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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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City planners may propose name for Chatham Road

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Martinsville City Council members on Tuesday were advised that they likely will receive a recommendation to rename Chatham Road soon.

The road that runs through the city’s Chatham Heights area, that is. It, as well as its extension into Henry County, also is known as Virginia 457.

City Manager Leon Towarnicki said the recommendation is to come from the Martinsville Planning Commission.

Both Virginia 457 and Virginia 57, which 457 runs into and is entirely in the county, are known as Chatham Road, either officially or unofficially.

As far as addresses are concerned, Chatham Road officially is the stretch of 457 in Chatham Heights. At the city/county line, 457 becomes known as Old Chatham Road, Towarnicki noted.

The road now known as 457 originally was 57 until the portion of 57 that stretches from U.S. 58 just east of Martinsville to its intersection with 457 was built several decades ago.

Confused? So are some mail carriers and emergency services providers, apparently, Towarnicki said.

Vice Mayor Gene Teague said he was picking up a pizza recently when he heard a delivery driver voice frustration.

The two Chatham Roads have some similar addresses, Towarnicki said.

“The last thing we want,” said Teague, is for 911 to dispatch emergency services — ambulances or fire trucks, for example — to the wrong place.

But if the stretch of Chatham Road in the city is renamed, what will it be called?

Applying the name “Old Chatham Road” to all of 457 would be consistent, Towarnicki said.

Teague said he has heard people in that area think the city’s stretch should be renamed Chatham Heights Road.

Some people have been calling it that, according to city officials. However, Towarnicki said there never has been an official Chatham Heights Road.

Mayor Kim Adkins indicated that the planning commission’s suggestion likely will be what the stretch is renamed.

Also Tuesday, the council found out that Virginia First Cities wants one of the council members to serve on its board again.

Virginia First Cities is an organization advocating for Martinsville and 12 other independent cities, such as in dealings with the General Assembly.

Kimble Reynolds Jr. was the council’s representative on the organization’s board before leaving the council in 2012 when he did not seek re-election.

Reynolds served as the board’s chairman three times, recalled Virginia First Cities Executive Director Kelly Harris-Braxton.

“Martinsville has been extremely active” in the organization in the past, she said, and it wants the city to continue to be involved.

Adkins said it was an oversight that nobody was appointed from the council to replace Reynolds on the board.

Councilman Mark Stroud volunteered to be the new representative — if his wife does not mind. He will definitely say whether he will take the post when the council meets on July 8, he said.

Adkins said that since she is not running for re-election this year, she does not think it would be appropriate for her to serve on the board because her council term will expire on Dec. 31.

Teague and Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge indicated they do not have time to serve due to other commitments.

Councilman Danny Turner said it would be fine with him for Stroud to serve.

In another matter, Harris-Braxton told the council that the state is facing a $1.5 billion shortfall and, to reduce it, intends to take more than $700,000 from its reserves.

A reforecasting of the deficit is expected this fall, she said, adding “I hope it isn’t worse” then.

“The good news,” at least so far, Harris-Braxton said, is that the state has not cut its funding to localities much.

That could change if the shortfall deepens, she said, noting that funding for public schools could be cut significantly then.


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