Bath Supervisors may extend themselves “too far”
It’s a tough thing when a county realizes part way through a year with a tight budget, that some major unanticipated adjustments need to be made. Residents with interest in plans for the Visitors Center intended for a property in Mitchelltown, purchased for that purpose, may want to pay attention. The board has expressed interest in a different piece of property in Hot Springs. There will be two more opportunities for public to give input and ask questions, one at the October 10th regular monthly board meeting, and another at a less formal Town Hall meeting at the Hot Springs firehouse on a date to be decided.
Another unanticipated expense is new election equipment to be put into use by this November. The county electoral board knew they were going to be replacing touch screen machines used since 2004, but they were still in the process of exploring their options. Charles Garratt, Bath Registrar, explained.
“We’re facing, we were facing, a deadline of June 2020. Unfortunately at ten minutes to five on Friday afternoon, the state board of elections changed the whole game.” Bath County is one of twenty-two counties in Virginia mandated to return to a voting procedure that includes a paper trail in time for November’s election, or face being uncertified. Local voters, and poll workers will recognize the “optical scan”, or paper ballot system as one used in elections before the touch screens. The county has the opportunity to pay the roughly eighty-five thousand dollars for the mandated change in two installments over the next year. Mr. Garratt also updated the board and public on two local positions, both school board and supervisor, open after a two-year interval. In the Cedar Creek District, Eddie Ryder will be running as a write-in candidate for supervisor, and Brian Secoy, who is currently School Board chairman, runs also as a write-in candidate in the Millboro District.
While it was mostly a procedural item, two representatives, one from the Virginia Forestry Association and another from the Nature Conservancy asked the board for their support in a letter to the Forest Service. They spoke for a large collaboration of stakeholders seeking to extend acreage of the Rich Hole and Rough Mountain wilderness study areas in the Lower Cowpasture Restoration Project. Both speakers emphasized local support is critical for the designations. Stuart Hall, Williamsville District, expressed his opposition to adding land for study because it is rendered inaccessible for elderly outdoorsmen or hunters with disabilities who have a hard time getting into such remote, roadless areas. He referred to the Forest Service.
“They have to concede to do things in a normal manner that sensible people would understand, rather than letting them burn down if they catch on fire. Or letting that timber fall down and rot before anybody can get in there and use it.”
Despite Mr. Hall’s objection the three other supervisors present did vote in favor of sending a letter of support for including more acres in those two wilderness study areas.