By Staff Reports
Patrick County’s Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution has prompted calls from officials in several other localities, County Administrator Tom Rose said.
“They want the wording or they ask for copies” of the resolution Patrick supervisors unanimously adopted on Nov. 18, he said.
Rose speculated that officials in other localities may be preparing to consider similar resolutions in response to an expected flurry of proposals originally part of a sweeping gun control package Gov. Ralph Northam introduced during a special session of the General Assembly in July 2019.
Although that session ended abruptly, concerns linger about gun control measures that may be proposed to state legislators. Many believe the proposals may have a better chance of passage as after a majority of Democrats took control of both houses of the state legislature after the election.
“Basically, it was a resolution of support for what is already our Second Amendment right as identified by the U.S. Constitution,” Rickie Fulcher, board chairman, said.
Noting that he was in the majority of supervisors who felt it was important to formally adopt the resolution as it was presented, Fulcher said “I have not had the first negative comment. I’ve not had any negative feedback. Everything has been positive.”
He also said many called him in advance of the vote, encouraging him to support the county’s adoption of the resolution.
Before the vote was taken, Alan Black, county attorney, said certain portions of the resolution were prohibited by state law.
Crystal Harris, of the Smith River District, said that she and other board members patiently listened as Black detailed his objections.
“Then, I judged my understanding of it and voted my conscience. I voted for the people of this county,” Harris said. “I respect his (Black’s) opinion, but I didn’t agree with it. I felt strongly about (supporting) it, and I felt that is what the majority of not just the Smith River District, but all of Patrick County, wanted.”
Jane Fulk, Dan River District, said.
She has received no negative feedback on the county’s adoption of the resolution. “I had several calls wanting me to support it” before the meeting.
Lock Boyce, of the Mayo River District, and Karl Weiss, of the Blue Ridge District, also supported the resolution.
“I can understand that he (Black) doesn’t want us to do anything illegal, but this is a resolution. Just like a statement we’re sending. This isn’t like we’re changing law,” Fulk said.
In other matters at their Nov. 18 meeting, supervisors:
* Weiss, who lost the November contest to Clyde DeLoach, noted the meeting was the last he planned to attend. He said he appreciated the 12 years he served on the board.
* Adopted a resolution in honor of former Gov. Gerald Baliles, a Patrick County native who served as the 65th governor. Baliles, who died Oct. 29, “certainly was a statesman in Virginia, and recognized throughout the country,” Fulcher said.
In the resolution, the board “expresses its gratitude for the hours of service and selfless sacrifice” that Baliles gave to the county, Fulcher said. The board also adjourned in Baliles’ honor.
* Heard a report from Interim School Superintendent Dr. J. David Martin.
In an update on the superintendent search, Martin said the school board has completed first and second interviews with prospective candidates and in on track for a Special Called School Board Meeting and announcement scheduled for Dec. 5.
Martin also noted the school division has secured a consultant to provide more data and potential cost saving measures regarding health insurance. “We’re not saying the current” consultant is providing erroneous information, “but we want to know if there are ways we can save money” on health insurance costs, Martin said, adding the consultant also was asked to provide various options like calculating the costs for the school division and county alone versus the costs of the two together.
“My thought in that is we are stronger together than apart,” he said, adding “we want to look at ways that show our power” together, particularly as the county and school division prepare for the upcoming budget season.
He also noted that he hopes school employees do not lose any money as a result of increased insurance costs. “They may not get a raise but,” Martin said he hopes to “keep them whole on what they have.”
Martin also said that he is exploring free resources for teachers and students that are offered by the New College Institute (NCI) in Martinsville.
* Unanimously approved proposed changes to the county’s Communication Tower Ordinance and the Ordinance to Regulate Manufactured Home Parks. The votes were taken after the board held separate public hearings. No one spoke at either hearing. The changes were needed to ensure compliance with state regulations/policies, according to discussion at the meeting.
* Heard from David Kuser, of the Mayo River District. He requested the board to provide facts on the 2018-19 expenditure to Waste Management, as well as the total tonnage and total loads from the Transfer Station. Kuser said he has heard conflicting stories about the information requested, and “I’m getting very confused. I would like to get the real facts on tonnage and loads” and on the 2018-19 expenditure.
* Heard a report from Steve Terry, chairman of the Broadband Committee. Terry noted that “in a few short weeks, we should know if we will be a winner with the grants.” The county has applied for a $1.3 million grant to start upgrading broadband service, “and we are hopeful. We’ve been told that we’ve got a real good chance. If we do get that, it will be for the first phase” of the project, which will include areas in Patrick Springs, Woolwine and Meadows of Dan, he said.
“It will not do everything that needs to be done in those areas probably, but then we will go on (searching) for additional funding sources. We will be applying for additional grants either way,” Terry said.