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Halifax supervisors tee up school borrowing of $135 million, employee pay raises

Halifax County is poised to borrow $105 million to build a new high school with an additional $25 million set aside for elementary school upgrades — the recommendation of the…

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Keep it local / March 03, 2016

Dear Viewpoint:

I can tell you from a business perspective that jobs are mighty hard to come by in Halifax County. I remind my boys, all the time, how lucky we are to have wheels on our equipment so we can go where the work is. If we didn’t we’d go broke! If need be we could be in Orlando in a week ready to go to work. That option is not available to many other fine and well established businesses here. Their only hope is the creation of jobs right here in Halifax County.

Back in January we learned that an outside investment firm had been working behind closed doors for about a year to purchase Halifax Elementary School for the princely sum of $1 dollar — but only after the county made certain improvements to that property that could total over $75,000 or more of your tax money; plus a number of other perks like a due diligence period of one year and assumption of no environmental liability which could run the cost much higher. (The gas tank leak right across Banister Lake at Cheek’s Store ran over $1,000,000.) Echelon’s business model relies heavily on out of town labor and the eventual owners are city folks with no ties to or interest in Halifax County. Guess where the money goes. Those big city boys want to take the historic tax credits and profits out of the count — good-bye.

Because of the closed door meetings — it’s real estate you see — most of us have just recently found out about all of this, and because this old school is in my neighborhood I scurried around and with a lot of help from family and friends was able to put together a counter proposal that is much better for the county, town and neighborhood, plus it keeps everything local: jobs, money and control. What’s not to like about that? Echelon is basically a shell corporation that finds old derelict properties, buys them for a buck or two and sells them off to an out of town investment group before moving on.

Our local group of investors proposes to buy the same property, no strings attached, immediately, and at an estimated savings of $75,000 of your tax money, plus we assume liability for all environmental problems past, present and future. We guarantee that all work (100 percent) will be performed by local well established Halifax County contractors and we will begin work immediately to restore the integrity of the building — not wait a year to begin work. That building does not need to sit unattended for another year. Our local LLC will keep the money generated from these apartments right here in Halifax County. Echelon’s LLC will take the money to Richmond, Petersburg or some other big city. Which is better for our county?

We have a new Board of Supervisors and I’m sure they would like to hear your views on this subject. If you are interested in keeping jobs and investment money in Halifax County, you should contact all our supervisors and let them know how you feel; better yet, come to the board meeting on March 7th at 6 p.m. and show your support for “KEEP IT LOCAL.”

Chairman Dennis G. Witt, ED-4 (434) 470-8004Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Vice Chairman J. T. Davis, ED-1 Phone: (434) 376-5480 Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Supervisor Hubert Pannell, ED-3 Phone: 434-476-7960Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Supervisor Joseph A. Rogers, ED-5 6194 (434)222-7454Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Supervisor S. Lawrence Giordano, ED-6 Phone (434) 753-1992 Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Supervisor Garland B. Ricketts, ED-7 Phone: (434) 572-7825 Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Supervisor Bryant Claiborne, ED-8 Phone: (434) 572-3882

TIE BREAKER - James Wade Phone: ( 434)572-1064 Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Jack Dunavant

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