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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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EDC outlines new retail outreach

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard a monthly update on a new retail initiative of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.

Lisa Fultz, director of the EDC’s Small, Minority & Entrepreneurial Division, said the EDC has created a retail portal and community profile on its website that includes a snapshot of demographics in the community that retailers would be interested in.

The portal also will be used to help send leads to commercial retailers’ websites, she said, adding that the EDC also will continue to help recruit retailers however possible. A portal is a web page that is designed to combine various types of information and services in one place for easier access.

The retail portal was developed by the EDC staff and is part of the EDC’s “efforts to focus on complementing” existing commercial developers rather than competing with them, Fultz said.

The community profile contains information such as traffic counts for particular buildings/sites and other information that will be “more relevant to retailers” than the demographics included on the industrial development pages, she said.

In other matters Tuesday, the supervisors:

• Heard from Rick Ward, the new executive director of the Blue Regional Library System, who wanted to introduce himself to the supervisors. Ward said that in the new post, he will work to make the library system a bigger part of the community and increase accessibility.

• Approved a request to formally create an Emergency Services Advisory Council (ESAC), with a first progress update due within six months.

The council was created to advise county staff and the board on issues relating to fire and EMS and to help implement county-wide procedures, policies and practices. It was requested by Public Safety Director Rodney Howell.

Formation of the group was among several recommendations of a recent fire and EMS study, according to Howell.

He added the council will help develop a countywide emergency services organization to improve all aspects of emergency response; represent volunteers in financial, administrative and operational activities; create a uniform standard of operations for emergency response to foster cooperation between emergency response agencies; develop an efficient system for funding capital improvements; improve training; create officer standards; and address other issues.

The council also will develop a strategic plan for fire and EMS, including a common mission and vision; a reasonable apparatus list to adequately meet service delivery demands; a comprehensive capital improvements plan; and standard operating procedures to be implemented across the county.

Membership of the group will include one representative from each volunteer fire and rescue department, with members being either a district fire chief, district rescue captain or an appointee. Each member also will have the authority to represent his respective agency in council discussions and decisions.

The public safety director will chair the council.

• Appropriated a $10,000 Harvest Foundation grant for the Parks and Recreation Department, with the funds earmarked to improve the access road to the lower field at the Smith River Sports Complex River Access Point.

• Appropriated an additional $2,796.31 from the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services and other individuals. The funds will be used to reimburse expenses from programs already held by the Department of Public Safety.

• Approved a request from Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton for the school division to retain carryover funds from the fiscal 2012 budget. The majority of the total $1,719,429, or $1,490,982, will be earmarked for capital projects, and the rest will be used for the school division’s continuing obligation for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) expenses.

• Approved items of consent that included accounts payable and a proclamation to establish April as “Fair Housing Month.” The minutes of meetings on Feb. 26 and March 12 were confirmed.

• Approved a resolution honoring the 20th anniversary of the Axton Lifesaving Crew Inc., which was formed in 1993.

• Approved proclamations to establish April as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” and also “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”

• In closed session, discussed appointees to the West Piedmont Planning District Commission, pending legal matters, as-yet unannounced industries and the acquisition/disposal of real estate.

Following that closed session, the supervisors reappointed Wesley George III to the West Piedmont Planning Commission to a term expiring on April 30, 2017.


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