by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
WHITE STONE—Ran Reeves, the son of mayor Randy Reeves, will fill the vacant seat on White Stone Town Council.
By a 3-0 vote, council last Thursday appointed Reeves to temporarily fill the seat left vacant when Joe Sliakis died on January 28. According to town attorney Matson Terry, council will have to petition the court to hold a special election to permanently fill the seat. Sliakis was re-elected to a four-year term in May 2014. His term expires May 2018.
According to town manager Patrick Frere, Reeves’ letter of intent to serve on the council was the only one received by the March 2 deadline.
Mayor Reeves said one other person had expressed interest but then removed her name from the list because of family illness.
Councilman Paul Elbourn made the motion to appoint Reeves. Blair Kenyon seconded the motion. Voting in favor were Elbourn, Kenyon and William Hubbard. Absent were Drew Hubbard, Kelli Blankenship and Irving Brittingham. Mayor Reeves said one council member was out of town on business, while the other two were sick.
Ran Reeves, 31, lives at 142 Sawmill Road in White Stone.
In other business, Frere reported phase one of the town’s revitalization project is moving forward with construction bids for the first three houses likely accepted by the town’s housing rehab board this week.
“The housing rehab part of this project is well under way,” said Frere. But it’s crucial, he added, that the town “stick to a timeline to ensure funding, especially at the federal level.”
The housing rehab board was scheduled to meet this week to review the construction bids for the first three houses set for rehabilitation. If approved as anticipated, construction should begin by the end of March or beginning of April, said Frere.
Plans for the town’s sewer project are also 90% complete, said Frere. Council planned to hold a special meeting March 8 to discuss land acquisition related to phase one of the project. The town would locate the septic treatment plant on the site.
Both Frere and mayor Reeves stressed to council the strict need to stick to the timeline set by the state and federal government relating to the town’s loans and grants.
Our “funding has already been approved,” said Frere. But if a deadline is not met and the town has to resubmit an application, he said, “the money might not be there.”
According to Frere, federal budget proposals for Environmental Protection Agency funding could be cut 20% and funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration projects may be chopped from $73 million annually to a mere $5 million.
So funding is just not available, Frere cautioned.
“Our money has already been appropriated,” said mayor Reeves. “But if we do something to throw this off until next year, we may be in jeopardy. We need to stay on this timeline.”
Frere added the town is plowing ahead with the applications for the second phase of the revitalization.
“But I can’t promise we’re going to get the money we did the first time,” he said.
Following a public hearing related to the business revitalization project, council voted unanimously, 3-0, to accept a resolution to submit a Virginia Community Development Block Grant proposal. The town plans to apply for $769,000 in funding for a commercial revitalization and revolving loan fund project. The project will have a total budget of $1,309,000 with building facade improvements, landscaping and sidewalk upgrades, new lighting and signage, removal of blight structures and marketing programs.
Kenyon made the motion to pass the resolution. Elbourn seconded the motion.
Town tags to go on sale
White Stone will sell its town vehicle and motorcycle tags Monday, March 20, through Friday, March 24, and Monday, March 27, through Friday, March 31, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Town Hall, 433 Rappahannock Drive, White Stone.
Car and truck tags are $25 each and motorcycle tags are $20, according to town manager Patrick Frere.
Residents of White Stone are required to purchase tags.