Highland County Delegate Dickie Bell Talks With Highland Supervisors About County Challenges

Monterey , VA – Highland county’s representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, Mr. Dickie Bell paid a visit to the Highland Board of Supervisors meeting this week. The supervisors took advantage of the opportunity to ask his opinion on several agenda items during the meeting.

Supervisor Robin Sullenberger brought up the county’s plan to meet with state department of education staff to see what options are available with regard to long term funding and stability of the Highland county school system. He asked Delegate Bell to comment.

“I think that’s the best way to approach this, is to talk to the Dept of Education staff” says Bell. “How do we resolve it for right now and for the long term.”

Bell says the Dept of Education staff needs to understand just how unique Highland County schools are.

Another major issue in the county is the closing of the Williamsville Gorge to swimming and other recreational activities. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has claimed that its regulations require a focus on fishing in the Gorge and that it has no choice but to end swimming and most camping there because of liability issues and the fact that it cannot afford to provide rest rooms and other needed facilities.

Rexrode says the Supervisors need to work with the Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries to find ways to open the gorge back up to other activities.

“It’s a beautiful place, a lot of families go there on weekends, a lot of families go into there to swim” says Rexrode.

Delegate Bell agrees, calling it a asset for the County that Highland should have more control over. He goes on to discuss a big problem facing rural areas.

“Rural counties are going to have to stand up and be counted and the representation of people like myself that you have in Richmond has to stand with you” says Bell. “Unless you speak up, small rural counties and towns , I hate to say it, but we’re overlooked.”

Supervisor is working on an Appalachian Regional Commission grant to help fund improving insulation and weatherproofing in the school building and courthouse.

He’d like a resolution from the Board of Supervisors supporting an application to the ARC for $100,000 grant for the work.

Also on the agenda was a request by the Staunton City Council to join them in adopting a resolution in regard to protection of citizens from predatory lending practices. Bell says the General Assembly addressed this problem in their most recent session. However, he says he has doubts about whether legislation banning these lenders will pass in the near future. Following Delegate Bell’s comments, the board voted to adopt the resolution.

Other Matters Covered By The Board

The board approved advertising the sale of a surplus Ford truck used at the land fill and the donation of a vehicle no longer in use by the Sheriff’s office to the Highland County rescue squad. They also approved a motion to set dates for work sessions on the Emergency Operations Plan and the county Comprehensive Plan.

Finally, the Board approved a resolution to proceed with a study of a lodging tax as requested by the county Economic Development Authority. The board then went into closed session to discuss possible legal action against the county with regard to the Highland New Wind project.

The next regular meeting of the Highland county board of supervisors is scheduled for Tuesday, August 3rd.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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