Thursday, July 16, 2015

Piecing the quilt

Pieces of the puzzle that is community gravitated towards each other at the July 7 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors.

Agenda items highlighted people, institutions, and notions that, when working in harmony, 

One of the first orders of business was recognizing Joe Wadle, current commander of American Legion Post 215 on his retirement from that position. Wadle, a "retired" Marine--they're always Marines, just configured a little differently--served our country honorably while on active duty. Like many veterans, when Wadle became a private citizen, he enriched his community by volunteering his time and talents. As commander of Post 215, Wadle worked to bolster the dwindling membership. He reported that 34 local veterans have joined and the Post is stronger than ever.
Wadle, who moved to Goochland in 2007, was also instrumental in the creation of the Marine Junior ROTC corps at Goochland High School. For many years, parents who wanted to see such a program added to the GHS curriculum were told it could never happen. Apparently, Joe Wadle disagreed. He was the catalyst that brought all the disparate pieces of that puzzle together and turned "never happen" into "mission accomplished." 

A bit later in the meeting, Gary Rhodes, the president of Reynolds Community College gave his annual update to the supervisors. He thanked the board for appointing Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Lane to the Reynolds board. Rhodes said that Lane has added a "wealth of knowledge" about the use of technology in education to that group.

(Lane later commented that he too has learned much from his time on the Reynolds board and that the partnership between Reynolds and Goochland schools has provided opportunities for our students like a recent STEM cap that "makes a small county like ours so special." Lane lives in Goochland.)

Rhodes said that the goal of his institution is to triple the number of  credentials awarded by 2021. In addition to specific  training, Rhodes said that Reynolds also wants to ensure that its graduates have the necessary "soft" skills to succeed in the workplace.  These include a strong work ethic; communication skills; and understanding the need to show up for work on time.

Rhodes said that there are 36,000 job seekers in the Commonwealth and 52,000 job openings. He wants to make sure that those seeking work have all the skills needed to fill the openings. This is not only good for Virginia, but enables more people to determine their own course in life.

Laura Lafayette of the Richmond Board of Realtors discussed the results of a recent study about housing challenges in the region prepared for the Partnership for Housing Affordability. (The complete presentation may be viewed in the July 7 Board packet located on the county website                           

The notion of "affordable" housing conjures up images of crime ridden housing projects. Lafayette, however, used the term "cost burdened" to identify those who spend more than 30 percent  of household income on housing costs.

A new group increasingly falling into the cost burdened category is senior citizens living n fixed incomes. According to statistics in the presentation  73.1 percent of Goochland's population is not in the cost burdened category. 

Most of the suggested strategies to mitigate the housing burden issue apply to areas more urban than Goochland. Two that might apply here were easing regulation regarding "granny flats" to keep seniors near their families and creation of mixed use zoning.

The supervisors approved a very tenuous approach to mixed use, which might result in less expensive  housing options,  though not affordable by many standards.  The hoops that a landowner in Goochland must jump through to create a "granny flat"  are far too rigorous and need to be revisited.

In summary, Lafayette conceded that the best way to reduce the housing burden is to help people increase their incomes through education and job training.

All of these subjects relate to the county's strategic plan, whose main goal is to create an environment where citizens can pursue a satisfying and fulfilling lifestyle. Ideally, government is a catalyst, not a guarantor of success.


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