By WILLIAM PAINE
This week’s meeting of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors began with Katie Boyle of the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO), presenting an Achievement Award to the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors.
The VACO Achievement Award was given for The One Bag Challenge program initiated by board chairwoman Laura Walters.
“You all have done a fantastic job of addressing the rising challenge of litter in a way that involves your community,” said Boyle. “You all got serious results. I was reviewing your submission and I saw 849 bags of trash and 275 tires picked up as of the end of June… all by asking your community to just pick up one bag of trash and that is just fantastic.”
After the award was given, Wendy Davis, Director of the Pulaski Adult Day Service and Fall Prevention Center in Dublin, gave a presentation to the board.
“Our mission is to keep adults 18 and older safe and engaged and living in their homes in our community,” said Davis, who noted that her organization has been in operation for seven years.
According to Davis, there are currently 20 individuals with ages ranging from 43 to 98 years of age, who regularly utilize the Pulaski Adult Day Service and Fall Prevention Center.
“A lot of people think that it’s a place for old people to go and sit around all day and watch TV and we’re anything but that,” said Davis. “Our people are active and engaged all day long.”
Davis invited Kathy Young and Terry Hauser to Monday’s meeting. Kathy brings Terry to the adult day care service on a daily basis. Kathy became Terry’s caregiver when her mother died.
“She passed the torch to me,” said Kathy. “So, I figured rather than let her sit there, I bring her there because she’s very intelligent, very smart and sassy sometimes but Terry is doing well … It’s a great place.”
Two Public hearings followed the presentations. The first involved rezoning two lakeside parcels on Cecil’s Chapel Road. The change was necessary because when the estate was reassessed, it was determined that the property line cut directly through a residence at the site. As a result of the new designation, one of the properties which had been zoned Low Density Residential was changed to Medium Density Residential.
A woman came to the podium to question this change but was assured by Chairwoman Laura Walters that the new Medium Density designation was actually more restrictive than the Low Density zoning designation.
The change in zoning was unanimously approved by the board.
Planning Manager and Zoning Administrator Markie Saunders then asked the board to change some of the language of the county’s Unified Development Plan to align with state code. No one spoke in opposition and the board passed the requested change in verbiage for Pulaski County’s Unified Development Plan.
Joe Guthrie, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and former member of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors came to the podium during the Citizen Comment segment of the agenda.
Guthrie extended greetings from Governor Youngkin and mentioned how the Consumer Services aspect of VDACS makes up a significant portion of its responsibilities. Apart from its Agricultural responsibilities, VDACS oversees charities that solicit money through raffles or bingo. Recently, the VDACS has begun work on a set of regulations to bring Texas Hold ‘em Poker to charitable gaming.
“So, there’s a lot in it, and it requires a lot of regulation to make sure that it’s all done well and done fairly,” said Guthrie. “I was asked recently by the administration if I could help field a citizen candidate for the charitable gaming board. As such, thoughts came to mind of someone who would be dependable, reliable and whose judgement we could count on … so my thoughts immediately went to Dirk Compton.”
Compton, who serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors, agreed to be nominated and was subsequently appointed by Governor Youngkin to serve on Virginia’s Charitable Gaming Board. Following a round of applause, Compton promised to do a good job at his new post.
E.W. Harless came to the podium next and declared that an excessive amount of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests had been sent to Pulaski County Administrators by Brenda Blackburn. In total, Blackburn has sent 166 FOIA requests to be fulfilled by the Pulaski County Administrators, according to Harless.
“Can you imagine the man hours this has cost the taxpayers of Pulaski County? Harless asked. “Some of the things she’s asked for is just plumb ludicrous in my opinion … she even done a FOIA asking for her money back for all the FOIA’s she’s requested!”
Following Harless’s comments, County Administrator Jonathan Sweet offered some points of clarification. According to Sweet, as of that morning, the county had received 167 FOIAs from “this individual” and that each FOIA contained several separate questions representing hundreds of inquiries and in turn generating thousands of pages in response to those inquiries.
“We’re thinking about utilizing an intern to actually calculate how many FOIA requests those 167 submittals represent, so no additional local dollars are expended on this individual’s insatiable appetite for records,” said Sweet. “We’re receiving more than one a week on average, from the individual.”
“Once you put in a FOIA request, we are legally bound to provide that information,” added Supervisor Walters. “So, we have no choice. You can’t say you’ve had too many.”
“I think it would be very enlightening to the board if we extrapolated just how inundating the requests are,” Sweet continued. “If every citizen made requests like this individual, we would require a small army, if not a large army of FOIA compliant officers to respond.”
The first Action Item on the agenda involved a resolution authorizing the designation of the Pulaski Lofts, formerly Pulaski Middle School, as a Revitalization Area. This designation will make the county eligible for state funding specifically tailored to promote housing developments in “blighted” areas.
The board voted unanimously to approve the former school building and its grounds as a Revitalization Area.
The second two action items involved county employees. This year’s state budget included additional funding which provided a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase to the county’s Constitutional Officers (Sheriff, Treasurer, Commonwealth’s Attorney and Commissioner of Revenue.)
Supervisor Dirk Compton made the motion to provide a 2% cost of living adjustment to all county employees. The money will be taken from the county’s General Fund but according to Sweet, some cost savings are expected due to unfilled vacancies within the county’s employment rolls.
The board passed the motion unanimously making the 2% COLA adjustment applicable to all county employees.
A third Action Item was added by Chairwoman Laura Walters immediately before the meeting started. This last Action Item gave all county employees a half day Holiday on Wednesday Nov. 22, which is the day before Thanksgiving on Thursday Nov. 23.
Supervisor Chris Stafford made the motion to approve the half day Holiday and the board subsequently passed it by unanimous vote.
Lastly, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution in recognition and appreciation of Camrett Logistics, which has operated in Pulaski County for more than two decades.