Monday, January 15, 2018

From the Halls of Montezuma to the halls of Goochland High!



Goochland Bulldogs need to come to the aid of our Marine Junior ROTC Bulldogs.

Since its inception a few years ago, the Marine Junior ROTC (MJROTC) program at Goochland High School has been a rousing success. The program met and exceeded establishment requirements in its first year, quite a feat for a small high school.       

Established in 2014 under the National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC)authority, it was understood that if the Goochland program met certain criteria, it would become a fully-funded JROTC program. Goochland met, and exceeded those benchmarks, which included maintaining an enrollment of more than ten percent of the student body. To date, participation in our program has ranged between 12 and 14 percent.

Lessons learned in this program, in addition to the military stuff, like leadership, teamwork, personal responsibility, and discipline, prepare the cadets to succeed in military service, and will stand them in good stead wherever life’s journey takes them. Leading by example, Goochland MCJROTC cadets have changed the attitude of the entire student body.

In its short existence, the Goochland MCJROTC program, and its ripple effect on the entire student body,  has earned a reputation for excellence among military recruiters who actively pursue not only cadets, and other students.
Goochland MCJROTC color guard in action.


Goochland county enthusiastically supported the program, investing $750,000 in a building and fully funding salaries for its faculty. American Legion Post 215 was instrumental in securing the program for GHS.

In November, 2017, Lt. Col. Kevin Williams and Staff Sergeant Daniel Strong, leader of the MCJROTC,  received notice that the Marine Corps funding for the NDCC has ceased. This loss of funding—the cost of travel, training, equipment, and supplies—will cause an approximately $45,000  shortfall for the Goochland MCJROTC.


Our MJROTC program not only prepares students for military service—qualified volunteers are becoming harder to find—but teaches them leadership, personal responsibility, discipline, and teamwork. These skills will stand them in good stead no matter where life’s journey takes them.

Many MCJROTC cadets are encouraged by instructors to pursue higher education. They also help highly qualified candidates seek scholarships. Since its inception,  95 percent of MCJROTC cadets indicated their intent to continue their education, securing $162,000 in scholarship funds, and 84 academic awards.

In the short time that the Goochland MJROTC has been in existence, it has provided valuable assistance to community organizations, including the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, and Goochland Christmas Mother. Its color guard proudly presents the Stars and Stripes, demonstrating  proper respect for our flag.

The rigor of the program is demonstrated by the accolades won by our cadets in various ROTC competitions, especially being recognized as outstanding on its first Marine Corps inspection.

We need to let those who represent us in Washington about the high quality of this program, its importance to the community. To continue financial support that the MCJROTC has gotten from the Marine Corps, our representatives in Washington must take action on our behalf.

There are two ways to do this. The best choice is to change the status of the Goochland program to that of a fully sanctioned junior ROTC program. There are two slots nationwide for this. If that cannot be done, lawmakers need to change the law to restore federal funding under the NDCC model.

Show your support for Goochland’s Marine Corps Bulldogs by contacting Senators Warner and Kaine and Congressman Brat to encourage restoration of full funding for the Goochland High School Marine Corps Cadet program.


Additional information regarding the Goochland High School Marine Cadet Corps program can be found here: https://docs.google.com/a/glnd.k12.va.us/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=Z2xuZC5rMTIudmEudXN8c2ItYWdlbmRhc3xneDo0YjhiNTYyNWUwYzIyMTky



Thursday, January 11, 2018

The devil is in the details


During the public hearing section of  their first meeting of 2018, Goochland County’s supervisors deferred a decision on yet another residential rezoning application—for Swann’s Inn—until March. By then the supervisors expect to adopt a development impact model to help  gauge the true cost of new homes.

They did approve rezoning of  4.45 acres adjacent to Rt. 288 and an accompanying conditional use permit for a  building height of 80 or so feet, both to move the Sheltering Arms rehabilitation hospital in West Creek, roughly opposite the Wawa, to move forward.

The long meeting finished with adoption of the 25 year capital improvement plan (CIP), which was crafted as part of the capital impact model.

Since its creation decades ago, West Creek, a 3,500 acre enclave on Goochland’s eastern border, was touted as an economic engine whose revenues would fund local government and preserve “rural character” everywhere else.

Even after creation of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, which brought water and sewer to much of West Creek and bisection by state route 288, West Creek still resembles a nature preserve  more than an economic engine.

Things have picked up there in recent years with new projects including medical office building, the hospital, apartments, and, of all things, the magnificent new campus of the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Though not the corporate headquarters originally envisioned for West Creek, these bring jobs, increase property values, which in turn boost real estate taxes, and add users to the TCSD.

