Highland Board of Supervisors July Meeting

The Highland County Board of Supervisors received two important reports during their July regular meeting.

The first came from School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott, who updated the Board on the status of a fuel oil spill which occurred on the school grounds Monday evening. The issue was first discovered when resident Jody Colaw discovered a sick horse on his property on the Jackson River, just south of the school grounds. Upon investigation, he noticed a red tint to the creek water, and the smell of oil. The Highland County Fire Department responded, deploying booms and absorbent pads at several locations. Investigation revealed a leaking pipe on the school grounds, likely a threaded pipe which runs underneath the road – the amount which leaked was estimated to be 49-50 gallons.

The regional hazmat director was on the scene early Tuesday morning, and praised the work of the fire department, saying they had done everything correctly to contain the spill. DEQ is now the authority on the scene and directing the clean-up effort which is being done by two industrial clean-up companies, GES from Weyers Cave and Apex from Roanoke. Several temporary retention ponds will be built from sandbags – these are known as “underflow” ponds, which trap the oil on top while allowing water to continue to flow. A machine is then used to suck the spilled fuel away. If necessary, the creek may be flushed to clean pockets of oil n marshy areas. Dr. Schott said the nature of the spill, which apparently happened close to a drain tile, did not endanger groundwater, and soil contamination was likely minimal as well, although the extent as well as the nature of the leak would not be known until the area was excavated.

In the second item on the agenda, the Board heard a recommendation from the Highland Electoral Board that the Wilson’s Creek polling location in Mustoe be closed. Member Clay Hamilton reported that the number of registered voters for the location had fallen below 100, which was the Virginia state threshold. Also, the location has no landline phone, and cellular service is spotty. It was noted that the Virginia code states voters should have to drive no more than 20 minutes to a polling location, but this is open to interpretation, and can be affected by road and weather conditions. The Board will now investigate the proper procedures having received the electoral board’s recommendation.

In other items, the Board:

  • Approved two requests from the school board to transfer necessary funds to close out Fiscal Year 2016. The Board took no action on a request to allocate $60,000 from the Governor’s caboose Bill to the school capital improvement fund, since the funds have not yet been received and final amount is still in question;
  • Tabled a decision on a Joint Procurement Agreement with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission for On Call Consulting pending further legal review;
  • Appointed a committee consisting of Supervisor David Blanchard, County Administrator Roberta Lambert and Commissioner of the Revenue Darlene Crummet to interview prospective companies for the upcoming reassessment;
  • And approved the consent agenda

County resident John Sweet of Mustoe addressed the Board during public comment period, noting his displeasure with the mowing job done on US Route 220 by the state’s contractor.

The Board’s next meeting will be its regular work session on July 20th.

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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