Tag Archives: emergency services

Greene County Government and Citizens Work Together on E911 Resolution

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At the February 13th Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting it was agreed that a group of stakeholders would meet to try to find a solution of how best to manage their E911 system  . On Thursday, February 22nd a meeting including Board of Supervisor Chairperson Michelle Flynn, Supervisor David Cox (liaison to the emergency management system), Sheriff Steve Smith, and representatives from the Fire Departments and Rescue Squads was held and the following agreement was reached:

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This agreement puts in place a solution to an issue that goes back to 2016 related to the management of the E911. The good news is that the Board of Supervisors acted swiftly after their February 13th meeting in which over 20 citizens called for action and they got the stakeholders together and met on February 22nd . The concern is why it took so long for the leaders of Greene County – Supervisors and Sheriff – to meet face to face and reach a compromise solution?

clip_image003The major change that the memo states is that “the E911 Center will be placed under the direction of the Sheriff” and he has been give the budget for E911. The agreement is in place through June 30, 2018 – the end of the current budget cycle.

During the public comment portion of the February 27th meeting citizens were pleased with the action of the Supervisors but expressed concern about trusting the Supervisors.

The silver lining is that citizens were motivated to participate in the process and the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff responded and worked out a compromise in a timely fashion. This is something that they were unable to do by themselves.

At the end of the meeting, Flynn asked Smith if he had begun advertising for the three vacant positions within the E911 system. Smith assured that advertisements are out and the positions will be filled (see the Facebook post below).

Steven Smith shared Greene County, Va. Sheriff’s Office‘s post.

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Greene County, Va. Sheriff’s Office

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Greene County Sheriff’s Office
Full-Time & Part Time Communications Officers

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is currently accepting applications for full-time & part time communications officers. Salary: $32,675 – $33,655. Seeking professional, highly responsible, technical individuals. Minimum Qualifications: Excellent listening & written communications skills; ability to speak distinctly on the telephone/radio & accurately relay information into a computer; ability to type with speed/accuracy; ability to multi-task under pressure; 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma/GED. Final candidates must pass a thorough background investigation. Preferred Qualification: 2 years emergency dispatch experience. Candidates may pick up an application at the Sheriff’s Office or at http://www.greenecountysheriffva.com/about-us/join-our-team/ EEO

Emergency Services Director, Melissa G. Meador will remain at the County Administration Building and will coordinate E911, Fire and Rescue calls. E911 calls will be handled out of the existing system at the Sheriff’s Office. This will be far less expensive than recreating an E911 facility in the County Administration Building.

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At the end of the day it is hoped that the E911 system gets fully staffed as soon as possible so that the citizens of Greene County can be protected in a timely manner.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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With Dedicated Cash in the Bank, Fluvanna Chooses to Lease New Radio System

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

It happened quickly. It was over $6 million dollars spent without a debate. All five supervisors agreed, as did dozens of emergency service volunteers in attendance.

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a trunking radio system to replaced the aged, failing current system.

It is said 80 percent of Fluvanna is currently covered by radio coverage. Multiple anonymous emergency service personnel say that 20 percent of the county without coverage seems to be a popular place to be.

The new radio system will eliminate those various black holes. New towers will be built with emergency services on the top. All will be under 199 feet with the county only owning one, to be constructed next to the Sheriff’s Office.

The intriguing part of this, Fluvanna has set aside $6.9 million in county savings for the radio project in FY12. It has been sitting there for a few years now, closely protected to pay for the project in cash.

The supervisors approved lease to purchase, thus financing the project. The interest rate will be 2.65 percent with a first payment coming due in July 2017. The term will be for seven years, with two years of payments deferred. Payments will be just over $1 million per year.

So what will happen with the cash set aside?

It stays in county savings but now the project is accounted for. There is no penalty for paying off the lease early so supervisors could vote whenever to pay off the debt early.

While this is more debt, supervisors also noted this is in the best interest of the county and does not violate the debt clause of the Virginia constitution.

“It does not violate the debt policy, by our opinion,” said Fred Payne, county attorney.

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Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District)

Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) said before the vote he was in favor of the leasing because the county has a few things lined up this year, alluding to water. He also said it could just sit there but feared future boards will use it for operations as a way to lower the tax rate, which violates supervisor policy.