As western Henrico runs out of raw land, the push for development is sloshing into Goochland. Mixed-use zoning was recently approved for the old Oak Hill property on Route 6.

Rezoning applications for two residential communities in the Hockett Road corridor, one in West Creek, the other at the edge of the Centerville Village, to bring more than 800 homes, caused the supervisors to tap the development brakes. Before increasing by ten percent  the number of  homes in the county, the supervisors want to better understand how this dramatic increase in population will affect the cost of delivering government services.

The planning commission recommended approval of an expanded capital facilities plan at its January 4 meeting. This will replace chapter 6 in the 2035  Comprehensive Land Use Plan. It is also a component of the capital impact model. (See the packet for the January 4 planning commission meeting for details.)

This deep dive into county infrastructure was a prudent move by the supervisors.

The results dispelled some conventional wisdom. For instance, the notion that the county would build a new elementary school somewhere in the eastern end of the county, may not come to pass. The school board recommends, going forward 25 years, that the county stick with three elementary schools with larger capacities. A new Randolph will be built at some point. The site has not been determined and it could pretty much stay where it is.

Another assumption, that the next new county built fire-rescue station be located in West Creek, may also be flawed. There is no fire-rescue station in District 2, which is also experiencing a residential growth spurt. This increases homeowner’s insurance premiums and potential for  loss of life and property.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay, during a December 11 workshop on the 25 year CIP,  said that Manakin Company 1 and Centerville Company 3 could provide fire-rescue coverage to the east end if they were adequately staffed. He also pointed out that it can take up to 25 minutes for fire apparatus to reach remote parts of District 2 from exisiting stations.

Funding assumptions in the 25 year CIP  are based on retention of the 53 cent per hundred dollars of assessed valuation tax rate. This rate has been in place for at least a decade. Some residents argue that the tax rate should rise, others believe the rate is too high.

Economic development has picked up in the past few years. However, thanks to the TCSD debt, the county must attract a lot of new business every year to stay even. Although real estate tax revenues grow each year due to new construction and appreciation, it remains to be seen if proposed residential enclaves can pay for themselves.

The supervisors will need to decide, no matter what, which capital projects—and the list is long—take precedence. They may also need  “to have a conversation with the community” about floating a bond issue, and incur additional debt, to fund these items sooner rather than later.

In 2014, the supervisors adopted a four year strategic plan (see goochlandva.us under supervisor’s tab),  which includes a goal of “balanced development that contributes to the welfare of the community and preserves its rural character.”

Finding the sweet spot between development pressures in the east and the welfare of the entire county is a delicate task. Growth is like fire—controlled it provides heat and energy, unchecked, it devours everything in its path. 

The next few months will be interesting indeed.








Monday, January 8, 2018

The start of 2018


Goochland’s supervisors rang in 2018 with punch and cake before their January 3 meeting to celebrate being named the most tax friendly county in the nation for 2017 by the American City County Exchange.  The award, totally unsolicited, according to Supervisor Ken Peterson, District 5, recognizes Goochland for… “outstanding performance on spending, taxes, and transparency”.

Goochland has yet another award for excellence in governing .


“Goochland County is  a national leader in taxpayer friendly policies,” said Jon Russell, National Director of ACCE and a Culpeper Town Councilman in an ACCE press release. “Other counties need to look at their model of governance and replicate their success.” Visit http://www.acce.us for more information about this organization.


Electing  board leadership for calendar year 2018 was the first item on the Board’s afternoon agenda. Peterson was elected chair and Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, vice chair. Outgoing chair Ned Creasey, District 3, thanked fellow board members for their support and county staff for its dedication to serving the citizens while implementing board policies. It is board policy to rotate leadership each year.

Ken Peterson, District 5, (l) will be 2018 Board Chair; Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, Vice Chair.


Peterson thanked Creasey for being the catalyst of the good things that have happened in Goochland since he was first elected in 2007.  He commended Creasey on completing a second term as board chair and for setting high standards for those in local government.

 “Ned is a plain spoken man of few words who has served in the uniform of his country; as a police officer; and as a long time Goochland Fire-Rescue volunteer. He has been a great friend and mentor to all of us,” said Peterson.

Following elections, the supervisors adopted their code of ethics and operating procedures. (These are available on the county website http://goochlandva.us/) Adopting a code of ethics that lists, in detail, expected behavior of elected officials to earn  public trust in performance of their duties sets a clear standard for moral behavior. It was first adopted on March 1, 2001.

