Highland Supervisors Oppose Judicial Redistricting
Monterey, VA – At its meeting on Tuesday evening this week, the Highland County Board of Supervisors heard a request from County Attorney Melissa Dowd regarding an important matter that could significantly affect the county’s judicial process.
“There is a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House [of Delegates] to redistrict the judicial districts in Virginia” says Dowd. “The judges in Highland County are opposed to this; the sponsors of the bill think that this going to somehow solve the problem where the legislature has not filled and seated judges and the work load is crazy in a number of the districts.”
These bills would put Highland and Bath Counties in different districts. Highland would be placed with Augusta County and other counties extending as far north as Winchester. It is very likely that this change will cause lengthy delays in Highland County trials because judges will be pressed to give higher priority to areas with larger populations and higher case loads. Ms. Dowd asked the Board to contact local legislators and express opposition to this bill.
In other business, the Highland Board of Supervisors heard a request from the Highland Craft Shop for exemption from property taxes. County Administrator Roberta Lambert read a letter from Craft Shop president Jim Jacenich.
“Non-profit agencies that meet certain requirements may ask for tax exempt status” says Lambert. “It requires the Board of Supervisors to hold a public hearing prior to approval of an ordinance. They are requesting that the Board set a pubic hearing for consideration of the tax exempt status.”
Craft Shop treasurer Deborah Lambert provided the Board with some additional information.
“Unfortunately there’s been a huge downturn in the last ten years” says Deborah Lambert. “The last three years have just been terrible; this last Maple Festival was just abysmal for us. We’re at the point now that we have no paid staff, we’re all volunteer and we’re doing all we can to keep it open.”
Several nonprofit organizations in the county have requested and received tax exempt status over the years. The Supervisors passed a motion to hold a public hearing on this matter at their next meeting on March first.
Supervisor Rexrode asked the Board to consider adopting restrictions on deer hunting in the county in an effort to improve the quality and size of bucks. By preventing hunters from killing younger bucks, it is possible that the number of larger bucks in the county would increase thereby attracting more hunters. Supervisor Sullenberger noted that the number of hunting licenses purchased has been dropping significantly over the past several years.
The county administrator will contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to find out how best to proceed on this matter. The plan is to present a proposal for public comment at a future meeting before adopting any new county-wide hunting regulations.