James River Water Authority will have bills come due because of shared construction costs. A Zion Crossroads water system will also have construction costs, if given the final go ahead. A report earlier this year put a Zion Crossroads system at $8 million.

The supervisors did spend more money to install a trunking radio system instead of a conventional radio system. This allows Fluvanna to host other counties in the future. Neighboring localities can buy into the system to have their system using the same basic infrastructure as Fluvanna, just expanding the network. It is more cost effective for the communities involved.

That could lower Fluvanna’s total cost of the radio infrastructure.

Also at the June 17 meeting, supervisors approved an auction house to be built in Fork Union. The location is on Route 15, further south than the town. The auction house will share a parking lot with a church.

“I think it is fantastic to see another business open in the county,” said Ullenbruch. “I won’t have to drive so far to buy my things.”

The next supervisors’ meeting is July 1 at 4 p.m.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Louisa County Fire Chief Resigns

By. John Haksch, Field Officer

The Louisa County Fire Chief Scott Keim resigned Monday evening (2/20).  His resignation is effective as of the end of the month.    Keim was hired as Chief of the Louisa County combined volunteer and professional Fire and Rescue services in July of 2010, when Robert Dubé was promoted from the post to that of County Manager. The earthquake of August 2010 occurred on his watch and his tireless efforts to ensure citizen safety and to provide the county and FEMA with comprehensive damage assessments garnered him praise from every agency involved.

Mr. Keim cited personal reasons – wanting to spend more time with his family – for relinquishing his post and returning to his former position as a Fire Captain in Albemarle County.

Mr. Dubé stated that Assistant Chief Kenneth Greene will assume the duties of Chief until a replacement for Mr. Keim can be found. This process could take weeks or months, depending on the number and qualifications of the applicants for the position.

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John Haksch is the Louisa County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support our work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Predicted Sharp Decrease in Property Values Could Reduce Greene Tax Revenue

By Pauline Hovey, Field Officer

At the request of Greene County Board of Supervisors Chairman Buggs Peyton (Standardsville), various county offices, Treasurer and Commissioner of Revenue, provided public presentations of their various department functions and financial updates at last Tuesday night’s board meeting. While the Board has requested written reports from these offices, this marked the first time a chairman had requested such a presentation, most likely to familiarize the three new board members with county procedures.

Greene County Commissioner of the Revenue Larry SnowCommissioner of Revenue Larry Snow (photo left) offered the most noteworthy news of the evening when he suggested that this year’s property reassessment, which will be completed this fall and go into effect January 1, 2013, will create “a sharp reduction” in property values, maybe as much as 15 percent. “Assessors are saying our property values are high,” Snow reported, warning the board that if his prediction is correct, “we will probably lose $1.5 million in revenue.” That’s not good news for the county, which is already anticipating a more than $2 million shortfall in state and federal funding for education.

In order to “streamline the process” for potential businesses desiring to locate in Greene, Supervisor Jim Frydl suggested the commissioner’s office have a work session with Economic Development Authority Director Tony Williams, County Planning Director Bart Svoboda, and others involved. Frydl would like to see brochures or other types of written materials available to better assist those interested in coming to Greene.

Treasurer Stephanie Deal, who was elected one year ago facing the challenge of dealing with unreconciled accounts, offered a most impressive report of her ability to turn that office around. Greene County has an impressive collection rate of 92 percent overall: a 94 percent collection rate in real estate, 81 percent for personal property, and 98 percent for public service corporations. “This speaks very highly of our citizens and their desire to pay their taxes,” Deal said. But Supervisor Frydl gave Deal much credit, noting the county’s collection rate is better than the state average and “speaks to your office as well.”   Deal was reelected to a four year term in November of 2010.

Among Deal’s goals for the county are establishing an online tax payment system, getting payment arrangements in place for those residents who need help paying real estate taxes, and establishing a new banking relationship as Bank of America will soon close its Stanardsville location. Since the treasurer’s office conducts all its automatic deposits and other banking at this location, Deal expects the closing will “dramatically affect” her office.

