis, with public use of the convenience center included in the transaction.

Pannell, who presided at Tuesday’s meeting, did not address the topic.

Garner-Coleman said she was speaking on behalf of others who are reluctant to speak on the matter publicly, but who have taken notice of the tires and the health hazards they may present.

Water has collected in the discarded tires, raising the risks of mosquito infestation or chemicals leaching into the ground at the property, said Garner-Coleman.

“We have to be concerned about West Nile Virus or Zika, or any kind of diseases — God forbid if he decides to start to burn them, that will smell all the way across the county,” she said.

Garner-Coleman also said Steve Gautier has attempted to prevent people in the area from using the convenience center, by digging out patched potholes in the drive that leads around the back of the old school to dumpster boxes. She also said the Gautiers try to impede the use of the site in other ways.

“The residents have harassed us when we are in the process of dropping off trash. We have to veer to the left or right — he gives us hell,” said Coleman.

Contacted for comment, Amy Gautier said she was “highly disappointed that a county representative utilized the Board of Supervisors meeting for a political agenda” and accused Garner-Coleman of inserting herself into the Board of Supervisors contest between her and Pannell. Gautier said Garner-Coleman’s remarks “insulted my family publicly” and represented “an effort to bring about drama during an election with the opponents running for the Board of Supervisors District 3 seat.

“No one has contacted us to inquire about our intentions with the tires recently placed on our property. If anyone would’ve asked, we would gladly have provided or will provide them with the answer to that question,” said Gautier, who offered no explanation in a written response to Garner-Coleman’s remarks for why the couple would store used tires at their property.

“The people that live in this home are involved with the local fire department, volunteered at the local hospital, provided meals to strangers walking down the street or that live in the community, given rides to people in need, cut down trees after storms for neighbors and on the road to provide a way for power companies to get electric turned on quicker for residents, volunteered at the schools, assist neighbors with construction knowledge and labor when needed, and provide support any way we can in so many other ways to people within our community,” she wrote.

“We are not perfect and will never claim to be, but we are good people that are tired of people using political power to push us around and continue to cause financial and emotional harm to our family,” Gautier continued.

Garner-Coleman contended at the board meeting Tuesday that the Gautiers “have totally disrupted us” — longtime homeowners at Wilson Memorial Trail, some of whom are elderly and frail — and “we are people of peace.

“How is he going to repurpose those tires, I think it’s just another act of evil on his part,” added Garner-Coleman, pleading with board members to help remedy the situation.

Following a closed session, ED-1 supervisor Ricky Short addressed Coleman’s comments regarding the tires and options the board could take to resolve the matter. County Administrator Scott Simpson chimed in his office was made aware of the problem a few weeks back.

“Mr. Easley [Planning and Zoning Administrator Detrick Easley] has issued a letter of their violation of the state code and potential remedies with a date to respond,” said Simpson, adding that as of yet, the county has not heard back from the Gautiers regarding the request.

State code requires a salvage yard permit for a collection of more than 99 discarded tires. Simpson told board members that as a result, Steve Gautier would need a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and a county zoning permit to store the tires on the family’s Wilson Memorial Trail property.

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People wouldn't have tires laying around if the county would take more than 8 per year at the dump. Charlotte co takes an unlimited amount. Tire disposal has always been an issue in Halifax Co.


So they got a pile of tires. I have seen people have more tires than that throught out the county. Sounds like Coleman is trying to score political points. On the flip side the people that bought the school should have read the fine print. I know i would not want people driving by my house to go to a dump. And yes halifax needs to let us dump tires in the green boxes.


Looks political to me also. I haven't seen the tires and I go there a couple of times a week. They can't be any more of a health hazard than all the flies that swarm up every time I throw a trash bag in a dumpster. You wonder what kind of waste is in there. Can't be any more of an eyesore than rows of green dumpsters. I would have thought the writer of the article would have done enough research to get Mr. Hansen's last name correct.


The roads are the trashiest in the state and youre worried about tires in one little location. Throw them in the green box and go about your business. Halifax County has many more problems than tires.


How is he going to repurpose them? Did you even bother to ask him? You might be surprised at the answer. I've seen some of his "build" ideas come to life and they're awesome. What evil is he going to do??? Come on--Get a life!! You want a project to do some good, shut down the crack house on the road.


Garner-Coleman & Pannel, this was NOT a citizen comment. Quote from Sandra, "..the lord says love thy neighbor as ourselves." You doing that? Amy & Steve have fostered almost 20 children at their home WHILE working full-time jobs & consistently volunteering in the community. That's a POSITIVE impact. " thy neighbor" not attack them every chance you can scrounge up. Those kids have seen MUCH worse "unattractive" things than tires.While Amy & Steve are busy making literal life changing differences in our community & that home (currently home to 7 children in ADDITION to their own 2),you are complaining about tires ON YOUR WAY TO A WASTEYARD being an eyesore! Think about the effort that goes into a full-time job well done,raising kids,and volunteering on top of that. While you were taking pics of something that's not your business, I wonder what they were doing. They have hearts for service. Your hearts seem egocentric and bigotted to me. This article is embarassing.

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