By Debbie Hall
Representatives of outside agencies and county department heads were among those to address the Patrick County Board of Supervisors during a work session Thursday.
Greg Preston, executive director of the Piedmont Community Services (PCS) board said PCS is one of 40 community services boards in Virginia. It provides services to Patrick, Henry and Franklin counties and the City of Martinsville, he said.
The agency provides “a host of services,” including the 26 different services in 10 separate programs offered in Patrick, Preston said.
Services provided locally include a same day access service, in which anyone in need of help with a mental health or substance abuse issue may go to office “and you will be seen,” Preston said. He added that the agency also provides an emergency service that is operational 24 hours per day.
Services also are provided to students in Patrick County schools, with six service managers serving more than 150 students, and 14 families with infants, he said. PCS and the school division provide e-backpack services, and a telehealth program for students, Preston added.
Jail based services offered include two programs — Intercept 2, “when we do pretrial” work, and Intercept 4, which provides services for those being discharged from jail, Preston said, adding the agency also “recently requested more funding to add services to” inmate in the jail.
According to Preston, the agency employs a total of 450, including 44 working in Patrick County, not including administrative staff, which are frequent visitors, or maintenance.
He added PCS was created in 1972 by a joint resolution by the service areas. Since then, it has expanded. In 1989, created Little Ivy Group Home in Vesta, which currently houses seven individuals. Apartments also were later built in the Vesta area.
The agency in 2002 “started a Horizons program for individuals who have behavior health concerns,” Preston said, adding that in 2008, it built a new clinical office on Jeb Stuart Highway in Patrick Springs, and by 2016, had grown to about 12 service providers.
“This year, we have about 89 percent growth,” Preston said, and noted that from January 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020, PCS served 1,084 individuals in Patrick County, including 542 females and 542 males.
The number of individuals served by age range was 173 children aged 0 to 10-years; 228 children or young adults, aged 11 to 20; 332 individuals aged 21 to 40, and 262 people aged 41 to 60, he said.
Data included in a breakdown of services to show which services were needed, included 575 individuals assessed and evaluated for same day access, Preston said. Additionally, the agency provided 189 emergency services, 500 for mental health case management, 517 mental health services and provided 249 people with outpatient mental health services.
Current data suggests that “one in five individuals will experience some type of mental health” issue such as depression or anxiety, Preston said. “It is forecast that will dramatically increase in the coming months. I just ask the county to be a good partner. Regardless of what your decision is this evening, we are here to serve Patrick County.”
*Ricky Walker, executive director of the Anchor Commission, which serves Patrick and Henry counties and the City of Martinsville, encouraged the board to increase to its annual allocation to the agency by $3,075.
Anchor operates a group home, proving diversion services to youngsters in the court system or those considered at-risk, he said, adding that other services provided include a GPS program and a substance abuse service.
Walker explained that youngsters were housed at the home five days per week until January, when it was certified to house clients 7-days per week.
He added that seven full- and seven part-time employees at Anchor help provide the housing and other services to youngsters for less than does W.W. Moore, a juvenile detention center in Danville.
“We’ve had young men from Patrick County who spent several months in Anchor. It would only take 21 days in W.W. Moore to make up that difference” requested by the increase, Walker said. “If we can continue to provide shelter care long term, it will save you more on the back end” than the increase will cost, he added.
The majority of the facility’s funds – 65 percent — are provided by the state, Walker said. The localities it services provide the remaining 35 percent.
“It’s been 10 years since we’ve requested any kind of an increase,” Walker said, adding that Anchor is now waiting for restrictions to be lifted “before bringing the kids back in.”
Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said “I think financially that this (Anchor) would be a huge relief from” the Danville detention center. “I think this would be a huge benefit financially.”
*Sandra Belcher, tourism director, said she believed supervisors “had questions about my budget. I really don’t have a budget. Whatever we get in, we use for marketing and payroll, and right now, it’s one day at a time.”
Belcher explained the funds her department receives are from the Transient Occupancy Tax.
Tourism is provided a tally of the revenues, and then determines what can be spent and where, she added.
“If I’m asked to reduce the budget, then the revenue will be offset,” she said, adding that several festivals already have been cancelled for the year.
Currently, she said the tourism committee is determining “priorities of what needs to be paid now,” a trend that likely will continue for six months, “unless we have an influx of lodging tax.”
The Tourism Advisory Committee, (TAC), has a called meeting in May and to review the COVID-19 impact on tourism and revenues, Belcher said, adding that “our number one goal is marketing the county. That’s Virginia Code; that’s the law.”
The committee then will continue “on down the list” of potential projects to determine which ones it can fund, Belcher said. That list includes “everything,” she added.
In other matters, Steve Terry, of the Blue Ridge District and chairman of the Patrick County Broadband Committee, said a new potential source that would provide up to $20 million has been identified to help pay for broadband updates. If the county is approved for that project, it is not required to provide a local match, Terry said.
However, “an engineering plan is required. Developing the plan will cost $50,000. The county must commit to initial payment of $25,000 due on June 1” and the additional payment in September/October, Terry said.
Bryce Simmons, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority, has applied for a grant to reimburse the county for $35,000 of that cost, leaving only $15,000 remaining, Terry said. But, he added that the grant will not awarded in time to meet the deadlines.
“The county simply must find a way to fund this study and go after this huge opportunity,” Terry said, adding a fundraising campaign is being planned.
Clyde Deloach, of the Blue Ridge district, said he will donate funds to the campaign if others support it. He added that he also supports “some kind of funding for the project.”
County Attorney Alan Black recommended that the county not be involved in fundraising. Black said he does not see “any problem with them trying to solicit funds, as long as it’s clear what the funds” are to be used for. Once the fundraising goal is met, monies can be put into county fund and earmarked the project.
*Charles Vivier commented about Land Use Taxation. According to his research, he said the tax would be advantageous to farmers, but he did not believe it would help the county.
The county currently does not use that type of taxation, officials said.
*Jason Brown, a building official, asked for his budget to remain the same. He explained that although the office is closed to the public and transactions are handled via the postal service, the building department otherwise has not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t seen any projects stop. In fact, a lot of people have time at home and are doing some projects” to their homes, he said, adding “the virus really hasn’t affected us whatsoever.”
Brown said the mornings are spent in the office, until about 10 a.m., to complete paperwork, accept calls from contractors, etc., “and figure out where we’re going.” Afternoons are spent on the road, inspecting at job sites, he said, and explained requests are not handled first-come, first serve, but rather according to urgency and location, starting with those farthest out in the county and then working back.
*Mickey Martin, coordinator of the 911 Center, also asked for her budget to remain the same.
Crystal Harris, vice board chairman and of the Smith River District, said “well we know we’re going to have to cut somewhere” as the supervisors grapple to balance the budget which currently has a nearly $900,000 deficit. “Everybody’s going to have to take a cut.”
“This acts as a lifeline,” Martin said.