Public Safety Director Dave Lawrence ended his detailed presentation on the county’s Emergency Operations Plan with a request to pursue the possibility of a grant to establish an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Apparently, Greene currently does not have such a center. “It would give the county an extremely secure, centralized location to go to in an emergency,” Lawrence said, urging the board to approve his request to move forward in determining whether the county would be eligible for a grant to establish an EOC. Supervisors unanimously approved his request.

With some discussion, supervisors also agreed to grant the sheriff’s office approval to apply for a $25,000 grant from the Department of Criminal Justice to start up a program on combating Internet crimes against children. Although this is a one-time grant and Supervisor Frydl was concerned about where the money would come from to continue the program, Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith suggested once the program is started, his department can seek federal and state funding in the future.

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Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Fluvanna Supervisors Enhance Rescue Service

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

At its December 7th meeting, Fluvanna County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to contract with the University of Virginia to provide enhanced medical recue service to the county. The additional unit would provide an advanced life support crew (including a medic) and greater response capability to a system currently under great stress. The crew would supplement the Lake Monticello Fire and Rescue department, which currently provides countywide service during the weekdays.

This is the first introduction of paid service to the county and the six-month contract (for $150,000) will be reassessed at its conclusion to determine its utility. The idea of paid service has provoked opposition from the community, as has the proposal to institute cost recovery. Supervisors have gone to lengths to assure residents that no one will be turned away, nor billed if they cannot afford payment.

The Fluvanna County Fire and Rescue department, the Lake’s counterpart, has been unable to reach full strength through volunteers and in many cases throughout the county as a whole, the volunteer staff has been aging. The county’s rescue leadership unanimously endorsed the proposal, although opposition remains within its ranks.

Supervisor Shawn Kenney (Columbia) briefed his colleagues on the progress of the Governor’s Task Force on Mandates to localities. Mr. Kenney, a member of the Task Force, stated that there are over 600 mandates imposed upon localities and they have identified some 70 that could be eliminated.

Kenney also noted that if secondary road maintenance were to devolve to localities, the cost to Fluvanna would be some $3 million per year – the equivalent of an additional $.10 to the county real estate tax rate – currently at $.57 per $100 of assessed value.

Supervisors also declined to accept an offer to place 94.6 acres into a conservation easement. According to staff the county would have been unable to administer the easement and would have acted as a “placeholder” until the property could be transferred to the VA Department of Forestry. That agency is not prepared to consider the transfer until 2012.

The supervisors will hold their final meeting of the year on December 21st.

Fluvanna Adopts a Telecommunications Ordinance, Discusses Zion’s Water

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

Fluvanna County’s Board of Supervisors adopted a telecommunications ordinance at its September 21st meeting, perhaps ending years of muddled thinking, confusion, and ongoing charges of “not in my back yard”. The Board approved the ordinance by a 5-1 vote, with supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) voting against.

cell phone one barAccording to some estimates, fully half of the county’s land area has no cell phone capability, emergency communications, or broadband usage – or a combination of those services. Recently county officials commissioned a study to determine where telecommunication towers should be placed, and in a related action, supervisors agreed to be guided by that study.

The new ordinance explicitly states in what zoning districts particular towers may be placed, but more importantly from a vendor perspective, many of the placements will be by right, and not require a special use permit.

The by right condition should diminish substantially the pressure on the supervisors to reject particular tower placements in response to citizen opposition. Such opposition derailed one site approval a few years ago in one of the most under served areas in the county.

Special use permits still will be required for particular types of towers in certain zoning districts, but overall, the ordinance provides enhanced flexibility for vendors to provide service in twater supplyhe county.

In another development, supervisor Joe Chesser (Rivanna) reported that discussions with Aqua Virginia continue regarding bring water to the Zion Crossroads area of the county. A couple of options are under consideration but Aqua Virginia wants assurances that the service will be profitable within three years. That would require significant more economic activity in the area unless some water sales agreement could be reached with Louisa County.

Mr. Chesser also stated that Aqua Virginia is considering purchasing the Fork Union Sanitary District assets and accounts from the county for one million dollars. Aging infrastructure and declining well production will require substantial capital improvements over the coming years.

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William Des Rochers serves as Free Enterprise Forum’s Fluvanna County Field Officer.  The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded public policy organization covering Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson county as well as the City of Charlottesville.  If you find this update helpful, please consider financially supporting these efforts.