County Administrator John Budesky said that the county budget season is in full swing. He thanked everyone who worked hard  last year to compile the 25 year capital improvement plan that identifies priorities going forward. Between now and adoption of the county budget for fiscal year 2019 in April, there will be ample opportunity for citizens to weigh in on county finances with several public hearings and a spring round of town hall meetings. Citizen feedback on money matters, said Budesky, is extremely important. In addition to public forums, county administration and the supervisors may be contacted by phone or electronic means.

The afternoon session addressed a number of items in an expeditious manner.

A  resolution denying a damage claim on the recommendation of the county attorney was unanimously adopted.

Perhaps the most interesting item on the agenda was an unsolicited proposal by a private company to expand broadband in Goochland.

Since taking office in 2012 this board, especially Alvarez, has sought ways to expand high speed internet access. Western Goochland and areas throughout the county have no access to broadband and, in some places, difficulty obtaining adequate cell phone signals. The supervisors do not believe the county should be in the internet business.  They prefer to create an environment attractive to private sector providers more able to react quickly to technological advances than a governmentally regulated utility.    

The proposal, submitted by SCS Broadband Acelanet,LLC, is for a public-private partnership to provide high-speed internet in the county. The supervisors authorized staff to review the proposal and report back to them.

Budesky said that he is pleased about this development, but cautioned that it has not yet been fully vetted to ensure that it is in the best interest of the citizens.  “This is just the beginning,” said Budesky. “We’re not prepared to talk details at this point. We need to make sure that they (SCA Broadband) can deliver before we get locked into anything.”

The evaluation will take about 90 days; the supervisors will be kept abreast of the process. “This proposal was a long time coming and we want to make sure it is done right,” said Budesky. “As this was not the result of a request for proposals, it is now a public document open to some level of negotiation.” The county, said Budesky wants to remain as transparent as possible so that the citizens are clear on what is being considered. He also hoped that the SCS Broadband overture will attract competitors. Goochland does not have a non-compete arrangement with Comcast or Verizon.

In response to a query from Peterson, Budesky confirmed that the supervisors authorized only an evaluation of the proposal by staff. No commitment, monetary or otherwise, was made.

Peterson reiterated that this proposal is just the beginning. NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE, and this could turn out not to be the answer to bring broadband to underserved parts of the county. Stay tuned, this is an encouraging development, but it is very early days.

Administrative Services Manager Paul Drumwright presented an update on the county’s 2018 Legislative Agenda—the document that communicates Goochland’s position on proposed legislation before the General Assembly and “wish list” of new laws to benefit the county. The list of proposed laws for 2018, so far, is relatively light. Drumwright attributed this to the November defeat of  many incumbents. Indeed, this year it seems likely that little will be accomplished at the General Assembly as both parties battle for control, rather than serve the citizens who elected them.

Only a few of the county’s priority requests have been addressed in pending legislation. These include: a change on composition of the economic development authority; determination of public facility capacity; expansion of broadband through the Virginia Telecommunications initiative; and elimination of the requirement for schools to open after Labor Day. Additional bills are expected to be filed in the near future.

The General Assembly convenes on January 10. Goochland’s representation in the GA consists of Delegates Lee Ware, 65th District; newly elected John McGuire, 56th District, and Senator Mark Peake, 22nd District.





Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking ahead for 25 years


Since taking office in 2012, Goochland County’s current board of supervisors refused to accept govern by status quo. From restructuring the massive Tuckahoe Creek Service District debt to securing a AAA bond rating, these supervisors take their responsibility as stewards of public funds very seriously.

Changes in cash proffer laws in 2016, coupled with a dramatic rise in residential rezoning applications brought the potential for new fiscal stress to the top of the supervisors’ worry list. As they considered a drop off in cash proffers—monetary mitigation for the capital expense caused by growth—the supervisors realized they need a better estimate of looming expenditures countywide over the next few decades.

The county retained the services of a consultant to gather data and interpret data on the cost of residential growth to better gauge the county’s ability to absorb it. One component of this project is a long range capital improvement plan.

Typically, the county CIP looks five years into the future to prudently plan expenditures for items with a useful life of more than three years and costing at least $50,000. This year, the Board asked for a 25 year CIP.

At a special workshop on December 11, County Administrator John Budesky presented a draft of this document to the supervisors. It was a daunting undertaking  that required a substantial amount of work for every department, especially that of Financial Services, under the direction of Barbara Horlacher. “I would not have done this with any other board,” he said at the start of his remarks.

Projected costs assumed a two percent annual increase in the consumer price index. They did not address possible savings resulting from repurposing existing buildings for other uses. Budesky explained that a sitting board of supervisors cannot obligate a future board to raise taxes to meet the cost of debts it incurs. The numbers included in this CIP, said Budesky, do not reflect a tax increase. However, he opined that, at some point down the road, the Board an citizens may need to have a “discussion” about capital funding in the form of a referendum to allow the county to issue general obligation bonds to fund capital projects.

