Monday, July 12, 2010

July in the board room

A new fiscal year

The July meeting of the Goochland board of supervisors was pretty routine.

Goochland Sheriff Jim Agnew reported that his department has responded to an unusual number of larcenies in the past month. He warned all Goochland residents to be extra careful and to lock up equipment including lawn tractors and vehicles. Agnew also advised against leaving valuables including cell phones and computers in unattended and unlocked cars.

Wayne Allen, who has served as interim Fire-Rescue Chief since January, was thanked by the board for his service. William Mackay was introduced as the county’s new Fire-Rescue Chief. He started work on June 28.

The board also presented Martin Marietta, Allen’s employer with a resolution of appreciation for their support of the organization. Businesses in Goochland who permit their employees who are fire-rescue volunteers to leave work to respond to emergencies rarely receive any recognition for this important public service contribution.

The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution to send to the state against creation of a shooting range on the Powhatan side of the James River for Virginia State Police and FBI use as well as not expanding the existing shooting range at the James River Correction Center in Goochland. Several citizens presented thoughtful and well researched comments against the facility.

Some of the ammunition expected to be used at such a facility is capable of traveling 15,842 feet according to Bob Williams, who lives opposite the proposed facility in Maidens. He estimated that Rt. 6 is about 12,000 feet from the proposed range and contended that little thought had been given to liability potential when selecting the site.

One speaker contended that Goochland and Powhatan have the highest number of felons per capita in the Commonwealth thanks to the high concentration of correctional facilities in the two counties. Funny, you never see this statistic quoted by “local” journalists.

Others contended that locating the facility in the James River basin would only amplify sounds exacerbating noise issues. The proposed facility is expected to offer training in both day and nighttime conditions.

Law enforcement officers must be well trained to for their safety and ours. However, that training should not pose the slightest threat to nearby residents. Such a facility should be located well away from populated areas and certainly not near high end homes whose property values could be threatened, having a negative impact on already depressed local government tax revenues.

Surely there must be other places to locate this facility. Why not put a shooting range underground to contain both noise and stray ordinance for everyone’s comfort and safety?

John Wright of the Goochland Parents Education Association (GEPA) asked that the supervisors request an investigation of goings on in the Goochland School system by the Virginia Department of Education. He questioned several school actions and contended that some administrative positions had been funded by monies appropriated for instructional salaries. (Wright’s remarks can be heard about 58 minutes into the recording of the afternoon session available on the county website under the board of supervisors’ section)

Board chair William Quarles, Jr. District 2 said that it is improper for one elected board to investigate another and dismissed the GEPA request with no input from fellow board members. Although Quarles was quick to recuse himself from a recent rezoning case due to kinship with the applicant, he failed to mention his familial connection to District 2 school board member Raymond Miller.

School administration is working so hard to discredit GEPA that you have to wonder what is going on there and why.

Butler said he was concerned about the possible legal ramifications if the supervisors had been mislead to misappropriate school money

Quarles said that school superintendent Dr. Linda Underwood informed him that she is looking into such an investigation.

Yes, it seems that the system that needs to be investigated is going to retain its own investigators and pay them with tax dollars that should be used to run the schools. Stay tuned.

The board went into closed session following a vague explanation concerning discussion of legal advice with the county attorney. We can only hope that the discussion concerned possible legal action against those who so royally botched up the county’s finances as revealed by the 2009 Certified Annual Financial Report, CAFR.

Speaking of CAFRs, Ron Churchman, the KPMG partner in charge for Goochland’s audit, explained the parameters of the upcoming FY 2010 CAFR to the supervisors, a service rarely, if ever, performed by the previous auditors.

District 5 Supervisor Jim Eads, who derailed the morning’s strategic planning session on economic development, asked some interesting and very pertinent questions about fraud. Perhaps he’s just not a morning person.

The auditing team, explained Churchman, would ask for clarification and backtrack to ensure that it had and understood all pertinent information before raising concerns about fraud. He also said that KPMG would first inform the supervisors about possible fraud.

The exchange was quite interesting. Please listen for yourself. Churchman’s remarks occur about one hour and 30 minutes into the recording.

During public hearings at the evening session, the board unanimously approved continuation of a conditional use permit for the studio of local photographer Jeff Mabry on Sandy Hook Road.

The board also unanimously approved a CUP for a car wash as an accessory use to a convenience store planned for construction in the extreme northeast corner of Goochland on Pouncey Tract Road.

This enterprise is poised to tap revenues from Henrico and Hanover residents and has the collateral benefit of extending water and sewer lines to the northern boundaries of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, which should attract other businesses to the area.

Eads’ silence on the matter is curious given that during the morning’s strategic planning session he declared “there will be no water and sewer north of Centerville for years to come.” The explanatory slides for the CUP application, however, included an aerial map of the surrounding area illustrating the location of existing TCSD water and sewer lines well north of Centerville that were installed several years ago.

County attorney Norman Sales presented amendments to county zoning ordinances necessitated by actions taken by the General Assembly.


jd said...

I pointed out, quite well I thought, that I wasn't asking the BOS to investigate the School Board and Superintendent, but rather to make a request of the Dept of Education to do an investigation. It was obvious that Mr. Quarles wasn't going to even consider such a move, despite the verbal and written evidence of a dire need to do so.

What is perplexing though is that 3 members of the board supported my request (as indicated by their comments and questions, as well as private comments to me following the session), yet no one made a motion to put the collective weight of the BOS behind the request. Are they so routined in their opposition to one another that they don't even try to make progress anymore?

Immediately following my comments, another citizen well known to the board and public uncharacteristically stood and briefly read the riot act to the board for not listening to repeated requests from it's citizens. Mr. Quarles addressed this comment as though he was trying to keep order in an unruly classroom of preschoolers.

His relation to Mr. Miller is more than noteworthy, in my opinion. Why he doesn't recuse himself as he did on matters of far smaller consequence is puzzling.

John Wright

Richard Saunders said...

Chairman Quarles is part of the ruling family in Goochland County. Part of his job is to support his family in the form of Mr. Miller.