Martinsville City Council members recognized city employees who retired in 2023 at its meeting Tuesday.
Mayor LC Jones noted the combined total experience of the retirees is nearly 500 years, which indicates dedication and deep institutional knowledge.
The retired employees and their years of service are David Collie 8; John Kahle 15; Michael McPeek 18; Darla Crigger 19; Richard Ratcliffe 21; Kristopher Shrader 24; Teddy Anderson 26; Kevin Turner 26; Kathryn Washington 31; Coretha Gravely 33; Lisa Holiday 37; Ashby Pritchett 38; Guy Cassady 38; Kathy Reed 38; Hattie Adams-Artis 39; James Minter 40; and Leon Towarnicki 41.
In other matters:
*Mandy McGhee, Martinsville’s Director of Finance, said a recent audit was complete, and the financial reporting form had been modified so that everyone should be able to understand it.
Vice Mayor Aaron Rawls said revenue-seeking streams need to focus on growing rather than cutting services, staff, or budgets.
“What are we missing,” asked City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides. “What are other cities and towns doing that aren’t always tax-based? These are avenues that should be explored to increase revenue streams for the city.
Following the presentation, she noted the city will have to remain cautious due to inflation.
Ferrell-Benavides suggested future budgets should include a true Enterprise Fund and strong financial policies.
*Jones noted that February is quickly approaching, and with it, the celebration of African American History.
This year’s theme is African Americans and the Arts, Jones said, adding the council “would like to present a proclamation to our very own FAHI – the Fayette Area Historical Initiative.”
After council member Lawrence Mitchell read the formal proclamation recognizing February as African American History in Martinsville, Charisse Hairston, FAHI’s new executive director, addressed council members.
Noting that the organization is now in its’ 20th year, Hairston said the organization will organize a gala this year. FAHI also is working collaboratively with other local organizations, such as Piedmont Arts and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. The FAHI staff are planning new exhibits, will host the Juneteenth event, and are happy to provide tours or discuss Martinsville’s history with interested citizens. The organization also plans to work on educational outreach, as well as a potential trip to Alabama to tour the Civil Rights tour.
“I want people to understand that this is not just African American history, it is our history as a whole,” Hairston said. “I want to have as many people as possible become members of FAHI,” visit for a tour and otherwise interact with the organization.
*Bobby Price, chairman of the newly formed Citizens Advisory Board and owner of American Patriot Liquidation, said the new board “provides judicious advice, ideas and feedback from a citizen perspective related to both present and further matters and plans of the city.”
Representatives are still needed for Southside, West End, Druid Hills, and the Uptown Business District to fill the board’s roster. Meetings are currently held on the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.
*Council member Tammy Pearson congratulated Del. Eric Phillips, R-Martinsville, who was sworn in this past Saturday.
Pearson also noted that she has received numerous calls inquiring about surveying on Fayette Street, and questioned the purpose of the surveys, which are not being conducted by city employees.
Ferrell-Benavides also did not know, but she said the activity would be investigated and an update posted on the website.
* Council member Kathy Lawson offered condolences to the family of Frank Draper, retired fire department employee, who passed away.
Additionally, Lawson said she has received a number of calls regarding the reduction of the speed limit on Spruce Street, from 45 to 35 mph. The change is in preparation of installing a crosswalk as part of the next part of the Dick & Willie Trail head.