County Attorney Tara McGee cautioned that, under the new state proffer law, jurisdictions many not use proffer dollars to fund capital projects that are not directly affected by new construction. For instance, proffer money generated by new residential communities in the east end may not be used to pay for a new  fire-rescue station in District 2.

The report is a very detailed, diverse mix of needs and issues. It includes schools, new and improvements; a courthouse; several fully equipped fire-rescue stations; parks; n east end convenience center; and recurring expenses such as replacement of  HVAC systems and roofs. The list is all inclusive. Specific sites for new facilities,  have not yet been identified

The 25 year CIP reiterates that all three of the county’s elementary schools are about 60 years old. Our  existing fire-rescue stations, most built on donated land literally by the volunteers, are not sited to deliver optimal service to citizens.

For instance, District  2 has no fire-rescue station, even though it has experienced significant residential growth since the turn of the century, especially around Sandy Hook. Fire-rescue Chief Bill MacKay contended that it can take 25 minutes for  firefighters from Courthouse Company  5 to reach a blaze at the end of Rock Castle Road, even if there are crews on duty ready to deploy when  dispatched. This increases the cost of homeowner’s insurance and potential for loss of life and property from fire.

A structure fire  last week that destroyed a home in the upscale Meadows subdivision may add urgency to this issue.

The draft 25 year CIP, on which there will be a public hearing at the Board’s January 3, meeting, also includes, in later years, upgrades for firearms and radio systems for the sheriff’s office;  a new east end library; and park improvements.  Please take a look for yourself at http://goochlandva.us/  on the right side of the page “proposed CIP budget FY 2019-FY2043.”

A timeline for expenditures is part of the document. This helps the supervisors decide whether items will be funded on a pay go basis, or will require debt financing.

Budesky said that he is confident about the costs in the near term, in the outlying yeas, not so much. Peering far into the future is tricky. Indeed, had a similar task been undertaken 25 in the past, it seems unlikely that funding for information technology would have included cloud servers, software permits, and a hardware replacement cycle.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Supervisor Ken Peterson, District 5, accessed the abacus in his mind when he observed that, to build a new school and fire-rescue station every five years, the county will need to set aside at least $6 million annually, above and beyond all other expenses, for the next 25  years.

During the “great recession” the county slashed spending and delayed recurring replacements to keep its head above water as real estate values—taxes on which are the main source of local government revenue—plummeted. Time is past due for catching up. Doing it all at once sets up the county for a repeat performance of things wearing out at the same time in the future.

For instance, fire-rescue bought six 2,200 gallon tanker trucks about 15 years ago, and six new engines a few years later, all with the same expected useful life. Staggered, planned replacement will ease the cost and lessen the stresses of an entire fleet of aging apparatus. The same is true of most items in the plan.

Planning for upgrades and replacements of HVAC systems; bathrooms; carpet; roofs; software and computers; and vehicles rather than playing  catch up and making expensive, emergency repairs to keep things going beyond their useful lives, saves money in the long run. Figuring out how to pay for everything in  a timely manner is the tricky part.

The supervisors adopted a fiscal policy earlier this year, which says in part:
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is no statutory limitation on the amount of debt a County can issue. The County has set its own debt ratio guidelines as part of sound financial management practices. Debt ratios will be annually calculated and included in the review of financial trends.
 The County will comply with the following debt ratio guidelines:
 a) Net debt as a percentage of estimated market value of taxable property should not exceed 2.75%. Net debt is to include general obligation, capital leases, and enterprise fund revenue bonds, including accreted interest.
 b) The ratio of debt service expenditures as a percent of total general fund expenditures (including transfers to other funds) should not exceed 12%. Limiting debt service expenditures in this way provides flexibility for other expenses in the budget.”


Costs and timing of road improvements are included in the 25 year CIP. Unlike other capital items, road projects require the blessing of, and at least some funding from, VDOT. The list of road projects includes: realignment of Hockett Road; four laning Ashland Road to the Hanover line; the Fairground Road extension to Rt.6; a bridge over Rt. 288 to reconnect Three Chopt Road  to Broad Street Road; and the bridge over Tuckahoe Creek to connect Ridgefield Parkway to Rt. 288.

The grand total for the 25 year CIP is $592,176,006. Paying for infrastructure will be a daunting task. 






Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Year's end



Goochland’s Board of Supervisors final regular meeting for 2017 was held on December 5. Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, returned after a health related absence. It was good to see him back at the helm of the ship of local government whose turn in the right direction he started almost a decade ago.

