By Staff Reports
The Henry County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution on June 22 supporting the county’s efforts in pursuing a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant for road improvements leading into the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre (CCBC).
The Rockingham County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to be a co-applicant for the federal grant at its June 21 meeting.
“Everybody knows the success of Commonwealth Crossing. What comes after that is how do we get people in and out of Commonwealth Crossing,” County Administrator Tim Hall said. “As Crown expands, as PressGlass expands, as the other sites are developed and expand, we need more significant and more robust infrastructure.”
David Gutermuth, a project consultant with the Timmons Group, attended the June 22 meeting to give an overview of the RAISE grant.
He said the total grand allocates $1 billion each year for projects across the country with the funds being split 50/50 between urban and rural localities.
“The primary purpose is surface transportation, whether it be rail, freight, port projects or significant roadway improvements to enhance regional or local economic prosperity,” Gutermuth said.
Localities designated as rural will have 100 percent of the project funded with federal dollars, meaning no local match is required on the grant.
The specific project proposed for CCBC is a diamond-style interchange on U.S. Route 220 which will be the future I-73 corridor.
“That (I-73) is something that has been on the federal government’s docket for a while. They really want to see that vision connect,” Gutermuth said. “That would connect, I believe, all the way up from South Carolina to Michigan as a huge economic corridor to serve the country.”
There is already an at-grade intersection near the entry way for the industrial park but in order to get it up to interstate standards, Gutermuth said that adjacent streets such as the Martinsville Loop will need to be converted to an interchange.
On the eastern portion of the road, there is a proposed traffic signal as part of the interchange to assist with operational and safety concerns.
In total, the project would amount to approximately $15 million in roadway improvements.
“The primary reason that this project needs to be realized and needs to come through is the significant truck traffic from the increase to all the freight and new businesses that are coming through here is going to put significant demand and it essentially shows that it is failing the projected growth rate for the traffic that is going to be imposed on this area by all of the business growth,” Gutermuth said.
Hall said safety is the number one priority for the project.
“At full build out, we will have some congestion there that we need to mitigate,” he said. “We anticipate up to 2,500 employees working in that park at full build out. That’s a lot of folks to get in and out safely.”
Hall said that PressGlass currently employs 140 people and out of that number, 45 live in North Carolina.
Mark Heath, president, and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said about 52 percent of county residents commute outside of the county daily for work.
“There are a lot of folks, almost 2,000 a day going into North Carolina,” Heath said. “We want to give those people a reason to turn into Commonwealth Crossing.”
Hall said the project has gained the support of U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
“They are helping us gain support from Washington,” Hall said. “They’ve also reached out to their peers in North Carolina. Our two senators are Democrats, and the North Carolina senators are both Republicans. This shows that you can reach across the aisle and get things done. They are all four working towards this project to be successful.”
The application for the grant is due July 12. If funding is received, Hall said environmental studies and pre-planning will begin in October. That would put construction starting around 2023-2024.
In other matters, the board:
*Appropriated the fiscal year 2021-2022 county budget.
*Approved a proclamation rescinding the local declaration of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic effective June 30.
*Received an update from Heath on the fiscal year 2021 annual report for the EDC. During the year, 184 new jobs were announced along with $150.5 million in capital investment. There was $7.97 million added to the annual payroll with the average hourly wage increasing from $16.53 an hour to $20.82 an hour.
*Approved a resolution in support of changes to the charter of the West Piedmont Planning District Commission.
*Approved a resolution authorizing applications for federal funding assistance from the Recreational Trail Program (RTP) through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for the Fieldale and Textile Trails connector project. The proposed project will connect the existing Fieldale and Textile Trails to the Fieldale Park and the commercial area of Fieldale.
*Approved a resolution honoring Refuse Director Mike Amos who is retiring June 30 after 40 years of service.
*Approved a resolution honoring Building Official Cecil Stone who is retiring June 30 after 27 years of service.
*Awarded a contract to Wellpath, Inc., of Nashville, for the inmate medical services at the new Adult Detention Center. The contract is a five-year agreement with three one-year extensions available. The agreement will start when the first inmate is moved into the new facility.
*Approved an additional appropriation for the Sheriff’s Department in funds received from insurance proceeds in the amount of $78,000 and awarded two contracts. One contract was with Hall Automotive in Virginia Beach for four 2021 Dodge Chargers totaling $136,839. The second contract was with Sheehy Ford in Richmond for four Ford Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles totaling $147,886.
*Awarded a contract to Prillaman Landscape Dimensions, Inc. for turf mowing, landscaping, and other outdoor maintenance at Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre (CCBC) and at the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek Industrial Park. The approximate value of the contract is $103,000 annually and it can be renewed for up to five years.
*Appropriated funds of $88,516 for repairs to the Fieldale Trail damaged from flooding during Hurricane Florence. A grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing 75 percent of the funds and it is matched with 20 percent from the state and five percent from Henry County.
*Appropriated $50,000 of the revenue generated from the sale of timber on the Bryant Property to allow for proper reseeding of the property.
*Approved an additional appropriation of $100,000 from the contingency fund to cover expenditures in the Board of Supervisors operating budget. The expenses are directly related to legal fees associated with reversion and other professional services associated with the conversion of John Redd Smith Elementary School to apartments.
*Awarded a contract to Excel Truck Group of $263,242 for a 2022 Mack front-loading garbage truck.
*Approved an additional appropriation of $600,615 from the general fund to cover costs related to the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but more than expenses allocated to the CARES Act grant funding.
*Approved the 2021-2027 six-year secondary road plan for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
*Approved a transfer appropriation of $26,874 from existing operating funds to facilitate the purchase of tasers from Axon Enterprise for the Sheriff’s Department.
*Heard an update from Hall on federal funds received by the county. He said $8.8 million in CARES Act funds were received and spent, with approximately $6.3 million going towards Public Safety salaries, $1.1 million on PPE and building upgrades, and the rest spent on teleworking, housing, and food assistance, and small business grants.
The county expects to receive $9.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds. Approximately $4.9 million has already been received and it must be obligated towards projects by Dec. 31, 2024. Examples of allowable expenses are responses to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, and payments to essential workers. The county also may replace lost revenues incurred during and resulting from the pandemic, but it cannot replenish financial reserves. Additional potential expenses include investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. The school system will get its own allocation of approximately $18 million.
*Appointed Crystal Lusk to the Piedmont Regional Community Services Board for a three-year term to expire in 2025.
*Renewed a contract for CPEG and Retail Strategies.
*Renewed a lease with Mt. Olivet Ruritan Club for the use of its ball field by Henry County Parks and Recreation.