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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Board seats up for grabs
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Two new people soon could be appointed to the Martinsville School Board.
Martinsville City Council on Tuesday set a public hearing May 27 to receive and interview city residents interested in a school board seat.
Seats now held by board members Craig Dietrich and J.C. Richardson Jr. are up for grabs. Both are completing their first three-year terms and are eligible for reappointment.
Unlike in some localities — such as Henry County — where voters elect the school board, Martinsville School Board members are chosen by the council.
State law stipulates that only people whom the council interviews or whose names are given during the hearing can be considered for the school board.
The law also prohibits the council from making school board appointments sooner than seven days after the hearing. Therefore, the council will decide who will fill the board seats when it meets June 10, a document shows.
Also Tuesday, the council gave its preliminary approval to zoning ordinance amendments that will temporarily allow land to be used for certain types of light industrial and commercial development while the ordinance is revised.
Final approval will be considered during the May 27 meeting.
The amendments will allow districts zoned for commercial and business land uses to accommodate new types of businesses that arise in the future, said Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Wayne Knox.
A potential example, he noted based on interest expressed to city planning officials, is businesses that grow organic fruits and vegetables.
Knox has described the ordinance — as it now stands — as a “permissive ordinance” because if it does not specifically mention a particular land use being allowed in a zoning district, that use is not permitted.
A major goal of ongoing efforts to revise the ordinance is to make it more flexible to new types of land uses that are developed, according to Knox.
Nobody spoke during a public hearing on the amendments.
The council also:
• Learned from City Manager Leon Towarnicki that the city’s housing office on Fourth Street will operate until at least January.
The city plans to transfer its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program to the Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority as a money-saving measure. The transfer ultimately must be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Towarnicki said city officials are responding to questions HUD officials have regarding the transfer. However, he expects no problems to arise that would kill the transfer, he said.
• Made routine-type adjustments to the current fiscal year’s budget.
A total of $45,951 was placed in the general fund for city law-enforcement agencies. The money is from various reimbursements, including one from Henry County for expenses related to a litter pickup event in March.
The Community Development Block Grant fund received $30,000 in state funds toward the planned Northside neighborhood improvement program.
A total of $25,150 in federal funds was placed in the school fund for the Science Engineering Math and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) at Martinsville Middle School.
• Presented a proclamation recognizing this week as National Police Week and Thursday as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.
The week recognizes law enforcement officers for their efforts to protect the public and maintain peace. The Memorial Day honors officers who have died or received a disability in the line of duty, the proclamation shows.
Newly hired Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn accepted the proclamation. He said that about 100 officers nationwide died in the line of duty last year.
So far this year in Virginia, two officers have died while protecting the public, Dunn said.
• Heard from city resident and council candidate Ural Harris, who inquired about the salary of a Martinsville Information Network (MINet) employee.
Councilman Mark Stroud told Harris to contact the city’s human resources office because the council does not set salaries for individual city employees.
The council determines salaries only for the city manager and city attorney. Those people technically are employed by the council, not the city itself.
• Appointed Joseph Martin to the Martinsville Planning Commission and Lisa Smith to the Dan River ASAP Policy Board.