County Administrator John Budesky thanked everyone who made the annual Christmas Tree lighting on December 1 a success. Approximately 750 people came out to see Santa and participate in the event.
The Goochland County Christmas Tree.


VDOT representative Marshall Wynne declared his organization ready for snow, which turned out to be prophetic, because, on December 5, local meteorologists were only predicting a dusting, yet several inches fell on Friday and Saturday.

Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 expressed concern about  westbound Interstate 64 traffic backing up into travel lanes—sometimes all the way to the rest area—during evening rush hour. He asked Wynne if a roundabout there, discussed some years ago, was still on the drawing board. Wynne speculated that the back-up could have been caused by a wreck, but would consult traffic engineers about the situation.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill  MacKay warned that people have a five times greater chance of dying in fires involving live Christmas trees. “You have about 30 SECONDS to get out of the house safely” once the tree catches fire, the chief said. He advises everyone to devise an evacuation plan and practice home fire drills to get everyone out safely in time. The best fire is one that never starts, so take extra caution with fresh greenery, candles, and fireplaces during this special time of year.

MacKay also reported that calls for service rose again in the previous month. The supervisors authorized combination of three part-time career fire-rescue positions into one full time slot funded by cost recovery proceeds.

The Board also authorized acceleration of filling three new dispatcher positions from July 1 to January 1, 2018.

A resolution in support of MEDRVA’s application for a certificate of public need (COPN) to build and operate a diagnostic imaging center in the county was unanimously approved. MEDRVA operates an outpatient surgery center in West Creek. This proposed facility would improve and increase access to high quality health care in Goochland, but needs the blessing of the state to proceed.

The Board adopted a resolution supporting submission of a grant application to secure funding for an 8,600 foot segment of an east end trail project that, at completion, will run , approximately 6.5 miles from Rt. 6 to Broad Street Road. The route of the proposed trail will mostly follow existing waterline rights of way, which are  maintained by the county. The grant, from  the VDOT Transportation Alternatives program, is for $200,000 and would require a $50,000 county match. The $50,000 has been identified in the county’s capital improvement plan to fund an east end trail.

Included in the grant submission, is a portion of the trail beginning at the Virginia Farm Bureau Headquarters in West Creek, passing near the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, in final stages of construction, to an existing sidewalk on Broad Branch Drive. (See page 86 of the December Board packet available on the county website http://goochlandva.us/ for a map.)

A trailhead is planned near the West Creek Emergency Center on Tuckahoe Creek Parkway.

The supervisors approved an amendment to increase the project budget for the new animal shelter by $45,816 to cover the cost of a brick front. The increase in cost is supported by a rise in donations.

Annual reports from Health and Human Services agencies, who partner with Goochland County to serve the community ended the afternoon session. The groups are: Office of Children’s Services ▪ Department of Social Services ▪ Goochland Powhatan Community Services ▪ Goochland Health Department ▪ Pamunkey Regional Library ▪ Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services.

Visit the transparency tab on the county website for details.

Paul Drumwright, Administrative Services Manager, explained that county HHS organizations are the third largest spending category behind schools and public safety in the county budget.

Our Social Services Department helps the disadvantaged navigate a complicated  myriad of federal, state and local assistance programs. The supervisors commended DSS Director Kimberley Jefferson for the efforts her department made to correct a reporting deficit, caused by slow state computer system, that “dinged”  the county audit last year.  Jefferson reported that her department is fully staffed “for the first time in years” and explained that, by using part-time employees, they were able to process benefit eligibility in a timely manner.  

Other organizations work with at risk youth; provide mental health assistance and deal with the opioid epidemic. The Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, which provides health care and basic human services to those who  may have “fallen through the cracks” of society continues its good work.

The Goochland Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library provides informational services, including an expanding array of ways to access materials electronically. It also offers, in conjunction with the Friends of the Goochland Library, a summer reading program.  Story times, book groups, and other lifelong learning opportunities and places for people to interact are provided by our  library.

Being part of the Pamunkey system allows cardholders access to a much wider range of material and services than would be available if Goochland had a stand- alone library in a cost-effective manner. Cards are free to residents of the county. Be sure to stop by soon and sign up for one if you are not already a member. Go to http://www.pamunkeylibrary.org/goochland.htm for more details.

The county’s budget for FY 2018, which began July 1, earmarked a bit more than  $5.4 million for health and welfare programs.











 Year end

Goochland’s Board of Supervisors final regular meeting for 2017 was held on December 5. Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, returned after a health related absence. It was good to see him back at the helm of the ship of local government who began its turn in the right direction almost a decade ago.

County Administrator John Budesky thanked everyone who made the annual Christmas Tree lighting on December 1 a success. Approximately 750 people came out to see Santa and participate in the event.

