By Callie Hietala
The Henry County Board of Supervisors heard two presentations on redistricting during its regular meeting on Tuesday.
General Registrar Dawn Stultz-Vaughn discussed the impact of statewide redistricting on the county’s district assignments, while Planning, Zoning, and Inspections Director Lee Clark discussed proposed changes to the county’s own magisterial districts following the release of 2020 census data.
Vaughn said the required redistricting in Henry County only impacts state district assignments. “There will be no state boundary shifts, but simply numerical changes to congressional districts, senatorial districts, and house districts,” she said.
Previously, Henry County was split between the 5th and 9th congressional districts but, after redistricting, will lie wholly in the 9th district.
The senatorial district number for the entire county will change from 20 to 7, she said.
Henry County’s house districts were previously listed as the 9th, 14th, and 16th. Now, Vaughn said the westernmost third of the county will be located in the 47th house district, while the remaining two-thirds of the county, including the City of Martinsville, will be part of the 48th district.
Vaughn said every voter in Henry County would receive a notice from her office explaining the changes. She anticipates voters would only see numerical changes in their district, not a change in the actual voting precinct. “We’re trying to make it as simple as we can,” she said.
According to state statute, all magisterial districts must be drawn to ensure that each fall within 5 percent of the median population, County Administrator Tim Hall said.
Since the 2010 census, Henry County experienced a population decline of 3,203, lowering the median population of magisterial districts from 9,025 to 8,491 residents, and necessitating some small changes to most districts.
The minor changes came at the recommendation of a committed made up of Clark, Hall, Vaughn, County Attorney George Lyle, Public Information Officer Brandon Martin, and GIS Manager Jason Gardner.
Clark explained that only two districts—the Blackberry and Collinsville Districts—actually fell outside of the 5 percent threshold but, because the two districts did not touch, other districts had to be adjusted to compensate. Only the Iriswood District remained unchanged at the end of the process, Clark said.
He added that the committee was cognizant of drawing new lines that would not change any polling locations. Ultimately, Clark said, 69 people were moved from the Reed Creek to the Blackberry District, 230 from the Horsepasture to Blackberry, and 87 moved from the Ridgeway to the Horsepasture District. In the Collinsville District, 45 people were moved to Horsepasture, and 348 went to the Reed Creek District.
The board scheduled a public hearing on the proposed changes for March 22, at 6 p.m. The board may adopt an ordinance making the changes official following the hearing.
The presentation, including a map showing the proposed district changes, may be viewed at http://www.henrycountyva.gov/content/uploads/planning/redistricting_presentation.pdf.
In other matters, the board:
*Conducted a joint budget meeting with the Henry County School Board to discuss preparation of the FY22-23 school budget and total county budget.
*Approved the minutes from its Jan. 19, Jan. 25, and Feb. 8 meetings.
*Heard from Doug Stegall, of Collinsville, about reversion and insurance for part-time school bus drivers.
*Heard a report on delinquent tax collection efforts from County Treasurer Scott Grindstaff. As of Jan. 31, Grindstaff’s office had collected 89.71 percent of real estate taxes. Due to the delayed due date, there was no collection report on personal property tax collections.
*Heard and update from Sarah Hodges, director of tourism and talent development for the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Association. Hodges shared a video that is being used by German company SCHOCK to attract new employees to its Henry County location.
*Approved an additional appropriation of $10,500 from asset forfeiture funds for investigative software that will assist investigators in solving various incidents.
*At the request of Public Safety Director Matt Tatum, awarded a sole-source contract for an ambulance re-chassis in the amount of $154,295 to Vest Sales and Service, Inc.
*Approved resolutions for bridge memorials to honor fallen police officers. The resolutions will be forwarded to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) for further review and approval, as required by state law. The designated bridges are U.S. 220 at the Smith River as the George Melvin Brown Memorial Bridge; Virginia 1228 at the Smith River as the George S. Frame Memorial Bridge; Virginia 701 at the Smith River as the John J. Johnston Fieldale Bridge; U.S. 220 at William F. Stone Highway as Paul Edward Grubb Memorial Bridge; U.S. 220 at Virginia 57 as the Sgt. J. Michael Phillippi Memorial Bridge, and Virginia 220B at Reed Creek as the Willis Herman Ferguson Memorial Bridge.
*At Vaughn’s request, approved a split precinct waiver for voting precinct #603 Ridgeway #1 and the Town of Ridgeway. Hall said the General Assembly requires each voting precinct to be wholly contained within a single congressional district, Senate district, House of Delegates district, and local districts. However, a locality can request a waiver in specific circumstances. In this case, the precinct in question contains the Town of Ridgeway, constituting a split precinct because some voters live within the town limits and others do not.
*Approved the appropriation of fiscal year (FY) 2021 carryover funds of $50,000 to the FY21 school budget for school-related capital projects.
*Reappointed Rodney Thacker and Wesley Caviness to the Industrial Development Authority for 4-year terms, ending March 31, 2026.
*Reappointed J.R. Powell to the Dan River Alcohol Safety Action Program Board for a 3-year term, ending March 31, 2025.
*Approved a resolution commending the Hon. Judge David Williams on his retirement. Williams will retire at the end of February after serving the community for over 42 years, with more than 30 years as the county’s circuit court judge.
*Heard from a representative from the Virginia Department of Transportation, who said the department would like to hold the public hearing on the 6-year plan for Henry County at the board’s April meeting.
*Approved rezoning request for Wayne A. Willard/Twin Oak Properties, LLC. The applicant requested the rezoning of approximately 1.05 acres in front of 51 Sandy River Road in the Iriswood District from suburban residential to commercial for the development of commercial self-storage units.