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State funds sought for road improvement
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution seeking state funds to improve Barrows Mill Road to serve Kilgour Industries at the Patriot Centre industrial park.
With the recent announcement by Kilgour Industries that it plans to invest $27.3 million and hire 155 people at a facility in Patriot Centre, county staff opened discussions with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) about using Economic Development Access (EDA) funds to improve Barrows Mill Road.
The EDA program is a state-funded incentive that helps Virginia localities attract sustainable businesses that create new jobs and generate tax revenue.
The program provides funds for road improvements needed to provide access for new or expanding industries. The funds are allocated by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).
The board of supervisors’ resolution asks the CTB to consider an allocation of $650,000 toward the road improvements. The funding would require a county contribution of $150,000.
Also at the board’s 6 p.m. meeting at the Henry County Administration Building, the supervisors:
• Heard an update on general highway matters from VDOT resident engineer Lisa Hughes. She told the board about several upcoming highway projects, including railroad track repairs on Pulaski Road, which will close the railroad crossing for roughly six hours on March 5; the installation of flashing safety lights at the intersection of Carver Road and U.S. 58, which will remain in place until the intersection is graded in mid-2015; and a safety project in Oak Level on the southbound lane of U.S. 220, which will begin within the next 60 days.
Board Chairman H.G. Vaughn asked Hughes what percentage of snowplow drivers working during the Feb. 12 snowstorm were VDOT staff and what percentage were independent contractors. Hughes said that roughly 75 percent were with VDOT and 25 percent were contractors.
Vaughn said he received a number of phone calls in the days following the storm complaining that in certain subdivisions, all roads except one had been plowed, or on some roads, only one lane was plowed. Areas where Vaughn heard roads were not completely clear included Shannon Hills, Marrowbone Heights and Southland Drive, among others.
“In some cases,” Hughes said, the plows “went through and tried to open up a path, or intended to come back and (clear it further) and maybe it got missed.”
Vaughn said he realized that the snowfall was the most significant the county had seen in more than 20 years and cleaning it up was no easy task for VDOT, but the frustration came when residents saw plows clearing every road in their neighborhoods except for their own.
“I’m sure it’s very frustrating,” Hughes said. “We got together after everything was done and we realized we could make improvements in some areas, and I think you’ll see that a little bit better next time.”
• Heard from Jerry Adams, president of the Martinsville-Henry County Firefighters Association, who requested time to discuss the association’s fiscal 2014-2015 budget requests.
Adams said last year, the Emergency Services Advisory Council (ESAC) was created with the support of the board of supervisors to help determine the true needs of Henry County’s fire and rescue departments.
Based on its findings, Adams said, the Firefighters Association requests that capital improvements funds be granted to Bassett Volunteer Fire Department for a Class A Custom Rescue Engine.
Adams said Bassett already has sold one fire engine and plans to sell another engine and crash truck to offset the $450,000 to $500,000 cost of the new engine. That cost does not include equipment.
“They will be replacing three trucks with one truck to reduce operating costs such as insurance and maintenance,” Adams said.
The supervisors voted to consider the request.
• Heard an update on Bassett Volunteer Fire Department President Manker Stone from Bassett firefighter Tim Dodson. Stone recently experienced a severe illness, Dodson said, though his condition has improved considerably.
• No matters were presented by the public.