By Brandon Martin
The Henry County Board of Supervisors awarded the 2019 Jack Dalton Community Service Award to Dr. Joseph DeVault, former At-Large Board Member for Henry County Public Schools.
The award is presented annually to the Henry County resident who best exemplifies the standards for community service set by the late Jack Dalton, who served as a member of the Board of Supervisors for more than 24 years and was serving as the chairman at the time of his death on May 24, 2000.
Dr. J. David Martin, of the Iriswood District, made a motion to present the award to DeVault and it carried unanimously.
“This year’s recipient has played an integral part in making our community a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Martin said. “In fact, he has been a part of our community for many years, choosing to live here and work since the late 1960s.”
DeVault has served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and school board member.
Martin quoted the person nominating DeVault for the award as saying “‘I truly believe that it is through the recipient’s leadership that the Henry County School System stands head and shoulders above other school systems. In addition to his contributions to education, the recipient has volunteered with Piedmont Arts, Grace Network and his church. This year’s recipient exemplifies the characteristic of selfless community service that makes the perfect candidate for the Jack Dalton Award.”
Lois Dalton, the late-chairman’s widow, was in attendance to present the award to DeVault, alongside of the board.
“I certainly appreciate this and I thank the board and all of those that had any part,” DeVault said. “I had so much respect for Mr. Dalton for so many years he was a leader here in the county and he did so much for the county with his public service. I feel very honored that I’m holding a plaque with his name on it.”
After expressing his gratitude, DeVault shifted his focus towards the schools.
“Our schools have been successful and I’m smart enough to know that it has more to do with those classroom teachers…they are out there where the rubber kind of meets the road…and they are working for the betterment of the young people in Henry County which translates into a better environment for all of us.”
DeVault said “it is home to me and I’m proud of saying that I’m from Henry County.”
In other matters, the board:
*Heard a report from Mark Heath, President and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. Speaking on the collective efforts of Martinsville-Henry County and surrounding localities, he said “you’ll see a fairly robust economic development effort in Southern Virginia.” He also said that clients typically look at the larger geographical area and not each individual locality when making business decisions.
Henry County’s 2019 unemployment rate was 3.1 percent and Martinsville’s rate was 3.9 percent during the same time. These numbers compare to 4.8 and 7.3 percent respectfully for areas in 2006. Between fiscal years (FY)2016-2020, Martinsville-Henry County ranked tied for 7th in localities based on number of job announcements with 28. The area ranked 13th in new jobs announced with 1,477 and it ranked 21st in capital investment with $185 million. As far as regional comparisons, Martinsville-Henry County ranked first with Pittsylvania County (not including the numbers for the City of Danville) coming in second place.
*Jenny Joyce, representing the Treasurer’s Office, reported on Delinquent Tax Collection Efforts. As of Dec. 31, 2019, the county collected 93.86 percent of 2018 personal property taxes, with $97,891.04 collected for the month. During the same period, the county collected 95.64 percent of 2018 real estate taxes, or $105,901.56. Taxing Authority Consulting Services has collected $1,280,760.52 since Jan. 1. The amount of debt set-off is $111,585.91.
*The board approved a request from Henry County Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer to appropriate $939,997 of unexpended school funds from FY19. The funds will be used to cover the cost of capital projects, including the roof replacement at Bassett High School.
*Approved the appropriation of federal grant funds in the amount of $726,014 received from the Virginia Department of Transportation to assist with the construction of Section 6A of the Dick & Willie Passage Trail. This section of the multi-use trail will extend from the end of the trail near Mulberry Creek to the trailhead on Spruce Street. Once this section is complete, the Dick & Willie Passage Trail will be over 10.5 miles of continuous paved trail.
*Awarded the sole-source $384,998 contract to 11400, Inc., for kitchen equipment needed in the construction of the Henry County Adult Detention Center.
*Appropriated $87,931 from State Asset Forfeiture funds for the purchase of ballistic personal protective equipment for the SWAT team to be purchased from Town Police Supply in Collinsville.
*Appropriated $5,988 received from the U.S. Department of Justice 2019 State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) grant. The funds will be used for deputy overtime to cover staff shortages, special operations, and offsite security of inmates during medical procedures.
*Awarded a contract in the amount of $153,477 to Excel Truck Group in Cloverdale, Virginia for a new 2020 roll-off type refuse truck.
*Heard a presentation on preparations for the upcoming 2020 Census and updates to the Public Service Authority and County Employee Handbook.
*Received a report on General Highway Matters.
*Heard public comments from Dorothy Carter and Sybil Landreth, of the Henry County Education Association, about concerns of teacher salaries falling behind in steps. Landreth said the group did not protest doing what is good for students but they “do protest that payment for it was taken from monies that should have been wholly allocated to salaries.” Carter lobbied the board to “make sure they had enough funds for a capital improvements line item without harming salaries. Teachers should not have to sacrifice their pay checks to pay for capital improvements.”