Thursday, August 22, 2019

Morsels on my mind

Worthy of your attention:

Goochland Leadership Enterprise
If you are new to the county, puzzled by election year rhetoric, or would just like to learn more about Goochland, the Goochland Leadership Enterprise program explores different facets of life in the county. This is a great way to meet people you might not otherwise encounter and share differing points of view on local issues.

 In operation since 1996, graduates of GLE participate in all corners of our community.  Graduates include elected and appointed officials, county staff, leaders and volunteers at local non-profit organizations like Christmas Mother and Goochland Cares, and engaged citizens.

Classes held on Wednesday evenings at various places around the county include local history; agriculture; county government; education; public safety; community services; the budget; and the opportunity to interact with elected officials at the local and state level.  The registration fee is $55. Classes begin October 18 and finish with an April graduation dinner.
Go to for an application.

Goochland in World War II

The Goochland Historical Society has paced a wonderful display about Goochland in World War II  at the Goochland Branch Library. Portraits of local boys who went off to fight and their stories are displayed in the hall leading to the meeting room. Homefront artifacts fill glass cases. If you’re old enough to remember these men and items, take a walk down memory lane. Or, bring the children in your life and talk about things that happened before they were born!

See photos and stories about local "boys" who went to war.

Civil defense spotters used the identification wheel to watch for enemy aircraft in the skies over Goochland.

Pantry staples that helped win the war.

While you’re there, sign up for a library card if you do not already have one. They’re free for Goochland residents and entitle you to borrow materials from the extensive collection of the Pamunkey Regional Library, both in person and online.  Go to to see what’s available at your library.

Sports Backers 8K training team 2019 at Goochland YMCA

Training will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 21 at the Goochland Y, on River Road West opposite the library. Membership in the YMCA is not required to be part of the training, but non-members will receive a guest pass for eight free Y visits during the eight-week training period.

Coaches for the 2019 Goochland team are: Rob Carscadden – Intermediate; Pam Gannon – Novice; and Tom Zidar – Walking. 

Participants will receive: an 8 week training program starting Saturday, September 21 with a detailed written schedule; personal guidance from a team of experienced coaches; organized and supported Saturday group runs.; Sports Backers 8k Training Team shirt; teams built around experience and ability to train others of similar pace;  2019 Allianz Partners 8k entry and all associated race benefits; an Allianz Partners 8k long sleeve technical shirt; access to clinics on shoes and running attire and what to expect on race day.

Child care provided every Saturday during training by the Goochland YMCA (non- YMCA members will receive this benefit as well).

*Those who make $25,000 or less annually or receive proven TANF, Food Stamp, or Energy Assistance Benefits from Social Services are eligible for a special $10 rate for the 8k Training Team. Anyone interested in taking advantage of this income-based entry fee, visit the GOOCHLAND FAMILY YMCA to apply.  Or, call (804) 556-9887 and ask for Krista Evans.
Contact Nakonsavon Lucy (804) 410-1166 call/text with questions.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

And they're back

On August 20, 1827, Goochland Circuit Court met for the first time in the venerable courthouse still in use today. On August 20, 2019, Judge Timothy K. Sanner, in that same courtroom, agreed to issue an order recognizing a boundary line map mutually agreed to by Goochland and Louisa counties. The exact line between the two jurisdictions near Gum Spring may well have been in doubt for the life of the courthouse.

The wooden benches in the courtroom were filled with voters disenfranchised by the matter, elected officials, county staff, candidates for office, and other interested people. 

Goochland County Attorney Tara McGee, who presented the petition in court, credited the geographic information staffs for both counties with creation of a precise boundary reflecting where people pay taxes and receive local government services. The new line was drafted using GIS data—300 coordinates—parcel by parcel.

The legal work was handled by McGee’s staff, Assistant County Attorney Kalli Jackson, and paralegal Christina Neale. Angela Daniels, interim county attorney for Louisa County, worked with the Goochland team and attended the hearing.

The intrepid team that  fixed the boundary. LtR Kalli Jackson, Randy Buzzard, Tara McGee,Jon Worley. Matthias Smith*, John Budesky, Christian Godwin* and  Jeff Ferrell*. Not pictured Christina Neale and  Angela Daniels*. Asterisk denotes folks from Louisa County.

There are still ten parcels surrounded by the other county that need to be dealt with on an individual basis, McGee told Judge Sanner. Those cases will come before the court sometime in the future.

Sanner examined the taxing map and reviewed accompanying documents. He saw no reason not to issue the order as all requirements stated in the Code of Virginia had been met. The order will have an effective date of August 20, 2019.

