Highland County Board of Supervisors September 2023 Meeting – Pt 2

This is part two of our story on the Highland County Board of Supervisors meeting, held on September 5.

Melody Moats, Co-President of the Highland Education Association, along with other members, spoke in favor of having a School Resource Officer in Highland Schools this year.  The schools had an SRO for part of last year, since the position was mostly paid for by a grant.  Grant funding at that level is not available now.  The county received some funding, but it was a large reduction from last year.  Moats said the SRO was a great asset last year that helped to build positive relationships.  The Highland Education Association strongly urged the Board of Supervisors to fully fund a full time SRO for this school year.  Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Harry Sponaugle replied that he thought the school was going to fund half of the position, since it was questionable if the state was going to provide funding.   He encouraged the Education Association members to talk to the School Board, to see if it will fund half the cost.

School Superintendent Dr. Drew Maerz spoke, saying an SRO is critical for safety.  He said state legislators are meeting this week and they may reinstate some funding.  He added that the school budget was in the Supervisors’ hands and the budget did not have the SRO position in it.

Sheriff Ronald Wimer added that the state legislature is considering getting rid of the composite index as it relates to SRO funding.  That change would not be in place for this year, but he encouraged writing to legislators in support of that for small jurisdictions where there is disparity in SRO funding.

During public comment, seven people spoke in favor of the county funding the SRO position.  Suggestions were made for where the county might find the money to pay for the SRO, such as using some of the money the School Board recently returned to the county, selling the used ambulance the county recently purchased and, also, using the money that would have been needed for expensive medical equipment required for that ambulance.

In other business, the Board voted to put out an Invitation for Bids for solid waste disposal.  The previous provider stopped hauling in June and the county did a three-month interim contract with Allegheny Disposal, which will expire the end of September.   Allegheny Disposal will continue through the end of the year, if the county can’t find another provider.  Allegheny Disposal will present its bid proposal in closed session at the Board’s September 20th work session.

The Board voted to authorize Zoning Administrator Josh Simmons to work with the Electoral Board to help to meet the state ADA requirements for election voting sites.  Virginia regulations offer curbside voting, and modifications need to be made.

Valley Community Services Board is seeking a location to hold additional counseling sessions. The Medical Center has no extra space.  There were suggestions to check on using the Modular Conference Center or, possibly, the jury room at the Courthouse.

The county needs more members on the Board of Zoning Appeals.  Currently, there are not enough members to make a quorum.  The only qualification is to be a Highland County resident.

And the Board appointed Malorie Brower to the Economic Development Authority for a four-year term.

To hear part one of this story from the Highland County Board of Supervisors meeting, go to our website www.alleghenymountainradio.org

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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