Bath Board of Supervisors meets for July

Something old and something new were both parts of what Bath County’s Board of Supervisors talked about on Tuesday evening.   The new, is the Speyside Bourbon Stave Mill, which is up and running in Millboro. Supervisor Eddie Hicklin recognized the role the Economic Develop Authority played, and will continue to play, in any economic progress the county could make. He commented,

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone on the EDA at the time when that happened, and obviously to Wayne and Maggie Anderson. They’re the ones who really, really brought it home. It was brought to us by Cary Chenery of the Shenandoah Partnership, but it couldn’t have happened without Maggie and Wayne, so I just want to say ‘thank you’.”

Something old, was concern about the Bathhouses in Warm Springs owned by the Omni Homestead. Prior to the board’s vote on increasing the hotel’s Transient Occupancy tax to support Economic Incentive Performance grants, their attorney, Michael Lockaby clarified how money from the tax could be spent. The actual performance standards contract to which the resort will be held is still in the draft stages, but several members of the public encouraged the board to be clear in their preferences about exactly what are considered large capital expenditures.

“The language that is in the ordinance is an exact quote from the state statute, and we can’t expand what the state statute allows us to do. I mean we can say what we want, but at the end of the day, what the state statute allows id all we can do.”

Once the tax is collected by the Omni Homestead and paid to the county, it will be held in a special fund before being administered by the EDA back to the resort in the form of grants. Mr. Lockaby continued,

“However, I think that based upon the past interpretations of how language establishing special funds at the state level, there have been a few supreme court cases, this can be somewhat liberally interpreted to include other structures that are closely associated with the hotel, that are part of the broader resort property; I also understand that that’s an interpretational matter.”

Quite a few people, a thousand on one petition provided to the board, interpret the Jefferson Pools, as being the resort property that needs urgent attention. Phil Deemer, of Preservation Bath, an organization founded quite a few years back to save the pools spoke about the architect who provided the Historic Structures report. “Gibson Worsham, again, the guy that know the property better than anyone else does, he said they can be properly restored, as they are standing now, that they don’t have to be totally taken down and totally reconstructed, that there’s enough of the original fabric, that there’s enough of the structural integrity of the buildings that they can be properly restored, you have to deal with the foundation, but they don’t have to be taken down first. That is so much better than if they fall down, and they have to be started over again. “ Mr. Deemer expressed gratitude to the hotel for its seeming level of interest in preserving the pools, but noted the highly recommended efforts to stabilize them, while deciding about what to do next have not begun at all.

The board approved the increase in the occupancy tax, with Bart Purdue abstaining because he is an employee. They also approved the resolution in favor of the Intersection Improvement in Hot Springs through the Smart Scale Program. There will be no roundabout, only increased lighting, widened sidewalks and a few other details, which can be seen with the design, option #3, in the public record.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

Current Weather