The court order adopting this map provides a legal basis for electoral boards and general registrars of both counties to return misplaced voters to the precincts where they cast their ballots in previous years, in time for this year’s local elections.

This resolution of a tricky situation was the result of relentless citizen engagement and county government exploring every possible avenue to find a way to return disenfranchised voters to the county where they pay taxes and receive local government services. Kudos to all for not giving up.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Managing public funds

On Tuesday, August 6 the Goochland county Finance and Audit committee, attended by representatives from the Board of Supervisors, county staff and school division, met to kick off the audit for FY2019, which ended on June 30.

Mike Garber, principal with PBMares, the outside accounting firm retained to prepare Goochland’s certified annual financial report (CAFR), said that, for the first time in ten years, Goochland is no longer a high-risk auditee. This designation was the result of years of dysfunction and mismanagement capped off by the embezzlement public funds by a former treasurer.

Garber also reported that the transition audit, mandated at the retirement of our previous treasurer, Pam Johnson on June 30, was clean. Pam Duncan, who was appointed county treasurer after Johnson retired, is a candidate for the office and in attendance at the meeting.

Error free audits are the result of a lot of hard work and attention to detail, and adherence to policy by every county department, school staff and all Constitutional Officers.

It was a bit troubling that Neil Spoonhower seeking the District 2 supervisor seat, was the only candidate new to county government who attended the meeting. Stewardship of public funds is the most important task of elected officials and they must be able to understand the county’s complicated budget. 

(Please take a look at past CAFRs, especially that from 2010, available on the county website under financial services.)

Board Vice Chair, Susan Lascolette, District 1, a member of the audit committee, raised concerns about an incident in Spotsylvania County, where a phishing scheme recently stole $600,000 of public money.

County Director of Finance Barbara Horlacher and Schools’ Finance Director Debbie White said that there are many internal controls in place in Goochland government financial activities. Vigilance on the part of all staff to question anything that looks “off” and receive confirmation of transactions through other means, by a phone call, perhaps, is the best way to combat these assaults.

Garber explained that the annual audit includes testing to ensure that controls stated in policy work in practice. For instance, an employee will be asked to access an account, which they have no authority to use, just to make sure safeguards are working. He also said that PBMares does not opine on internal controls but does look at them and offer suggestions for improvement.

Among PBMare’s many local government clients in Virginia, Goochland is usually the first to approve its CAFR before the late November deadline established by the state, observed Garber. For the past few years, Goochland supervisors have held special called meetings for this purpose.

Horlacher presented the latest update on year end numbers, which are not yet final. The county took in approximately $5.8 million more than it spent. The overage will be used for items not included in the approved budget with some funds set aside for the county’s revenue stabilization, AKA the “rainy day”  fund, to, as District 5 Supervisor Ken Peterson likes to say, “smooth out lumps” caused by economic downturns without raising tax rates.

Horlacher explained that the supervisors would be asked to approve—which they did during the regular meeting—a request for a one-time transfer of $60,000 to the Goochland Social Services Specialist Welfare Account. Due to vacancies and the receipt of additional funds due to Medicaid expansion, the Social Services Department had a larger than usual balance of local funds remaining at the end of the fiscal year.  Of those funds, $30 K will be for Special Welfare Foster Care Discretionary with the balance going to Special Welfare Discretionary expenses.

The supervisors also agreed to a request from schools to amend the FY 2020 capital improvement program (CIP) budget by reallocating $300 thousand from school projects funded with FY2019 amendments for the generator project at Byrd Elementary School that came in over budget due to a bad estimate.  Debbie White,  school division director of finance, explained that the overlap of the end of the school and fiscal year, and need to complete the projects during the summer, caused the need for reallocation of available funds. This does not require additional funds, but policies in place require approval of the Board of Supervisors to move money from one account to another in excess of a certain threshold.

Horlacher said that phase I of the county’s new enterprise resource planning software has been successfully completed. The board authorized County Administrator John Budesky to execute a contract for not more than $99,433 with Berry Dunn McNeil & Parker, LLC for transitional project management services for phase 2, which includes the human resources and payroll modules.
During the regular afternoon session, both Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2 and Budesky commended those involved in the massive countywide software update, which will replace old systems with new and connected software for improved productivity. Phase 1 was completed on time and on budget, “not an easy task,” observed Alvarez.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Reading, writing, 'rithmetic, and so much more

The 2019-20 school year got off to a high energy start for Goochland teachers at the division’s annual convocation held at the high school on Monday, August 12.

