Millboro Tourism meeting Part Two

“Like many of you that have been here all your life, you love the place; people that have come here love the place, well, I fell in love with it, and I was blessed to be able to find a way to stay here.”

Jon Trees of Mountain Grove was speaking with the group of around one-hundred- fifty Bath residents who gathered in Millboro Monday evening. They were discussing the Board of Supervisors’ decision to radically alter the tourism program in the county. One of the first decisions by the group was to provide facts to the public about revenue generated by Tourism because there seemed to be so much misinformation circulating. Some of those facts are as follows: Since 2009, when Maggie Anderson was hired as Tourism Director, revenue increased fifty-six million nine hundred seventy five thousand and thirty seven dollars. This led to an increase in payrolls throughout the county of five million six hundred eighty seven thousand and twelve dollars. Of localities all across the state, Bath County is now the 17th largest tourism economy. Lodging taxes and tourism revenue completely cover the cost of the salary of Tourism Director and Coordinator costing Bath County taxpayers nothing.

Voters are struggling to understand how their leaders could have made such a decision. Jay Ford, of Bath County Collision, is one of many local business owners, who know how connected tourism is to every piece of the economy. He helped organize the meeting because he’d had, as he said, “Enough!”

Questions of the legality of what the board did may take a while to resolve. Michael Collins, the County attorney resigned “due to deteriorating relations with the Board.” Until what the board did in closed session can be addressed specifically, Bath residents are taking several actions.

Jon Trees, who served on the Board of Supervisors himself several years ago is certain things will not improve until current members Richard Bird, Claire Collins, Stuart Hall and Matt Ratcliff step down. He read from a rough draft of a petition available to registered voters soon.

“We as Citizens of Bath County Virginia do hereby respectfully request the immediate resignation of the members named above to be followed by a new election of the members of Board of Supervisors for the above named districts as soon as it may be scheduled following all appropriate procedures of local, state and federal code”.

Those present agreed with a show of hands to work together to reach other community members once the petition is finalized. Jon Trees continued,

“I will be happy to coordinate these efforts and I’ll be very pleased to present those at the next Board of Supervisors meeting, but I will need volunteers from each district, each of the four districts, excluding Millboro, to help me circulate these petitions.”

Towards the end of the meeting, Christy Hardbarger of Milboro highlighted the role voters play, even in decisions with which they disagree. Christy Harbarger,

“It’s incumbent upon us. You know we need to step up; we need to run; we need to show up at the polls. These people get elected. Somebody’s putting them there. You know and I think sometimes because we don’t come and vote them out, we don’t put the right people in. I just want to say, I’m including myself in that, we have to have a plan.”

Contact information for current supervisors is available with this story under the news tab on Allegheny Mountain

Contact information for current Bath County Supervisors:

Claire A. Collins, 540-839-3370,  8932 Sam Snead Hwy., Hot Springs, VA 24445   (Cedar Creek Mag. District)

Richard B. Byrd, 540-839-2348,  P.O. Box 381, Hot Springs VA 24445 (Valley Springs Mag. District)

Stuart L. Hall (c) 540-679-9631 or (h) 540-396-3581  1167 Dry Run Road, Millboro, VA 24460 (Williamsville Mag. District)

Matthew S. Ratcliffe (c)540-679-0385 (h)540-839-5695  1099 Robinson Lane, Warm Springs, VA 24484  (Warm Springs Mag. District)

Edward T. Hicklin (540)-997-0563  33487 Mountain Valley Road, Millboro, VA 24460

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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