VDOT representative Marshall Wynne declared his organization ready for snow, which turned out to be prophetic, because, on December 5, local meteorologists were only predicting a dusting, yet several inches fell on Friday and Saturday.

Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 expressed concern about  westbound Interstate 64 traffic backing up into travel lanes—sometimes all the way to the rest area—during evening rush hour. He asked Wynne if a roundabout there, discussed some years ago, was still on the drawing board. Wynne speculated that the back-up could have been caused by a wreck, but would consult traffic engineers about the situation.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill  MacKay warned that people have a five times greater chance of dying in fires involving live Christmas trees. “You have about 30 SECONDS to get out of the house safely” once the tree catches fire, the chief said. He advises everyone to devise an evacuation plan and practice home fire drills to get everyone out safely in time. The best fire is one that never starts, so take extra caution with fresh greenery, candles, and fireplaces during this special time of year.

MacKay also reported that calls for service rose again in the previous month. The supervisors authorized combination of three part-time career fire-rescue positions into one full time slot funded by cost recovery proceeds.

The Board also authorized acceleration of filling three new dispatcher positions from July 1 to January 1, 2018.

A resolution in support of MEDRVA’s application for a certificate of public need (COPN) to build and operate a diagnostic imaging center in the county was unanimously approved. MEDRVA operates an outpatient surgery center in West Creek. This proposed facility would improve and increase access to high quality health care in Goochland, but needs the blessing of the state to proceed.

The Board adopted a resolution supporting submission of a grant application to secure funding for an 8,600 foot segment of an east end trail project that, at completion, will run , approximately 6.5 miles from Rt. 6 to Broad Street Road. The route of the proposed trail will mostly follow existing waterline rights of way, which are  maintained by the county. The grant, from  the VDOT Transportation Alternatives program, is for $200,000 and would require a $50,000 county match. The $50,000 has been identified in the county’s capital improvement plan to fund an east end trail.

Included in the grant submission, is a portion of the trail beginning at the Virginia Farm Bureau Headquarters in West Creek, passing near the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, in final stages of construction, to an existing sidewalk on Broad Branch Drive. (See page 86 of the December Board packet available on the county website http://goochlandva.us/ for a map.)

A trailhead is planned near the West Creek Emergency Center on Tuckahoe Creek Parkway.

The supervisors approved an amendment to increase the project budget for the new animal shelter by $45,816 to cover the cost of a brick front. The increase in cost is supported by a rise in donations.

Annual reports from Health and Human Services agencies, who partner with Goochland County to serve the community ended the afternoon session. The groups are: Office of Children’s Services ▪ Department of Social Services ▪ Goochland Powhatan Community Services ▪ Goochland Health Department ▪ Pamunkey Regional Library ▪ Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services.

Visit the transparency tab on the county website for details.

Paul Drumwright, Administrative Services Manager, explained that county HHS organizations are the third largest spending category behind schools and public safety in the county budget.

Our Social Services Department helps the disadvantaged navigate a complicated  myriad of federal, state and local assistance programs. The supervisors commended DSS Director Kimberley Jefferson for the efforts her department made to correct a reporting deficit, caused by slow state computer system, that “dinged”  the county audit last year.  Jefferson reported that her department is fully staffed “for the first time in years” and explained that, by using part-time employees, they were able to process benefit eligibility in a timely manner.  

Other organizations work with at risk youth; provide mental health assistance and deal with the opioid epidemic. The Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, which provides health care and basic human services to those who  may have “fallen through the cracks” of society continues its good work.

The Goochland Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library provides informational services, including an expanding array of ways to access materials electronically. It also offers, in conjunction with the Friends of the Goochland Library, a summer reading program.  Story times, book groups, and other lifelong learning opportunities and places for people to interact are provided by our  library.

Being part of the Pamunkey system allows cardholders access to a much wider range of material and services than would be available if Goochland had a stand- alone library in a cost-effective manner. Cards are free to residents of the county. Be sure to stop by soon and sign up for one if you are not already a member. Go to http://www.pamunkeylibrary.org/goochland.htm for more details.

The county’s budget for FY 2018, which began July 1, earmarked a bit more than  $5.4 million for health and welfare programs.











Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Civic Virtue


Every day brings new allegations of the sleazy behavior of people in public life. Things are different here.

On Monday, December 11, Goochland County celebrated the career of Frances Carter Ragland, who retires at the end of 2017.  During her 25 year tenure as General Registrar, Ragland safeguarded the most precious rite of the American system—the vote—to  ensure honest, fair, and impartial elections.

The new parking lot in front of the county administration was filled with cars of friends and associates who came from near and far to pay tribute to Ragland.