Flowing into the building, teachers greeted friends old and new. Snippets of conversations floating through the air included excited discussion of plans for the new year.

School officials were joined by 22nd District State Senator Mark Peake and 56th District Delegate John McGuire, who represent Goochland in the Virginia General Assembly as well as Chair of the Goochland Board of Supervisors, Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2; Ken Peterson, District 5; and John Lumpkins, Jr., District 3, a former school board member.

Sally Graham, executive director of Goochland Cares ( welcomed the teachers back to school and said that they are the first line of contact to identify families in need of the services offered by her organization.

“If you call us, we will help. Our mantra is “the answer is yes” because we are a private non-profit and able to make exceptions,” Graham said. Goochland Cares offers a wide range of services including the food pantry; emergency housing, critical home repairs; and health care for adults with incomes up to 300 percent of the poverty level. All information shared with Goochland Cares is confidential. “We are HIPPA on steroids,” Graham declared.

She invited all teachers to visit the new Goochland Cares facility on River Road West in Courthouse Village. It houses all services under one roof. “People don’t quite get what we do until they visit,” said Graham.

This reminder underscores the delicate task of teaching in Goochland, where students come from all walks of life. Maximizing the potential of every learner—one of the worthy goals of our school division—can be derailed by difficult personal circumstances.

Dr. Stephen Geyer, reflected on the hard tasks accomplished teachers last year, made possible by the teamwork and collaboration among teachers. A supportive school administration backstopped by an active and engaged school board that truly understands the needs and aspirations of teaches are all part of Team Goochland. 

Geyer also said that the extraordinary support of the supervisors—in many jurisdictions school board members and supervisors have an adversarial relationship—is an integral part of the successes of Goochland Schools.

School Board Chairperson John Wright, District 5, welcomed the teachers back. “Are all of you as excited as I am about the upcoming school year?” he asked. Wright observed that all people are creative. Inspiring students to find the spark of creativity within themselves and use that as a foundation for learning is the mark of a good teacher. “Rules and regulations kill creativity,” Wright declared.

John Hendron, Director of Innovation and Strategy observed that honor is a noun and a verb.  He said that the winners of this year’s G21 Award—marking its tenth anniversary—is the team from Byrd elementary for making learning come alive for their students. This award recognizes teachers who are focused on developing more constructivist-based learning experiences for students and developing their skills to design and implement those experiences.

This year"s G21 award winners from Byrd Elementary

Hendron thanked the Goochland Education Foundation for its help to make this awesome learning take place.

Service awards were presented for Team Goochland members with five-year service increments Maye Higgs, marking 30 years with the division was celebrated with cheers, applause and a standing ovation.

Kelley E. Taylor, 2018 teacher of the year introduced Cynthia A. Shelton-Eide, 2019 teacher of the year. Shelton-Eide, a ceramics teacher at GHS, praised her colleagues, who she described as rock stars. “They have a deep sense of care and respect. They support each other on the bad days who recognize the struggles we face.  My students taught me what it means to have a life of purpose.”

Shelton-Eide said that making mud into something useful is transformative. “Why make room for ceramics in a tech savvy world?” she asked. “No one knows if our students will ever use what we teach. We must teach skills that will endure, love for learning, belief in oneself, and risk taking.”

Teachers, Shelton-Eide said, play the long game and hope the lessons we teach will make it to the final goal. “Students look to us for real connection, something they may not get elsewhere and the gift or learning something new without instant gratification.”

School Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley said that the 400 reasons that make GCPS the number one school division in the Richmond region for two years running were in the room.  “It’s what you do every day to maximize the potential of every learner that makes us special. Thank you.”

Raley acknowledged that teaching is not all high spots. “On those days when you want to take a long walk off a short pier, never forget that you have the power to make a positive impact on your students. Yes, you matter for the critical role you play in your students’ lives.

“Excellence, Raley declared, is in your DNA. You have the courage to advocate for kids when it’s not popular. Every child can succeed, but you can’t take care of kids if you don’t take care of yourself. We work together as team Goochland and that is why we are awesome!”

The pep rally ended appropriately with the high school band playing high energy music.
Teachers have a difficult, and often thankless job. Goochland is blessed with a cadre of find people who go the extra mile to help our students discover their individual gifts and prepare for successful lives.

The Bulldog band ended Convocation with rousing music.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Belt and suspenders

The most important actions taken at the Tuesday, August 6 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors were adoption of a new electoral map amending the boundary line between Goochland and Louisa Counties to reflect the boundary which is derived from parcel boundaries, and adoption of a boundary line agreement between Goochland and Louisa Counties, which recognizes where property owners pay taxes and receive services.

