, 2014

Security upgrades
won’t come cheap

by Shannon Rice

HEATHSVILLE—With the budget season just getting into full swing and priorities being set, the safety of Northumberland residents came into focus at the February 14 board of supervisors meeting.

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First, superintendent of schools Dr. Rebecca Gates brought school security to the board’s attention. In the wake of school shootings across the country, each Northumberland public school has undergone a safety audit, she said. The result of these audits will be reflected in the proposed school budget which includes funds for additional security cameras.

“Twenty-nine additional cameras (at the high school and middle schools) actually, and the cost in the budget, just to give you a little idea of what’s coming, is $14,500,” said Gates.

She said new cameras will also be needed on 12 of the school buses. Currently, the bus cameras still use VHS tapes. The cost for each new camera is $2,000, she said.

Needs at the county sheriff’s office were also addressed Thursday night and the board voted to hire William Henry Harris and Associates to draft a renovation plan. Phase one, which entails determining a basic plan, will cost $10,000, said county administrator Kenny Eades.

Future costs will depend on which plan is selected from the first phase. The county is not obligated to move forward with phase 2 if the supervisors are not pleased with the initial plan.

District 4 supervisor Tommy Tomlin made the motion to approve the contract and it was seconded by District 3 supervisor Jim Long. The motion carried, 4-0. Chairman Ronnie Jett was not present.

Other safety concerns included the large number of missing road signs in the county. District 1 supervisor Joe Self said 13 signs have gone missing in his district alone. Luckily, they were recovered behind a cemetery.

Eades said investigation is under way regarding other missing signs.

To help remedy the issue, the board unanimously voted to appropriate $1,000 to Crime Solvers following a motion from Tomlin and a second by Long.

A Virginia Department of Transportation representative noted Westmoreland County is also missing signs.

Following a public hearing, Patrick Boone, Cheryl Karcic and Maurice Johnson were granted a permit to establish a tourist home at 150 East Harbour Drive near Sunnybank. The decision had been postponed twice in hopes the applicants could resolve concerns from the Bay Harbour Estates Property Owners Association, the primary opposition to the request.

Boone noted that he had tried to meet with the association’s board three to four times but could not get them to agree to a date.

Johnson said he has only received positive responses to the application. He said he and his co-applicants are not seeking special treatment but simply acknowledge the permitting process that exists.

“Our position is that we really wouldn’t want Northumberland County to modify and make special cases ‘onsey-twosey’ with any number of home owners associations that are trying to present opposition. We would rather see a uniform application of the codes that you’ve already put together quite wisely,” said Johnson.

Representing the Bay Harbour Estates Property Owners Association, Norman Hammer asked the board to deny the request because it would change the nature of the neighborhood.

Long made the motion to approve the request. It was seconded by Tomlin and passed, 4-0.

The second carry-over item of the evening, a request by Phyllis D. Swift for an extension of a special exceptions permit to operate a commercial kennel at 38 Blundon’s Road near Burgess, was postponed again.

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