Highland County Board of Supervisors June Meeting – Part 1
At the Highland County Board of Supervisors June meeting, there were some comments regarding the county’s proposed EMS ordinance. During board member comments, Board Chairman Harry Sponaugle encouraged everyone to get facts from both sides regarding the new EMS ordinance. He asked citizens to be informed, because he said there is a lot of one-sided information. He asked that the ordinance be given a fair look from both sides. The public hearing on the EMS ordinance will be held at the Board’s work session on Wednesday, June 16.
During open public comment, there were two comments about the EMS issue. One speaker expressed concern about the elderly being able to afford the EMS fee and also questioned if the Board was listening to the EMS volunteers. Chairman Harry Sponaugle said the Board is working with the volunteers, talking with them trying to get it worked out. He said paid staff can’t do without volunteers and volunteers can’t do without paid staff.
There was another comment stating concern about taxes and the EMS fee increasing in the future and creating a hardship, especially on the older population.
County Attorney Melissa Dowd discussed meeting policies regarding the pandemic. She said that as of June 1, the State of Emergency is still in effect and she outlined current CDC policies, which change frequently. Dowd recommended a county policy that as of June 1, citizens who have not been vaccinated must wear masks and maintain social distancing and citizens who have been vaccinated can make their choice on both masks and social distancing. She recommended signage explaining the policy. The Board adopted the policy as of June 1.
Dowd also explained that virtual meetings will continue for now, since the State of Emergency in Virginia is still in effect. Supervisor David Blanchard said he didn’t want to do away with virtual meetings, he wanted to still have them available. He said the virtual option has opened up the meetings to the general public and it is worth keeping to allow people to participate that way. He also recommended opening up the Board’s meeting room in some capacity to have seating for in person attendance. County Administrator Roberta Lambert added that the outside doors to the courthouse are now unlocked, but some offices inside are still locked.
The Board adopted the Central Shenandoah Hazard Mitigation Plan, pending the county attorney’s review of the resolution. The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission updated the plan and local governments need the plan in order to be eligible to apply for grant funding.
During public comment, concerns were expressed about overgrown weeds, broken concrete sidewalks, and houses in disrepair in Doe Hill. County Attorney Melissa Dowd explained that if the houses are a safety hazard, a county ordinance may apply, requiring them to be boarded up.
For more from the Highland County Board of Supervisors June meeting, stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.