Bath Supervisors hold Feb. Meeting

When the Bath County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday evening the 12th of February, they moved smoothly through the first several agenda items.  In his opening moments Chair, Richard Bird, Valley Springs district reported figures related to tourism over for 2017 through 2018 and the first month of 2019.  He described the seasonal fluctuations in sales at the Omni Homestead, and attributed a lack of snow this winter to lower guest numbers.  He also listed the tasks completed by the tourism office over the past year.  No other board members or any one from the public made comments at the beginning of the meeting.

The supervisors moved on to unanimously approve a rezoning request for Holmes C. McLaughlin, which will be agricultural general, and include proffered conditions of one horse and a rabbit pen.  They also voted in favor of a close transfer station permit.  This brings the county one step closer to offering single stream recycling because the facility could not operate under the old DEQ permit for transferring solid waste, at the same time as providing a temporary storage, sorting and transferring platform for recycling.  Once both disposal and recycling contracts are in place, there will be containers again at four locations Millboro Springs, West Warm Springs, Valley recreational area and the transfer station.  The board also approved the renewal of a fireworks permit for the Omni Homestead.

The board accepted a resignation from Robbie Chestnut, animal control officer.  Mr Chestnut resigned after 23 years, and Sherry Woodzell, who has been assisting for the past seventeen   years is moving into the position of shelter manager.      

One other change in that department is, it will be merged into the Sherrif’s Office instead of operating as an individual county entity.

Progress slowed a little when item 22-19 to cancel a work session, as described on the agenda  came up for discussion. 

Mr. Bird explained that meeting was intended to be quotes “a budgetary desire to look at what the Visitors Center was supposed to be” end quotes. 

Stuart Hall, Williamsville district made the following motion,

“I would move that the County Administrator be directed to work with Glave and Holmes to design a Visitor’s center with the goal of having a bid-ready plan by the end of the current fiscal year with the understanding that the total cost of the project will not exceed Fund 16 reserves and Fund 16 revenue for the remaining of this calendar year.

I would further move that the County Administrator be authorized to enter into an agreement with Glave Holmes for said design services if said contract can be negotiated with current budgeted funds in Fund 16.  For information purposes the county has $690,00 in fund 16 as of January 31st, 2019.” 

Mr. Hall suggested the plans for this building could include:

one office for tourism personnel, another for the Chamber of Commerce if they are interested,  a meeting room for 25 to thirty people, restroom facilities, a parking lot, and a pavilion for an outdoor market or events.  It’s expected the building could be between twenty-five and thirty thousand square feet thousand square feet. The largest invisible expenses would be storm water runoff permitting, and VDOT permitting for commercial access.  Even with these included, County administrator Ashton Harrison reported that Glave and Holmes, the architects, are confident they could produce a (quotes) “gem” within the proposed budget.  The motion in favor of cancelling the work session, and in addition to move forward with the visitors center, passed 3 to 2.  To further bolster the county’s efforts around tourism the board approved a contract for a management service with Mikula Harris, a firm based in Vinton, Virginia.  Some of the tasks Mikula Harris will take on are: developing a media plan, keeping the discover bath website updated, updating other data bases and software related to tourism, and increasing the county’s social media presence.  At the close of the meeting a few members of the public expressed concern that, despite these moves on behalf of tourism promotion, there does not appear to be a long term, or at least five-year plan for to keep visitors coming and returning to Bath County. 

The next regular Bath County Board of Supervisors meeting will be Tuesday, March 12th at 6:00 in the Warm Springs Courthouse.

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.

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