Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blood moon

The October 7 meeting of the Goochland Board of supervisors ended a few hours before the “Blood Moon” eclipse.

A stirring and appropriate invocation by the Rev. Jeff Spence, the Supervisors began the proceedings.

County employees marking five year service anniversaries were recognized. This year’s group represents over 275 combined years of working for the citizens of Goochland County.

Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2, mentioned that the next round of town meetings will be held this month. Another meeting to discuss the future of the Old Central High School building on Dogtown Road will be held on November 18 at 7 p.m. in the Reynolds Community College meeting room. The building itself will be open for tours on October 18 from 11:30 to 1 p.m.; Monday October 20 from 9-11 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. for those interested in the matter.

On November 12, a meeting about the Centerville area arterial management study will be held at Centerville Company 3 fire-rescue station at 7 p.m.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson reported that the 2014 edition of The Goochland Observer is available on the county website A limited number of hard copies are available. The shift to a primarily electronic publication represents a significant cost savings over mailing a copy to every household. This is essentially the county’s annual report to its “stockholders,” the citizens. It contains a great deal of useful and interesting information, but is written from the county’s point of view.

The board voted to authorize Dickson to execute a contract to spend $13,000 for the 2015 Fourth of July fireworks that is expected to improve the grand finale of the pyrotechnic display. The contract is included in the board packet.

Several fire-rescue items were addressed during the meeting. The Board approved a request to use $37,158 of funds generated by EMS revenue recovery to purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe to replace a 2004 vehicle used by the Deputy Chief of Operations. Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that the emergency medical technician (EMT) class currently underway is full, but, so far, none of the students have joined Goochland rescue squads.

The Supervisors adopted a resolution to establish a standard for EMS response times in the county. Going forward, a 15 or fewer minute response time for areas of the county east of Rt. 522 south of the Louisa line to its intersection with Jackson Shop Road to Route 6 and 20 or fewer minutes for areas to the west is the goal. There is no sanction for failing to meet the goal, but this is the first time that response time standards have been established. The supervisors will receive periodic updates on response times.

MacKay said that three career EMS crews will be on duty 24/7 by November 1 and augmented with volunteers when available. The career crews will be deployed east, central and west in an attempt to cover the whole county.

Every EMS crew wants to be instantly at the side of a patient. Many factors go into response time beyond the number of crews on duty at any given time. Weather, geography—a major obstacle in long, narrow Goochland—and what else is going on plays a part. If you are in a jurisdiction with 1,000 career staffed ambulances and your call happens to be the 1,001th, you will have to wait your turn.

MacKay said that, countywide, the EMS response time is 15 minutes or less 77 percent of the time and 20 minutes or sooner 92 percent of the time. He also cautioned that extenuating circumstances affect this. For instance, if all on duty EMS crews are out of the county transporting patients to area hospitals, response time will be longer.

Goochland fire-rescue is working hard to get care where it’s needed fast. In addition to ambulance crews, all apparatus has some EMS equipment on board because so many of our providers are cross trained in fire and EMS skills. Red and white fire-rescue vehicles staffed by advanced life support providers can reach patients and provide life-saving care while an ambulance, perhaps from the opposite end of the county, is on its way.
Establishing a measurable standard is a better way to determine the need for additional personnel than anecdotal reports of a long wait for an ambulance. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. (Please chime in with comments about this issue.)
The tricky part is that you can’t plan emergencies.

Goochland Fire-Rescue adopted stringent protective protocols concerning Ebola transmission a few weeks ago.
The slope over the close landfill that is now Hidden Rock Park needs work again. The supervisors authorized appropriating up to $110,000 from the parks development fund for mitigation.

Qiana Foote, Director of Information Technology made a presentation about retaining the firm CivicPlus to redesign the county website. This initiative will improve transparency and help increase citizen engagement in Goochland government. The new website will be tied to social media in an effort to get information to citizens in formats that they regularly use.

CivicPlus will also handle live streaming of county meetings. The current system in place, which is a free service, has some issues, and has commercials.

The first year fee for the project package is $25,565. Annual services going forward are $4,734 subject to a five percent annual increase in year three of the contract and beyond.

During the citizen comment period at the start of the evening portion of the meeting, Cathy Crockett and Baird Stokes voiced concerns about the application of biosolids--the end product of municipal waste water treatment plants--and industrial sludge-- stuff too icky to think about—to land in Goochland.

Crockett contended that the county needs to be sure that biosolids are not being over applied to the land to the detriment of surface water. She said that there is a rumor that biosolids could be spread on as many as 8,000 acres of county farmland. Crockett also alleged that there is no strict adherence to or oversight of proper land application of these substances.
Stokes said he is concerned about the negative impact of sludge and biosolids, as differentiated from animal manure, on values of property near the application sites. He worried that people will fearful to live near those sites. “I believe in property rights,” said Stokes. “But you need to be mindful of the effect of your actions on your neighbors.”
Jonathan Lyle, Director of the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation observed that “nutrients are nutrients” regardless of their source. He opposed regulations on farmers, who are also businessman that would lessen their economic competitiveness. (Biosolids are applied to land at no cost to farmers.)
Lyle supported biosolids application that is done safely, property, and does not intrude on anyone else’s property. Industrial sludge, he said, is different and he urged caution until more is known about its contents and long term consequences of land application.

Alvarez said that the Department of Environmental Quality will hold a hearing on the subject at its offices at 4949A Cox Road in Glen Allen at 7 p.m. on October 23. He favors increased testing standards for industrial sludge. The county will request a hearing for application of these substances to land in Goochland.

Board vice Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1, pointed out that the county has no power to regulate or stop application of these substances in Goochland. Putting some regulations on storage is about all local government can do.
The Board approved a lease for Verizon wireless to locate equipment on the Centerville water tower. This does not necessarily mean that cell service in the area will improve.

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