Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October meeting of the Goochland supervisors

Government in action

The Goochland County board of supervisors opened its October 2010 meeting with the annual employee recognition ceremonies. Local governmental employees marking service in multiples of five years were honored.

The toil of these earnest folk represents more than three centuries of government service on behalf of the citizens of Goochland.

County government has a good reputation among residents. Newcomers who visit the administration building to register to vote or pay taxes for the first time often comment on the high quality of service they received and the cordiality and helpfulness of the county staff.

Indeed, during the meeting, county administrator Rebecca T. Dickson informed the supervisors that a grateful citizen made an anonymous $1,000 donation for uniforms and supplies for the county's animal control officers. The donor cited the exceptional response by those officers to an animal related issue in her area.

The board also recognized Robert A. Hammond, who retired at the end of September for his 30 years of service. Hammond wore many hats during his years with the county. He also worked on virtually all of the growth and development that took place as Goochland morphed from a bucolic backwater into whatever it is today. Achieving a workable balance between the property rights of landowners and the public good is often a thankless task at best. Hammond’s longevity in the position is evidence of a rare skill set.

Once again the meeting was notable for its blandness. In spite of much oration about increasing the transparency of local government, the supervisors seem content to permit the county administrator to run things and vote on items requiring their blessing.

Now that we have a county administrator who is working for the citizens of Goochland instead of pursuing her own agenda this makes sense.

Beth Moore, chair of the Tucker Park at Maidens Landing public private task force, updated the supervisors on the park’s progress. Nearly a mile of walking trail, potentially with handicapped access, has been completed thanks to the hard work of volunteers and the coordination of Chuck Pebble.

McKinney and Company of Ashland donated a parking lot design and Moore is seeking donors to build the parking lot and a concrete pad to stage events.

This project is a great example of collaboration between citizens and government to make things happen. Thanks to the creativity and hard work of a lot of people, a centrally located access point to the James River will be a reality. There is still much to be done and more volunteers needed to contribute sweat equity to the park.

Plans for Leake’s Mill Park, west of Courthouse Village on the south side of Route 6, are also moving forward. The Virginia Outdoors Foundation accepted a conservation easement on a portion of the property. This will enable the county to pursue grant money to develop the park, leveraging county resources to get a very large bang for our tax bucks. Thanks to those with the vision to make this happen.

Going forward the parks are a worthwhile pursuit.

Another matter that came before the supervisors, funding a fireworks display for July 4, 2011, seemed all too reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s comment about cake.

If you received and read the last county newsletter, which was sent to every home in Goochland a few months ago, you may recall an opinion poll about the kind of events the county department of parks and recreation should fund.

According to county administrator Rebecca T. Dickson, of the 186 responses to the survey, 52 per cent cited the fireworks as their favorite event. Indeed, this year’s display was splendid and did much to foster a sense of community as people gathered around Courthouse Village to watch.

However, as District 4 supervisor Rudy Butler pointed out, there are more than 20,000 people in the county (including inmates at the two Department of Corrections facilities) and interpolating about 90 positive responses into an expression of the majority of citizens is a stretch.

Butler said that the FY 2012 budget process will very difficult as revenues may decline even further.

Board chair William Quarles, Jr. District 2 contended that “you can’t just cut out everything because people are still paying their taxes.” He also said that the expression of wonder in a child’s eye when he watches the fireworks is important too. Perhaps, but would it not be preferable to educate that child so that he has the tools to participate in the American Dream and be master of his fate rather than dependent on government for everything including a fireworks display?

Ned Creasey, District 3, said that he is seeking private donors to help defray the $13,600 cost of next year’s display. Half of that amount is paid in the current fiscal year, the rest next year.

A motion made by Andrew Pryor District 1 and seconded by Creasey was affirmed by all supervisors except Butler, who abstained on the vote.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay said that October is Fire Prevention Month. He declared that it is a national disgrace that Americans are four times as likely to die in a house fire than people living in Great Britain.

MacKay urged everyone to check their smoke detectors to make sure that they are in working order. If anyone needs a smoke detector or has any questions about fire safety, call the Fire-Rescue office at 556-5304 for assistance. Smoke detectors will be provided free of charge to those who need them.

Sheriff Agnew commented on the shooting that took place in the upper end of the county and said that it was a “Richmond style murder in Goochland.” Agnew said that there are “one or two shooters out there that have not yet been located” and the incident involved gang activity, which he characterized as an “everywhere issue.”

The Sheriff’s Department is working hard to find the person responsible for the hit and run that killed a Goochland High School student on Route 250. Anyone with information is urged to call the sheriff’s office at 556-5349.

On a positive note, Agnew reported that Goochland deputies worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration on a drug take back program to dispose of prescription drugs that resulted in 40 pounds of unwanted pharmaceuticals being kept out of landfills and the water table.

The first phase of the HCA medical facility planned for West Creek should be under construction soon with completion expected in a few years.


Anonymous said...

Ridiculous, the consideration for spending money on Fireworks, is absolutely Ridiculous! It is not the governements responsibility to provide fireworks!

Anonymous said...

I vote no on the fireworks also.
And what ha
ppened to the second round of layoffs? Choice people-
only had one day a week removed and they still have a job. What about the folks in the first layoffs that are still out of work and were dedicated long serving
employees with good records?
I'm sure they would like to work 4 days a week also. Who are they and
why are they forgotten?