Filling the boots of Frances Ragland will be a daunting task.


Ned Creasey, District 3, Chair of the Goochland Board of Supervisors, offered opening remarks:

 “We gather here to pay tribute to Frances Ragland, who has been the gatekeeper of the most previous thing we have—our vote—since March, 1992. This is not an easy task. She is a jewel. In addition to her duties as registrar, Frances has also been an active fire-rescue volunteer with Courthouse Company 5 as an emergency medical technician and running its yard sales. We wish her well.”

A resolution, unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors at its December 5 meeting unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors reads as follows:

WHEREAS, it is the desire of the Goochland County Board of Supervisors to give well deserved acknowledgement and recognition to Ms. Frances Carter Ragland who has rendered exemplary service to the citizens of Goochland County; Goochland County Departments, State and local Electoral Boards, State and local elected officials, Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District and others;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland, after serving as an assistant to the then Goochland County Attorney, was employed as Assistant Voter Registrar in 1985; and WHEREAS, on March 1, 1992, Ms. Frances Ragland was appointed Voter Registrar to succeed Helen Dunn, and has served the voters of Goochland County with the utmost distinction for 32 years;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland supervised seven Presidential Primaries, seven Presidential Elections, seven Gubernatorial Elections, fourteen House of Delegates elections, and countless elections for County Supervisors, Clerk of the Court, Sheriff, Treasurer, Commissioner of the Revenue, School Board, Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District, political party primaries, special elections for vacancies and the only audit of Optical Scan Ballot tallies ever approved by the State Board of Elections — an audit of hand-counted ballots that proved machine results to be 100% accurate;
WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland established a sterling reputation among her fellow General Registrars, and especially among employees, and successive directors of the State Department of Elections in Richmond, for rigid adherence to the rule of law established by the Code of Virginia, despite all relaxed interpretations or suggested “alternate” procedures;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland has burnished a reputation among Goochland County political party chairs, and candidates, for strict dedication to election laws, candidate deadlines and financial reporting that has eliminated the need for fines and penalties for late filings;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland directed the creation and organization of the first Central Absentee Precinct in 2003 which provided for Absentee Ballots to be counted in one location, rather than at individual precincts on election night after close of polls;

 WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland oversaw the change from Mechanical-Lever voting machines to Touchscreen DRE voting machines and then to Optical Scan paper ballot voting;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland implemented Electronic Poll Books in every precinct, which greatly increased the efficiency of elections and reduced the time voters spend in line waiting to cast their ballots;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland participated in and orchestrated three decennial redistricting’s of the county’s five magisterial districts, and now ten polling precincts;

WHEREAS, over the course of a quarter century, Ms. Frances Ragland personally taught, trained, improved, and inspired eight previous political party partisans to become impartial, non-partisan and effective Electoral Board members;

WHEREAS, Ms. Frances Ragland has created, encouraged, and sustained a culture of civic virtue that continues to inspire Goochland voters to achieve the highest percentage turnout of active voters among all jurisdictions in the Commonwealth.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Goochland County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of the citizens of Goochland County, hereby commends, recognizes, appreciates, and sincerely thanks Ms. Ragland for her exemplary and unremitting dedication and service to Goochland County and offers her best wishes for a well-earned and happy retirement.

Frances Ragland  with supervisors. (Photo courtesy of Goochland County)


The positive environment for civic engagement at the polls nurtured by Ragland encouraged and inspired Goochland voters to the highest percentage turnout of active voters among all jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia for many elections, especially presidential ones.

Robin Lind, current secretary of the Goochland Electoral Board, said that Ragland trained  many electoral board members to be impartial servants of the people. “This is a day of joy mingled with sadness,” Lind said. “Frances has been the rock upon which we based our foundation. She is self-effacing and lives the ideals of duty, trust, integrity, patriotism, and non-partisanship.”

Ragland, Lind said, is persistent, detail oriented, and follows all election law in the Code of Virginia to the letter. Her reputation for adhering to the letter of proper electoral procedure was such that people on the State Board of Elections in Richmond “did not relish a call from Goochland.”

“We are not likely to see a public servant like this again in our lifetimes,” Lind declared. “If we can emulate the civic virtue of Frances Ragland, we will achieve the highest standard that can be attained.”

Ever self-effacing, Ragland briefly thanked everyone for attending the event and their good wishes.

Heywood Pace, who was active in the 2011 redistricting after the last census, said that Ragland and her staff were always generous with their time in dealing with him. “I always left her office feeling good about our discussions.” He noted that during her tenure in office, Ragland presided over the election of the first African-American Governor of Virginia; first African-America President; and the first presidential election with a woman candidate.

