By Kim Barto Meeks
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office has once again been re-accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC).
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry was recognized Tuesday afternoon in a presentation by Pulaski Police Chief Gary Roche and VLEPSC Commissioner and City of Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper during the regular meeting of the county Board of Supervisors.
In his remarks to the board, Roche noted that accreditation is a voluntary process that requires participating agencies to meet 192 professional standards of the commission in all aspects of their operations. He praised the Henry County Sheriff’s Office “for their commitment to law enforcement excellence.”
Accreditation “is one openly transparent means by which citizens and government leaders can be assured that an agency is maintaining ethical standards and benchmarks of performance to which the community has a right to expect,” Roche said. It also means that local law enforcement is “in compliance with established state-of-the-art policies and procedures.”
During the presentation, he shared written remarks from Michael W. Layman, leader of the accreditation assessment team that toured the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and interviewed various agency staff members.
“Every member of the agency was friendly and well-informed in every contact with the assessment team. These qualities were also observed by the team when deputies were seen dealing with the public,” Layman said in his remarks. “The strength of this agency is shown by the dedication of the members of this organization to the citizens within the agency’s service area and to the profession of law enforcement.”
Also during the Oct. 22 meeting, the Board of Supervisors learned that local households have saved $163 each in state and local taxes each year as a result of taxes generated by tourist spending. This was presented by Martinsville-Henry County Assistant Director of Tourism Beth Stinnett, who shared figures on economic impact as well as the agency’s strategic plan for marketing the area.
She also shared goals from the tourism department’s “Destination Plan 2023” to build a brand around MHC being an “active lifestyle destination with unique cultural experiences.” This includes continuing to revitalize uptown Martinsville, because, “the consultant told us you cannot have a successful tourism program without a vibrant downtown,” Stinnett said.
The board also heard from Lisa Watkins, head of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, who gave a presentation on the Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (CPEG). Watkins shared that an 8-week entrepreneur “boot camp” program in partnership with Patrick Henry Community College has yielded 153 graduates so far.
“A lot of graduates have started their own business and are still in business,” she said. “The success rate of these businesses has been phenomenal.” Typically, Watkins said, new business ventures have a 15 percent success rate over a five-year period, whereas “we have a 85 percent success rate.”
These businesses have generated $191,000 in revenue, $1.1 million in new capital investment and 113 new jobs, she said. The next boot camp will be held in spring 2020.
Watkins also said the West Piedmont Business Development Center, also known as the small business incubator, is at 97 percent occupancy. The only un-occupied suite in the building is having work done to address a moisture issue, she said, so in fact all the rentable space in the incubator is being used.
There are 20 current small business tenants and 35 “graduates” — businesses that have expanded beyond the incubator. One success story Watkins shared is Perkins Medical Services, which “started out as a one-person, part-time business, and it’s created three jobs now.”
The Chamber continues to work with consulting firm Retail Strategies to generate leads on recruiting potential new retail businesses to Martinsville-Henry County, she said. Two recent examples of leads generated were Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and the recently opened Cook-Out in Collinsville.
During his remarks to the Board of Supervisors, County Administrator Tim Hall told the board there is a “pretty strong possibility” they will need a special called meeting before the next regular monthly meeting regarding jail financing. It is tentatively set for Nov. 13.
Hall also said that they are “hopeful of rescinding the burn ban” by the end of the week, thanks to recent rainfall. Hall said that those concerned about the ban affecting tourists in the area for Race Weekend, the Martinsville Speedway and RV Park have both asked for and received special permits for use of open burning.
Supervisor Debra Buchanan also shared that the Horsepasture area community meeting has been set for Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Horsepasture Ruritan Building. Buchanan encouraged local residents to “come out and find out what’s going on in Horsepasture and Henry County.”