by Madison White Franks
HEATHSVILLE—The Callao revitalization initiative is off to a good start in Northumberland County.
“The public is 100% interested,” said District 4 supervisor Tommy Tomlin, referring to some 15 members of the public attending a related hearing during the January 12 board of supervisors meeting.
“There is interest in this project with business owners,” said Alex Eguiguren of the Northern Neck District Planning Commission (NNDPC).
The hearing was held to receive public input regarding community development and housing needs in relation to proposed Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The public hearing was a requirement of the grant application process.
The CDBG program provides funding to redevelop structures in support of attracting new industry or expansion of an existing industry.
Eguiguren indicated the General Assembly allocates $8.8 million for projects in this category for the entire state and the grant program is very competitive.
“I think the improvements and the potential in the Callao area will allow tourists to stop as they are on their way in,” said Dee David of Dee David & Company.
It was also noted the revitalization project would help economic development countywide.
Two related public meetings have been held, reported economic development commission executive director Theresa Lambert. The first had 140 participants and the second meeting had 45.
“In the first meeting, all but two people said they supported the project,” said Lambert.
No action was required at the end of the public hearing.
Sam Walker, Virginia Dominion Power regional manager of operations in the Northern Neck, informed the board of a strategic undergrounding project.
“It is to replace troublesome overhead lines and put them underground,” said Walker. “Northumberland and the Northern Neck is getting a fair share of these projects because of being a rural area and having areas that go out of power a lot.”
The second project is a reconditioning of circuits to bring power back more quickly when it is lost. The major circuit will be going underwater at the Great Wicomico River through distribution lines. The project will be completed by 2018.
“The Great Wicomico project involves the replacement of a 34.5 KV distribution line, whereas the Norris Bridge project would be replacing a 115 KV transmission line, a much higher voltage. The Great Wicomico line is only 1,500 feet in length and the Norris Bridge line is 2 miles long,” said Daisy Pridgen with Dominion Media Relations.
“Placing the 1,500-foot wire underwater is the most cost effective and efficient way to improve the performance of the equipment so we can continue to provide reliable service to our customers in Northumberland,” she said.
Virginia Department of Transportation Lottsburg AHQ superintendent Todd Vanlandingham and residency administrator Steve McKeever informed the board that they used 350 tons of salt throughout Northumberland County during the recent snow storm.
Vanlandingham also indicated they are building a new salt house in Lottsburg to hold 2,000 tons of materials.
“We did not have a single injury to any of our employees, contract employees, or motorists while we were engaged in the snow. They did their job and they did it in a safe fashion,” said McKeever.
School superintendent Holly Wargo informed the board that all banked days for the school year have been used due to the recent snow. She also informed the board of a budget update.
“We will be efficient and fiscally responsible as we move forward,” said Wargo, “$258,000 will be going back to the county based on the auditor’s report.”
“In reality we should be in monthly meetings with the county treasurer reconciling where we are and making sure that our numbers agree with the treasurer’s. That is an action item that we are working on,” said Wargo.
The board re-elected Ronnie Jett as chairman and Richard Haynie as vice chairman for 2017. The members also voted to continue meeting on the second Thursday of every month.