Highland County Board of Supervisors June Meeting

Roadways and bridges in need of maintenance and repair are a nationwide issue. Where, when and how these repairs are made in Highland County was the main topic at the Highland Board of Supervisors June meeting, as representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation were on hand to present their six year plan.

Michael Branscome, from the Staunton District Office, presented the Board with a list of projects on secondary roads in the county to be undertaken in that period. They include:

  • Bridge approaches near Blue Grass, projected for this year
  • Paving of Seldom Seen Rd., near McDowell, projected for this year
  • Paving of Dug Bank Rd., near Hightown, projected for 2020
  • Reconstruction of Botkin Hollow Rd., near McDowell, projected for 2020

Margaret Smith of McDowell presented a petition with 90 signatures asking for steps to be taken regarding the Botkin Hollow Rd. Board chair David Blanchard explained that the road was on the list, but far down the road in terms of time. Mr. Branscome explained that the jobs ahead on the list had been planned since the 80’s or 90’s, and often, if these finish under budget, it can hasten other projects. Budget considerations are an issue,  and until more funding is received, these projects will likely continue to wait, as well as other roadways noted by those in attendance, including Cowpasture River Rd. and Davis Run.

Concerns were also raised about the types of maintenance used, specifically a section of roadway on Monterey Mountain which was patched the week before Memorial Day, using tar and gravel. It was noted the patch job created dangerous driving conditions just before one of the heaviest motorcycling weekends of the year. Board chair David Blanchard noted the effect this could have in efforts to attract tourists and bikers.

Highland Transportation Maintenance Manager Raymond Lightner explained that although the road surface had only been paved four years ago, it was requiring maintenance. He noted that after similar concerns had been raised before, VDOT had agreed to only patch Monday through Wednesday, and broom Thursday and Friday. He did note that while most jobs only require brooming once or twice, this particular job had been swept four times. He also noted in a follow up conversation that this area needed to be patched as quickly as possible for line painting scheduling.

Action on the six year plan was tabled until a later date.

The Board also considered ways to defray the costs of the purchase of new voting machines. It had asked county attorney Melissa Dowd to review the necessity of doing so. Dowd reported that her research showed that only the machines newly certified by the state could be used. She did, however, suggest an alternative for the Board to consider, consolidating voting precincts. Dowd stressed this was a very preliminary idea that had occurred to her to save costs by purchasing less machines, and she had not discussed this with the registrar or Electoral Board.

In other items, the Board:

  • Heard updates from Social Services, the Highland Sheriff’s office and Valley Program for Aging;
  • Recognized June as.Business Appreciation Month;
  • And set Monday, June 29th as the date for for fiscal year close out and amendments to the 2015 budget.

The supervisors next scheduled meeting will be a joint meeting with the School Board on June 15th.


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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