Highland Board Of Supervisors August Work Session

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you probably know that this is an election year.  Some Highland voters could potentially face a change in voting locations, a topic which the Highland Board of Supervisors addressed in their August work session, with a public hearing on a proposed Ordinance for the closing of the Wilson’s Mill Precinct and polling place.

County Attorney Melissa Dowd reminded the Supervisors ,via a staff report, that the Highland Electoral Board had attended the July 5th regular meeting, and recommended that the polling location be terminated. The Virginia Code allows for this to be done if the number of registered voters falls below 100, which the Electoral Board reported had occurred. In that meeting, they also cited lack of telephone communications and difficulty finding polling workers for that location. Voters would be incorporated into the Monterey district, which polls at the Monterey firehouse. The Code stipulates this action cannot occur within 60 days of a general election.

During the public comment period, Buddy Hunt and John Sweet, who vote in this location, opposed the decision to close. Mr. Sweet expressed surprise that there were less than 100 registered voters. Larry Bandy, who does not vote in the location, but is the chairman of the county Republican committee, reported that registrar Alice Shumate had told him there were 130 registered voters before the March 1st primary, and he had net received any expulsion reports. The speakers also cited extra travel distance burdens as potentially discouraging voters. Mr. Sweet pointed out that the line between districts was barely north of Mustoe, and a potential redrawing of this could lower travel time for others, and bring more voters into that precincts. He urged the Board to avoid the closure, at least for this year, until more study could be done. No members of the Electoral Board or registrar’s office were present for comments or questions.

Ms. Dowd informed the Supervisors that there was still time to make this decision at the September 6th meeting, and they chose to table the decision until then, to find out more information.

Josh Umar, Youth and Business Coordinator with The Highland Center, updated the Supervisors on the progress of the Center’s resident attraction program. Based on the work done with Craig Schroeder of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, surveys, focus groups, and meetings, materials had been produced, including a website, which is now live, www.highlandliving.org, and an accompanying brochure. Mr. Umar previewed the website for the Board, which features a number of Highland based entrepreneurs who have successfully built businesses in the county, and showcases the area’s natural beauty and opportunities for similar potential residents. The Board praised the materials, and Mr. Umar’s presentation.

The only other action item on the agenda was the opening and examination of sealed bids for the painting of exterior wood surfaces and annex roof of the courthouse. Only one bid was received, from Touch of Color, for the amount of $16,900 – which the Supervisors accepted.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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