Adopting both maps simultaneously was described as a “belt and suspenders” approach to resolving the issue of disenfranchised voters by Goochland County Attorney Tara McGee. She explained that there is a taxing boundary, which determines where people pay taxes and receive services, and a census boundary, determined by the United States Census Bureau. These lines are determined by two different processes and determined by two different entities.

But, McGee said, “there is no guarantee under law that these two boundaries are the same,” which is the case for a portion of the Goochland/Louisa line. The actions before the supervisors were designed to align the taxing boundary and the census boundary. If the boundary of a county changes, the “freezing” of precincts on February 1, as mandated by the census bureau, does not apply and they can be amended, said McGee.

The new parcel boundary map matches current electronic data that both counties submitted to the U.S. Census Bureau this year in preparation for the upcoming decennial census in 2020. McGee’s staff also learned that localities are entitled to update their census borders annually.

Goochland Supervisors unanimously approved a boundary line agreement between Goochland and Louisa Counties. The Louisa Board of Supervisors approved an identical agreement, but not unanimously, on August 5. This agreed boundary line recognizes where property owners currently pay taxes and receive services, is consistent with the border used by both localities’ GIS systems, and is the boundary both localities recently submitted to the US Census Bureau. The Goochland County Attorney’s office prepared the agreement.

After both items were approved by both counties, a petition was filed with Goochland Circuit Court requesting an order recognizing the changes.  A court order provides a separate legal foundation to reassign voters if the order is issued before September 5. Only the general registrar and electoral board have the authority to return misplaced voters to the jurisdiction where they pay taxes and receive services belongs. It is hoped that a court order recognizing the boundary mutually agreed upon by both Goochland and Louisa counties will be viewed by the registrars and electoral boards as legal grounds to return voters to the jurisdiction where they pay taxes and received services.

The bulk of the work to determine a precise boundary was done by Geographic information systems (GIS) departments of both counties. These (GIS) maps, McGee said, are drawn using actual land records, surveys, deeds, and maps filed in county courthouses. Coordinates for each parcel, three hundred total entries, were included, which, McGee said, is an acceptable basis for boundary identification under state law.

These actions will not resolve all issues. There are still approximately ten parcels—described by McGee as “donut holes”—surrounded by the other county. Those will need separate action in the future.

Electoral Board Secretary Robin Lind rose in support of both items and said he was extremely impressed by the work of McGee and her staff on the matter. Lind said, if these are enacted, he is “well assured that we will bring our people home.”

Wendy Hobbs, District 2 supervisor candidate, also supported both motions. She commended the board for demonstrating its ability to look for solutions to the problem; making voters a priority; and proposing a corrected boundary line this year rather than waiting until the 2021 post census redistricting.

“I want to thank you for moving this issue in the right direction. You spent a lot of time and effort addressing this. I had confidence that this board could do something to make this right for our citizens. This impacted everybody. While we don’t have final solution, when we put citizens first, we all win. I commend you for doing something when people said you couldn’t do anything. You’ve done something to move the meter in the right direction and I look forward to our people moving back to Goochland to vote where they belong,” said Hobbs.

McGee gave credit for the legal initiatives to her staff. Kalli Jackson, assistant county attorney, brought the boundary line petition to fruition when McGee was out of the office for medical reasons. Paralegal Christina Neale went line by line to make sure the ordinance was accurate. Her staff, she said, did a deep dive into the law searching for a legal remedy.

The 46-page petition to the Circuit Court has been posted on the county website  next to the calendar. It contains an impressive amount of detail, including maps, and is testament to the hard work by all involved.

Affected voters have been notified by mail of the actions. A hearing on the petition will take place in Goochland Circuit Court at 2 p.m. on August 20.

While there is no guarantee that this initiative will reverse the disenfranchisement for many voters, the hard work and ingenuity of all involved to find a solution to this problem is commendable.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A night out on the Courthouse Green

National Night Out sponsored by the Goochland Sheriff’s Office on August 6 on the Courthouse Green—thank you Judge Sanner for allowing the use of the space—was a rousing success.

More than 350 people—well in excess of the 250 expected—attended. Members of American Legion Post 215 grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and provided other treats to the hungry crowd.
Members of AMERICAN LEGION Post 215 fed the crowd.

Participants included: the Goochland Robotics teams; emergency management with tips for making a family disaster plan;  Virginia State Police; Goochland Schools, Sunshine Bus and CTE program;  Goochland CASA; the United States Army; the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; the Goochland Mountain Bike Team; Goochland United Soccer Association (GUSA); Capital One; Drive Shack; Audi of Richmond; Parrish Ford; Envoy at the Meadows; Goochland Cares; Salem Baptist Church; CSX Railroad; Goochland Fire-Rescue;  and other community partners.

