Presentations Given Ahead of Yearly Budget Requests at February Highland County Board of Supervisors Work Session

The February 21 Highland County Board of Supervisors work session started with two presentations from community organizations.


Representatives from the Highland County EDA introduced the new Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) fellow Landdis Hollifield and gave key strategies for the Highland Community Development Initiative (HCDI) strategic plan, which was a three year program with input from four community organizations.


Highland County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Swecker presented the six tenets of the plan which include a revitalized Highland Inn, support for the Highland small business community, the employment of tourism as an engaging experience that leads visitors to become residents, the creation of dynamic community events, coordinated marketing and messaging, and broad and shared civic leadership. Hollifield’s three-year assignment to Highland County is seen as a capacity building advantage to help coordinate these efforts. 


Highland County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Drew Maerz then gave a presentation on the Standards of Quality and how the Highland school system dervies funding from the commonwealth of Virginia. As the smallest division in the commonwealth, Highland faces unique challenges, many of which trickle down from the local composite index, which is seen by the state as our local ability to pay for education within the community. 


Board comments followed both presentations with chair Henry Budzinski asking if the EDA had approached the Monterey Inn for lodging assistance to more expeditiously meet the first tenet of the HCDI strategic plan and Harry Sponaugle praising Dr. Maerz for explaining the Standards of Quality in a way that could best be understood.


The majority of the meeting covered old business and warrants, with several items being tabled due to County Attorney Melissa Dowd’s absence at the work session. 


At the March 5 regular meeting, budgets will be presented from the department of social services, Highland County High School, emergency medical services, and the Highland County Library. Chair Budzinski asked for budget breakdowns prior to the meeting from several other community organizations including VPAS, The Highland Center, and The Highland County Chamber of Commerce.


There was only one comment during open public comment, with resident Jaden Cox asking a question of Dr. Maerz regarding consequences for the county not providing the funding that the state dictates.


The meeting then went into closed session to discuss personnel matters. After the closed session, the Board reconvened in open session and voted to appoint Jerri Botkin as Acting County Administrator. There was also a vote for Supervisor Paul Trible to sit in on interviews for the part time position that is being advertised for the county administrator’s office.

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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