The Henry County Board of Supervisors reviewed the fiscal year 2022-23’s goals at a recent planning session.
County Administrator Dale Wagoner said the goals were more general terms.
One goal involved the Blue Ridge Regional Airport.
“The airport’s doing a tremendous job right now,” Wagoner said. “The county bought the land a few years ago and expanded the runway. We recently sold it back to the airport so they can begin that process.”
Wagoner said Airport Road was relocated for the airport’s expansion, and there currently are about $25 million worth of projects in the works over the next five years, including” expanding the runway, relocating more of Airport Road to provide for more hangers, and they also plan to build a new terminal.”
Wagoner said a resolution will be presented to the board later this month to work with the airport to apply for airport road lane funds.
“Only localities can apply for it,” he explained, “so with your permission, we’re going to apply for some transportation lanes where we can relocate Airport Road and they’ll provide all the match for it.”
Wagoner said the county did not accomplish its goal of building a new shell building.
“At this point in time, I don’t think that’s the best use of our money right now. Getting Lot #2 graded is our best option as far as economic development,” he said.
When the county’s last shell building was built, it cost $2.2 million. Current estimates place the cost between $11-12 million, Wagoner said, and added the county’s goal of identifying a new industrial park site is in the works. Meanwhile, Lot #2 was identified as the most attractive and best use of land.
“I have asked for a quote from a consultant that did our study many years ago that recommended we buy Commonwealth Crossing,” Wagoner said. “I hope in our budget documentation we’ll have the recommendation to fund that study to do that, and take a look at all our current industrial parks” as well as “look for large pieces of land that could make a really good industrial park 20 years from now.”
The goal of expanding utilities up U.S. 58 West is still in progress. The county received a grant to expand the sewer line about a mile, Wagoner said and noted the county also received money to expand broadband in the county.
“The money’s half the battle, right,” he said.
Wagoner said he believes the supervisors completed their goal of supporting education and trades.
“The only thing we didn’t fund in their (Henry County Schools) budget last year was a recommendation to lower the facilities money because they got $3.5 million in new school money. So, in essence, you contributed more to education and not facilities,” he said.
The county also is continuing a partnership with Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) and working to meet the trade needs of local industries.
Wagoner said he thinks the county also continues to make progress on improving tax collection efforts.
“We lean pretty heavily on the Treasurer, and it’s still about like it was last year,” he said.
While there is no county-organized Healthy Henry County Initiative, Wagoner believes the county has made strides to meet that goal.
“For years now, we have had a very good working relationship with the Martinsville-Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness. We put a lot of money into that organization to build healthy initiatives in the community,” he said.
Wagoner said that relationship led to the county starting work on the trails, to promote walking and exercising, especially work on the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail.
“The Martinsville-Henry County Health Department has hired two community health workers with the goal of addressing health issues within the community,” he said.
The goal of having new scoreboards for the schools was not achieved.
“The budget last year included $35,000 in the school budget to purchase a scoreboard, but the Board of Supervisors has no authority to tell the schools how they spend their money,” he said.
Wagoner said he believes the school board does not plan the purchase at this time.
The goal of recognizing Parks and Recreation champions was accomplished, as was the goal of an expansion with the Public Service Authority (PSA).
“The PSA probably applied for more grants in the last year than we have in a long time,” Wagoner said. “We’re fortunate to get $6.2 million to replace all waterlines in Fieldale,” all of which are “many years old.”
Other sewer lines were installed, including one on U.S. 58, and the county applied for grants for more expansion projects.
For future expansion to occur, residents will need to respond to surveys to determine potential interest in water and sewer services.
The county is meeting the goal to broadcast all supervisor meetings live.
“Since the pandemic started, we record every single board meeting and post them the next day to our website and on YouTube,” Wagoner said.
The goal of giving all county employees pay raises also was met, with “across the board five percent for all employees” pay hikes last year, Wagoner said. “We also fully implemented $4,160 to sheriffs, deputies, and public safety employees.”
A list of goals for the upcoming fiscal year included priority projects of grading Lot #2, working on broadband expansion, improving employee compensation and benefits, and updating the county’s comprehensive plan.
Other goals include working to improve rescue squad relations, airport expansion, expanding utilities up U.S. 58 West, working to find a hotel/motel to locate in the county, finalizing the plan to address opioids, and expanding the solar ordinance in the Iriswood District.
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