The robotics team showed off its creation.

There were bounce houses and face painting, and balloon creations and demonstrations, even one by K-9 officers.

A gracious plenty of marvelous LEOs (law enforcement officers) displayed the tools of their trade.
Explaining the tools of the trade

Folks picked their way through the construction for the security annex addition to the courthouse and had a good time. They visited the various booths, chatted with old friends and made new ones.

Virginia State Troopers participated.

Thanks to the Sheriff’s Office for providing this opportunity for the community to gather on a sultry summer night. Even though the event had been planned months ago, sharing the goodness of Goochland was restorative and comforting after last week’s terrible events elsewhere.  May  God bless and keep our LEOs as they serve and protect.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Grappling with change

Change is the only constant, they say. That couldn’t be truer in Goochland. For some people, change cannot arrive soon enough, others want everything to stay the same forever. Both will be disappointed.

The agenda of the Thursday, August 1 Planning Commission meeting was a good illustration of land use issues facing Goochland. (The public hearing on the Manakintowne mixed use project was deferred to September 5.) It also included approval of a final plat for the Reed Marsh subdivision, which was approved in May.

Items addressed by the commissioners ranged from a rezoning request that could result in construction of a seven-story hotel on the north side of Broad Street Road between Audi of Richmond and Rt. 288, to a down zoning request from rural preservation to agricultural use. In between were applications for a new use for an existing estate and rezoning to create a modest nine lot single family subdivision near Oilville.

The rezoning application submitted by LJP Properties, LLC for 3.327 acres between Audi of Richmond was for a change from B-1 to B-3 (interchange commercial) to facilitate the possible location of a hotel of up to seven stories. The B-3 zoning district was created about 10 years ago to enable the county to encourage commercial development at interstate exits. This classification permits additional heights for properties very close to these interchanges. This is the first application for B3 zoning.

There could not be a better location for a hotel in Centerville. It is opposite a hotel under construction on the south side of Broad Street Road. Attitudinally the property is in Short Pump, but Goochland reaps the benefit of the business here.

Why does Goochland need hotels? Simple, we host events that attract out of town visitors, like soccer tournaments and the Deep Run Horse Show. The visitors attend events in Goochland then go to Henrico to eat and sleep and take their sales tax and other revenues with them. The county hopes to ramp up agritourism to combine rural pursuits and commerce.

A companion conditional use permit (CUP)application, also filed by LJP Properties would permit parking for the employees of the Audi store. Both applications were unanimously approved.

The next item was an application for a CUP to allow River Run Manor, a river front estate just east of Courthouse Village on Route 6 in Maidens, to operate a winery; event venue; hosted bed and breakfast; and living quarters for the owner Andrew Moody and his family. This 61.302-acre property is anchored by an elegant 17,804 square foot home, which has been on the market for approximately five years.  Changes to the site will include a parking lot. One neighbor said he did not move to the country to “look at a Walmart parking lot” from his front door.

Neighbors objected to the property’s use as an event venue citing noise, traffic, disruption of their tranquil environment, and changing its land use from agricultural to commercial, which they believe is inappropriate. An adjoining property owner said that there is no physical demarcation, such as a fence, to mark the parcel boundary and had concerns about trespassing by adventurous guests. This was not addressed.

The applicant argued that noise generated from events at River Run Manor, which would attract high end clients, will be minimal as most activities will occur in the climate-controlled interior.  County staff said that if terms of the CUP are violated, it may be revoked. The Commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval. The application will move to the supervisors, probably at their September meeting, for final disposition.

Developer High View, LLC presented a rezoning application for 23.87 acres on Hanover Road from agricultural to R-1 residential to create Carver Oaks, a nine-lot single family home subdivision.

The homes will be no smaller than 2,500 square feet, not including garages on lots averaging 2.3 acres—no less than 1.5 acres—with expected “price points” around $400,000. Ample buffering around the edges of the new community and adequate turn lanes off the single access point to Hanover Road were included in the application. The Commission gave the application its unanimous recommendation for approval.

Howard D. Nuckols filed an application to down zone 222.206 acres from rural preservation zoning, which was approved in 2005 for a 44-lot subdivision, to A-2 agricultural. Nuckols decided it will be easier to pass the land along to his children with agricultural zoning. The application received a unanimous recommendation for approval by the Commission, and words of praise from citizens working to temper high density residential development in the northeastern part of Goochland.