By Brandon Martin
The City of Martinsville currently has several vacancies for volunteer appointments to boards and commissions that assist the City Council on matters concerning local governance.
As of a Dec. 14, 2020 report, the city had 41 vacancies spanning across 13 different boards or commissions.
“Each board/commission has different roles within the flow of our local governance,” said Vice-Mayor Jennifer Bowles. “For example, the planning commission sends recommendations to the city council for items. Therefore, even if you do not have the final decision on an item, you have reviewed the information before and provided valuable information for the City Council to review.”
Bowles said members are also typically the first people seen by citizens in matters of local government.
By representing the community on the boards and commissions, members have the ability to serve as the voice of the area in which they live, Bowles added.
“It is important we have a diverse group of people on these boards/commissions, so a plethora of ideas and thoughts are heard,” she said.
Bowles said there are plenty of other benefits that come with the positions.
“An individual would be providing input and insight in decisions that affect our citizens,” she said. “It is important to have people who are in touch with our citizens and who care about the community as a whole. Another benefit for our younger generations would be for experience and it could be added to a resume.”
Each board or commission has different rules for appointment or qualifications with members typically meeting once a month or on an as-needed basis, according to Bowles.
Most of the positions are appointed directly by the city council.
“Personally, I am looking for people who genuinely care and who are interested in the board/commission,” Bowles said.
Applying to the positions doesn’t take much time either, Bowles said.
“An individual would complete a form on the city’s website. It asks your name, address, phone number, etc., and why you would like to serve and your qualifications. This is generally a paragraph,” she said. “You can also submit your resume if you would like to the city manager, but it is not required. It is an easy process and does not take much time.”
Of the available appointments, the Arts and Cultural Committee and the Industrial Development Authority have the most vacancies, at seven.
The Arts and Cultural Committee consists of 11 members in total: two citizens, a city business owner, and one representative each from the Piedmont Arts Association/Studio 107, the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), the Southern Virginia Artisan Center, the MHC Historical Society, the Architectural Review Board (ARB), the MHC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association (MURA), and TheatreWorks.
Bernadette Moore, director of exhibitions and marketing for Piedmont Arts, represents the organization on the committee and she discussed their role in the local government.
“The Arts and Cultural Committee, since I started on it, has been in charge of finding opportunities for artists to relocate into the physical area of the arts and cultural community which includes Uptown and down Starling Avenue towards Piedmont Arts,” Moore said. “We find opportunities for them to relocate there and provide incentives for them to start their own businesses.”
Moore said the committee shows the city’s support for arts and culture.
“It really lets the artists know that the city wants to help them, and that the city is behind them,” she said. “We are really looking for more ways that we can be of service.”
On a personal level, Moore said she enjoys being part of the committee as a way of extending her work of promoting artists in her capacity at Piedmont Arts.
“And I love being able to promote Martinsville as a place that is welcoming to artists and a place they can really grow,” Moore said. “Arts are integral to the health of a community. It’s not just entertainment. It also improves our everyday lives. Supporting our local artists really helps our economy which is really needed in these hard times.”
The committee still has open positions for a city business owner and representatives from VMNH, the Southern Virginia Artisan Center, the historical society, ARB, MURA, and Theaterworks.
The following provides a brief overview of other boards and commissions with major vacancies:
Industrial Development Authority (7 vacancies)
Established under Chapter 33 of Title 15.1, of the Code of Virginia, the Industrial Development Authority is involved in certain economic development projects. The IDA consists of seven members serving four-year terms which are appointed by the City Council. The IDA meets on an as-needed basis.
Transportation Safety Commission (6 vacancies)
The Transportation Safety Commission was created by action of the City Council pursuant to powers granted in Chapter 2, Section 5, of the Code of the Transportation and Safety in the City.
Regular members may serve three consecutive four-year terms. The Commission meets on the second Monday of each month.
Tree Board (5 vacancies)
The Tree Board was established for the purposes of administering the provisions of the city tree ordinance. This board, in collaboration with the City Manager and Superintendent of Schools or their designees, shall consider, investigate, make findings, reports and recommendations regarding any special matter coming within the scope of its work. It shall be the responsibility of the board to study, investigate, and develop recommendations for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in the parks, along streets and in other publicly owned areas.
Board of Appeals (4 vacancies)
Originally established to review and decide appeals to the requirements of the Uniform Statewide Building Code as enforced by the City, the Board of Appeals consists of five members who serve five-year terms, all of whom are appointed by City Council. At present, the Board also has the authority to decide matters relating to the City’s Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance, Flood Plain Ordinances, and Fire Prevention Code. Decisions and actions made by the Board are by resolution. The Board meets on an as-needed basis to consider specific administrative decisions and interpretations of the ordinances under its authority.
Board of Zoning Appeals (4 vacancies)
The Board of Zoning Appeals hears appeals on the city’s Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. Five members are appointed by the Circuit Court Judge to serve five-year terms. The Board meets on an as-needed basis, usually during the daytime. Members of the Board of Zoning Appeals may hold no other public office in the city except the Planning Commission. Members must be residents of the city and be requested by the city attorney to the judge in order to serve.
Other vacancies include the Comprehensive Services Act Community Policy and Management Team, the Henry County-Martinsville Joint Social Services Board, the Pittsylvania County Community Action Agency Board, the Planning Commission, the Southern Area Agency on Aging, the Southern Virginia Recreation Facilities, and the West Piedmont Planning Technical Advisory Committee.
For more information on vacancies or to complete an application, visit: https://www.martinsville-va.gov/government/boards-and-commissions.