Dr. Clara Belle Wheeler, Vice Chair of  the SBE said that Ragland brought integrity and honesty to the job of registrar and is a firm supporter of the Code of Virginia. She helped voters who needed guidance properly and correctly. “When I needed an honest assessment of real world conditions, I called Frances,” Wheeler recalled. “We need people with her strength of character in the election world. She leaves big boots to fill.”

Lind has said that it will be impossible to replace Ragland. The search is on for her successor, someone well-acquainted with Virginia election procedures. Finding the next Goochland registrar will be a daunting task indeed.

May the next half of Frances Ragland’s life be filled with joy and laughter.



Monday, December 11, 2017

The broken record plays on



Yet another residential rezoning case came before the Goochland Planning Commission at its December 7 meeting. This one, for a community called Swann’s Inn, seeks to rezone approximately 23 acres on River Road West in Courthouse Village, opposite Parrish Ford, to increase the number of homes from 16 to 30.

Rezoned for residential use in 2016, the  Swann’s Inn change seems to have been prompted by the availability of additional wastewater capacity from the treatment plant at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women, and perhaps, the chance to save some money. The application offered cash proffers of  $2,735 per home, far less than offered on the original rezoning application.  Smaller lots sizes are appropriate when municipal sewer is available. The revised density for Swann’s Inn is below the threshold for Courthouse Village.

Following the usual presentation about the dearth of comprehensive data about the fiscal impact of new homes on the county, the Commissioners voted 3-2 to deny recommendation of approval for the case. Commissioners John Shelhorse, District 4, and John Myers, District1, supported recommending approval of the plan. It will move to the Board of Supervisors in January, where it will probably meet the fate of other recent residential rezoning applications—deferral until the county has crafted and adopted its fiscal impact model, sometime early in the new year.

Director of Community Development Jo Ann Pointed out that the developers of Swann’s Inn originally hoped to create a 26 lot subdivision, but the number of homes on larger lots was reduced to accommodate septic systems.

There was no mention of the expected price of these homes, which according to the application, will feature Craftsman architecture, and be in the neighborhood of 2,000 square feet. As land in general is less expensive outside of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District and this enclave is close to three of the county’s five schools, these homes would, at the right price, be attractive to teachers. As high housing costs in Goochland are often cited as an impediment to retaining teachers, the expected price should have been mentioned.

Commissioners Derek Murray, District 3, and Matt Brewer, District 2, contended that they are charged with acting on the best interests of the county as a whole, and were not comfortable making any decision on residential rezoning cases without a clear picture of the consequences of adding more homes to the county.


The Commission then addressed “housekeeping” matters for  the 114 bed, 208,000 square foot Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital to be built in the Notch at West Creek, roughly opposite the Wawa, south of Broad Street Road. The certificate of public need (COPN) approval on this was issued earlier this year.  An arrangement to have the Goochland Economic Development Authority issue bonds for its construction  was approved last summer.

 The property recently changed hands and a parcel left over from construction of Rt. 288, was recommended for M-1 rezoning to conform to West Creek. A conditional use permit is required for heights exceeding 60 feet. Including the  parapet screen for utilities the new hospital is expected to be 86 feet from grade.  Matt Brewer, District 2, asked that the record note the 86 foot height. The staff summary includes a statement that Goochland Fire-Rescue has no issue with the plan and will be capable of serving the increased height of the building.

This structure will be the tallest in Goochland, its location, just east of Rt. 288, is in an area designated for prime economic development. The master plan includes potential expansion.   The commissioners also recommended approval of amending the West Creek master plan to include the Sheltering Arms project

This hospital has been in the works for the better part of the year, and is not another new hospital, as some confused media outlets seem to believe. The MEDRVA folks are seeking a COPN to add an outpatient surgery center to the existing facility in the Notch. These are all wonderful additions to Goochland, but nothing new.

Although a non-profit organization, the hospital will connect to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District and is expected to attract additional  for profit  development to the area.

A CUP for a pole vault training center in West Creek was unanimously recommended for approval following a brief presentation and no public comment. This will be in the Manakin Trade Center on West Creek Parkway, using 14,000 square feet of the space formerly occupied by Direct Buy.

The Commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a zoning ordinance amendment to require anyone offering short term rentals, less than 30 days, to obtain a conditional use permit to operate a bed and breakfast. This amendment removes “renting rooms to tourists” from the home occupation section. Short term rentals, said Hunter, will be addressed more comprehensively in the zoning ordinance rewrite underway. This change provides clarity in the meantime.  Citizens have expressed concern about transient, unknown people in neighborhoods when rooms or homes are rented short term.