Clayton Kendrick, of the Mayo River District, will serve as the chairman of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors and Denise Stirewalt, of the Peters Creek District, will serve as vice-chairman.
The board held its reorganizational meeting at its Jan. 9 meeting. Traditionally the positions are rotated among board members.
Stirewalt nominated Clyde DeLoach, of the Blue Ridge District, to serve as chairman for a second year in a row. The nomination died for lack of a second.
DeLoach then nominated Kendrick. Brandon Simmons, of the Dan River District, seconded the motion.
DeLoach later nominated Stirewalt for the vice-chairman position. Simmons again offered a second.
After the vote was taken, and noting that she does not plan to seek reelection in November, Stirewalt said, “usually your vice-chairman does training with the chairman to be the chairman next year.”
The board also heard from several members of the public, including Malcolm Roach, Kurt Bozenmayer, Jessica Wilkins and Derek Wagner.
*As chief of the JEB Stuart Rescue Squad, Wagner discussed the squad’s billing practices and noted the squad is considering a change in billing practices for the services it provides.
Since he joined the squad 12 years ago, Wagner said the squad has used soft billing. Its income for the year, including contributions from the county, was $317,894 with its expenses being $313,962. The squad has $3,932 remaining in its coffers.
Wagoner said the figures include approximately $31,000 in insurance and $20,765 in ambulance repairs, plus salaries and wages.
“From April to part of January, we billed out over $704,106 after your maximum liable from insurance. We’ve deducted $292,440, which leaves us with $411,666 remaining,” he said.
Wagoner said the squad’s leadership and board of directors has decided that it may pursue different billing practices, including hard billing, which requires a bill to be paid, unless a patient files a hardship exemption that is approved by the squad.
*Wilkins discussed the county’s unofficial rule of not allowing county employees to work for multiple Emergency Management Services (EMS) agencies.
“As a single mother and first responder of Patrick County, I’m sure you can imagine the financial struggle someone as myself faces day to day. Due to the cost of living, inflation on the rise, and the minimal pay first responders receive, most of us find ourselves having to obtain two or even three jobs to be able to live comfortably,” she said.
Given the county’s policy, Wilkins said unfortunately many first responders must travel outside the county to seek employment, which means more money is spent on travel costs.
“I am asking you tonight to please consider lifting this policy that not only impedes myself and my fellow co-workers, but also hinders the lives of the other residents of our beloved community that I’m proud to serve,” she said.
*Roach addressed broadband concerns. He said there’s supposed to be reliable internet to everyone in the county by 2024, and asked if that was still the case.
Kendrick said the board was told there would be boots on the ground by September 2023.
“So, in four months they’re going to supply everyone in Patrick County with reliable internet,” Roach asked.
Roach said he lives off the U.S. 57 corridor where there is no cellular service. He also has no internet or cellular service if the power goes off.
“At that point in time, you can’t even dial 911. My neighbor next to me is 87 years old and his wife is 83 years old. If one of them was to be in trouble during a power outage, they would die,” he said.
Roach said it was said there would be “seamless and reliable broadband access” at the July 2022 board meeting. Also at that meeting, Patrick County Economic Development Director Sean Adkins said the county would have it by the end of 2023.
Roach requested that Adkins attend the next board meeting to answer broadband related questions.
*Bozenmayer inquired about the county’s broadband progress. He said the December 2020 meeting minutes include a statement that there’s potential for four or five internet service providers in the coming year or so in Patrick County
“In the last year, there seems to be a noticeable slackening in the number of reports about progress and timelines and potential providers. Instead, we are hearing more complaints about declining levels of service and difficulties in obtaining service,” he said.
Bozenmayer noted CenturyLink, a longtime county internet provider, is gone with mixed reviews on its replacement, BrightSpeed.
“In the latter half of 2022, I spoke to the board about how Xfinity told me that their service was not available in my area – although their cable passes directly over my garage and they park their trucks in my driveway to work on that cable,” Bozenmayer said, and added that he’s heard of several neighbors turning to satellite providers with installations costs of $600 and up.
“I hope that the Board of Supervisors can revive enough interest in broadband for Patrick County to the extent that we can hear a monthly, or even quarterly, report on progress and timelines,” he said.
Bozenmayer recalled that it was previously said the county would have broadband available to everyone in the county by the end of 2024.
“Well, it’s 2023 and I hope that we don’t have to wait until 2025 to hear if we’re making any progress,” he said.
In other matters, the board:
*Adopted the Code of Ethics.
*Adopted Robert’s Rules of Governance.
*Adopted the meeting schedule. The board will meet the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m. in the third-floor courtroom of the Patrick County Administration Building.
*Approved the meeting minutes.
*Approved the bills, claims, and appropriations.
*Approved a resolution honoring Gary Glenn DeBruhl, former member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
*Approved committee and other appointments for supervisors in the upcoming year.
Simmons was named to the Broadband and Recreation committee. He also was appointed as School Board Liaison and Town-County Liaison.
Doug Perry, of the Smith River District, was named to the E-911 committee, Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Committee, Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), Planning Commission, and STEP Board.
DeLoach was named a School Board Liaison and Town-County Liaison. He also was appointed to the Social Services Board and the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO).
Stirewalt was appointed to the Solid Waste Committee, Tourism Advisory Council (TAC), and West Piedmont Planning District Commission (WPPDC)
Kendrick remains the board’s liaison on the Patrick County Economic Development (EDA) Board, and was appointed to the Public Services Authority (PSA) Committee, West Piedmont Planning District Commission (WPPDC), and the WPPDC Executive Committee.
The entire board was placed on the Building Committee.
County Administrator Geri Hazelwood, Finance Officer Lori Jones, Treasurer Sandra Stone Simmons, and Kendrick were named to the budget committee.
Assistant County Administrator/Human Resources Director Donna Shough, Hazelwood, Simmons, and Kendrick were named to the Insurance Committee.
*Approved a resolution to terminate state maintenance of Virginia 809 – Epperson Lane.
*Heard from John Blaylock of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center about AirCare.
*Discussed the conflict-of-interest forms.
*Discussed the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the county’s hauling and disposal of waste. This is the third time the discussion of the RFP has been postponed on Kendrick’s assistance.
*Reappointed Roger Conner, David Lawson, and Nelson Stanley to the Building and Spacing Board of Appeals.