Contentious issues held off as citizens honored
Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County’s board of supervisors was shorter than expected after two applicants for highly contested permits withdrew their applications and the adoption of a resolution honoring emergency services volunteer William Henderson was put off until Henderson could be at the meeting.
One of the two applicants had been seeking permission to land seaplanes on Hull Creek and another sought permission to operate a tourist home.
County Administrator Kenny Eades said he did not know why the seaplane application was withdrawn and thought the tourist home application was withdrawn until the Board decides whether it will make such uses “of right” instead of having them require a conditional use permit. That matter is still with the planning commission.
The board voted to execute a deed giving the old high school in Heathsville to the YMCA. The deed specifies that if the Y ever quits using the property, and wishes to convey it to another party, the county has the right to ask for it back.
The board agreed to allow the county to join in a deed of easement and declaration of restrictions and covenants regarding a 23-acre parcel of land near Callao which puts the land in the care of the Northern Neck Land Conservancy.
As a result of the conveyance, the land, called “the Winstead property,” cannot be commercially or residentially developed. It is the first such conveyance in Northumberland County.
In other business, the board passed a resolution passed a resolution designating Oct. 6 though 12 as “National Fire Prevention Week.” Fire Chiefs Phillip Keyser of the Fairfields Volunteer Fire Department and David Woolard of the Callao Volunteer Fire Department were on hand to accept copies of the resolution. The resolution noted that most house fires start in the kitchen.
Fire Chiefs Phillip Keyser, left, and David Woolard behind Supervisors Ronnie Jett, left, Richard Haynie and James Long, were presented with a resolution recognizing the importance of their work for the county.
Another resolution was passed that noted the importance of the Potomac Aquifer as the primary source of drinking water for the region which asked the Department of Environmental Quality to do all it can to minimize the use of the aquifer’s water. The resolution and similar resolutions from other localities may have some impact on the State Water Control Board as it considers the request of the paper mill at West Point for a renewed permit to make withdrawals from the aquifer.
The board also adopted a resolution congratulating Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Ellen B. Mullin for her being awarded the Margaret Ann Anderson Award for being the top deputy commissioner in the state from Commissioner of Revenue Association of Virginia. Mullin has worked in the county’s commissioner of revenue’s office for 30 years.
Supervisors also adopted a resolution congratulating Thelma Winstead Riley on her reaching her 101st birthday.
Early in the meeting, the Supervisors listened to a “state of the library” report from Northumberland Public Library Director Alice Cooper, Micki Pugh, President of the library’s board and Jan Bates, the library’s children’s librarian.
The three told the supervisors that during the past year 44,417 patrons had visited the library and that 1,400 new library cards had been issued. In a county of about 12,500 people, that amounts to 10 per cent of the population. They also said that the Library of Virginia’s funding calculations put Northumberland’s library at some risk of reduced funding because unless the county’s support for the library is increased it will not reach the state library’s approved level of support, which is $10 for each person in the county. That would be $125,000 rather than the $110,000 the county has given the library annually for the past seven years.
Monday, Cooper said that the state library surveyed all the libraries to determine the median level of support they receive and it is now $10 a person. She said that the state would not necessarily reduce its funding if that level isn’t met, but it could.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rebecca Gates advised the Board that the school system’s high school graduation rate has been raised from 71 per cent in 2009-2010 to 88 per cent in 2013. She also noted that the county’s school division is one of 36 out of Virginia’s 132 school districts that achieved full accreditation this year.