South Boston Town Council amended its budget by $135,000 when members met Monday evening in council chambers on Yancey Street.

Mayor Ed Owens called it an “in and out transaction,” with council choosing to follow a recommendation from auditors Harris, Harvey, Neal and Company to reflect revenue from monies received from police, security, various fire department grants and reimbursements from accidents as revenue line items, rather than a reimbursement to the department’s expenditure line item.

New revenue line items for reimbursement reflect totals of $135,000, including $100,000 for police department reimbursement; $16,000 for fire department reimbursement; $15,000 for public works reimbursement; and $4,000 for a Virginia Municipal League safety grant.

Expenditures total $135,000, including $93,000 for police department overtime; $7,000 for police department FICA; $4,000 for fire department first responder supplies; $9,000 for fire department equipment replacement; $3,000 for fire department gas and oil; $15,000 for street department materials and supplies; and $4,000 for a Virginia Municipal League safety grant.

“It doesn’t change much, but it reflects better,” said Tom Raab, town manager, with council member Sharon Harris saying it adds more transparency.

Acting on a motion from council member Bill Snead that was seconded by Harris, council unanimously approved the amendment.

Council also heard an update from Matthew McCargo, director of the recreation department, about activities at the recreation center as well as Washington-Coleman Community Center.

But before starting the update, McCargo took a moment to recognize someone the department recently lost, Frances Jean Mitchell.

She passed away on Oct. 27, and McCargo said she had worked with the department for 31 years.

Mitchell participated in the senior exercise group, taught archery camp and took money at the door for recreation basketball games.

“There’s going to be a great void we will never be able to fill. She was our mother. She will be truly missed,” said McCargo while holding a photo of her.

He then gave attendance figures for both Washington-Coleman Community Center and South Boston Recreation Department’s senior exercise group.

Attendance at Washington-Coleman Community Center was 22,339 visits in 2016, 23,331 visits in 2017, 23,679 visits in 2018 and 20,121 visits so far in 2019 with November and December still to go.

Attendance at South Boston Recreation Department’s senior exercise group was 5,941 in 2017, 6,053 visits in 2018 and 5,035 visits so far in 2019 with November and December still to go. McCargo also noted this does not include open gym, gym rentals or any other extracurricular activities.

When people come into the community center, the director said the first thing they compliment is “how nice and clean the building looks” and how it still looks brand new, even though it’s seven years old.

He credited custodian “Mrs. Ruby” and all the employees at the center for doing an “excellent job keeping the place beautiful.”

Moving on to the programs offered at the center, McCargo said there’s line dancing, fit and functional on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, advanced fit and functional in the evenings and a walking class.

He said line-dancing averages about 35 attendees, and fit and functional is maxed at 25 attendees with it being full every day.

The director said the advanced fit and functional is not as popular, and the walking class’ attendance just depends on the day.

The recreational center is used by 537 basketball players, according to McCargo.

He said there are 53 children in the 13 and 14 year old league, 63 players on the midget league for 11 and 12 year olds, 103 players in the pee wee league for 8, 9 and 10 year olds and 78 players in the mites league for 5, 6 and 7 year olds.

The industrial league is in its third week of play with 13 teams, 11 industrial and two 30 and over.

He noted that seven leagues operate out of that gym, and that participation was down.

“Kid’s are not signing up. This league is continuing to deteriorate. The problem? We don’t know,” said McCargo.

Even still, he said resources are used to “the max.

“We’re happy to have them. We’re not complaining about the shortage, we’re just happy to have a place. So many players come in and try to get into the league, because they don’t have a league around us,” said McCargo.

Councilman Bob Hughes told McCargo, “Matthew, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what all you do over there. You’ll never know the impact you have on the youth of this community, and I tell you they have a fine example in you.”

Brian Brown, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, also took time to introduce himself to council Monday evening.

As someone who’s been in economic development for about 20 years in Roanoke and Buena Vista, Brown said Halifax County has all the pieces in place already.

“When I started looking at Halifax County, as well as the town of South Boston and town of Halifax, it really hit me all the pieces have been put together, the great vision that has been around for a long period of time in these organizations,” said Brown. “It’s a gift that you’ve gotten here that’s really poised for future economic development.”

He boasted about the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, the town’s housing options and business diversity.

“I’m looking forward to being a partner with you,” said the executive director.

Owens told Brown, “Thank you for coming, and we look forward to working with you. I encourage people to grow in place. Put your roots down and grow.”

“I think you’ve already put things in place to do that,” Brown concluded.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at