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County to seek funds
Paid fire/EMS positions would be added

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorsed an application for federal funds to add 13 paid public safety personnel whose primary responsibility would be firefighting.

The funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, if approved, would total $1,355,829 over two years for salaries and fringe benefits, and the county would be obliged to pay a total of $53,300 over two years for firefighter gear. That’s according to Blackberry District Supervisor Jim Adams, board chairman; Deputy County Administrator Dale Wagoner; and a letter to the board from county Public Safety Director Rodney Howell.

The personnel would include eight firefighters, four supervisors and one training officer, Wagoner said. He added their primary responsibility would be firefighting, but they also would run paramedic calls.

Howell wrote in his letter that the positions would “make a huge positive impact to our system in regards to available responses, improved ISO ratings, and ultimately save lives.”

Howell also provided the board with an update on the work of the Emergency Services Advisory Council (ESAC).

Supervisors created the council and assigned it the initial tasks of developing a strategic plan for fire and EMS, including developing a common mission and vision; creating a reasonable apparatus (vehicle) list to adequately meet service delivery demands; making a comprehensive capital improvements plan; and developing county-wide standard operating procedures that include the minimum responder and officer standards.

In other business at their 3 p.m. meeting Tuesday, the supervisors:

• Denied an appeal from Teresa Foster, social quarters manager of the Bassett Moose Lodge, for a dance permit for the lodge.

Teresa and William Ray Foster asked the supervisors to reconsider County Administrator Tim Hall’s denial of the permit. Teresa Foster said proceeds from the dance would benefit a charity in the community, and that the lodge does not hold regularly scheduled dances.

Hall said the permit requested by the lodge was an annual permit, not intended for an individual event.

• Heard an update on activities of Piedmont Community Services by Jim Tobin, executive director.

Tobin said that as of June 30, the agency has experienced an incremental increase of 10 percent in services from last year.

• Heard a monthly update from Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.

According to a report from the EDC, active retail projects include two national restaurant companies and two fast food restaurants, as well as three national retail stores.

The opening of Marshall's in Liberty Fair Mall is slated for Thursday, according to the report. Other new or expanded retail businesses included Riverside Pawn in Collinsville, Mi Pueblo in Laurel Park Plaza, Sandy River Pork in Axton and Jeweler’s Edge in Studio 107.

The EDC staff also is working with 12 active projects, the report stated.

• Approved a resolution to opt out of the state-managed program and award a contract to the Virginia Association of Counties Risk Pool (VACoRP) to pay short- and long-term disability benefits to local government employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014.

Legislation passed last year established the Virginia Locality Disability Program with localities mandated to participate in (and fund) the state-managed program, or offer a comparable disability program that meets or exceeds the coverage required by law.

Employees hired before Jan. 1, 2014, will not be impacted by the change.

• Heard in a report on delinquent tax collection efforts by County Treasurer Scott Grindstaff that nearly 97 percent of 2012 personal property taxes and nearly 94 percent of 2012 real estate taxes had been collected as of Sept. 30.

• Approved an additional $135,042 appropriation from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs Aid to Localities, with each of the eight volunteer fire departments to receive $16,880.25. The funds are earmarked to pay for training, building training centers, firefighting equipment and protective clothing.

• Appropriated $141,813 from the federal Department of Education to the schools’ nutrition budget for the fresh fruit and vegetable program at Axton, Campbell Court, Carver, Rich Acres, Sanville, and Stanleytown elementary schools.

• Approved items of consent, which included the minutes of Sept. 24 and 25 meetings; accounts payable; and a proclamation requested by Citizens Against Family Violence establishing October 2013 as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

• Received departmental reports from building inspection, parks and recreation, public safety and the sheriff’s office.

• Met in closed session to discuss appointees to the PSA, Patriot Centre Advisory Board and West Piedmont Planning District Commission; pending legal matters; the acquisition/disposal of real estate; as-yet unannounced industries; and special awards. No action was taken as a result of closed session, county officials said.


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