Three of Bath Supervisors facing recall

Some very dissatisfied Bath County voters have been asking their Supervisors to resign since the middle of September. With only one of the supervisors having done so, Matt Ratcliffe of the Warm Springs district, the petitioners filed on Wednesday for three of the remaining supervisors to be removed from office.

The grounds for the removal of Richard Byrd, Valley Springs District, Stuart Hall, Williamsville District, and Claire Collins, Cedar Creek

District are:

“due to neglect, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties that has had a material effect upon the conduct of the office, as described in Virginia Code.”

The petitions included a list of the following acts used to determine those effects on the office and these items are drawn directly from the petition on file in the courthouse.

First, on September 13th, 2016 said supervisor discussed budgetary matters and the structure of Bath County Government in closed session in violation of the Code of Virginia. In reading over that code, 2.2-3711, which states closed meetings are authorized for certain limited purposes, this reporter noted thirty-nine situations in which closed meetings are allowed.   Secondly, the September 13th closed session resulted in said supervisors voting for the elimination of the position of Director of Tourism, and defunding the Bath County Chamber of Commerce, a local tourism industry organization. A third board action from that night was also noted in the grounds for removal. The Board Chair, Claire Collins had asked for some clarification about what had been discussed,

“a realignment of personnel, a change to the personnel compliment,”

in closed session just before the public vote. Richard Byrd’s response was

“That is precisely correct. This action is not about, who, what, how or when”,

Petitioners further asserted the four supervisors who voted in favor of the actions from closed session conducted themselves in such a manner as to govern Bath County “chaotically, unpredictably, secretly, and wastefully.

One more cause for the recall is that the October 11th Board of Supervisors meeting was conducted in an intimidating and highly charged atmosphere because of heavy law enforcement presence.

The petitions concluded by referring again to neglect of duty, misuse of office, and incompetence of official duties, on the part of those three supervisors. In the Williamsville District there were 35 signers, in Cedar Creek, 43, and in Valley Springs, there were 49.

The next step in the process is for the County Registrar to complete an order from Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. First the registrar will determine the number of votes from those districts in the November 2015 election. Then the registrar will establish the validity of all the signatures, and whether or not they add up to ten percent or greater of voters in each of those districts. After those determinations have been made, the judge will consider the request for recall in greater detail, and both the petitioners and the respondents will learn more about what the future looks like for Bath County politics.


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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