Two organizations’ representatives, the Halifax-South Boston Branch of the NAACP and the One Community initiative, plan to approach Halifax County Board of Supervisors when they meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Mary Bethune Complex to offer a suggestion in their efforts to be more inclusive.
They would like supervisors to consider erecting a Henrietta Lacks statue on the courthouse lawn.
Lacks, an African-American Roanoke native who lived in Clover before her cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line, died of cervical cancer in 1951.
Members of the Halifax-South Boston Branch of the NAACP and the One Community initiative, as well as others in the community, have been meeting since May to discuss this project.
By erecting the statue, they hope to honor the positive impact that Lacks’ “he la” cells have made for the county, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the world.
In their initiative’s paperwork, it states they chose Lacks because “her cells have been used to help the world through scientific research that has improved medical care around the world since the development of the polio vaccine up to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Their desire is to have a life-size statue of Lacks erected by 2023 using the involvement of the entire county, government and others in their efforts to fund this project.
What type of statues and monuments belong on the courthouse lawn has been a contentious conversation over the past year or more.
In the November 2020 election, a total of 10,571 voted no in response to a referendum on the ballot that read, “Shall Halifax County relocate the Confederate monument from the County courthouse grounds?” while 6,942 voted yes.
At their August meeting, supervisors unanimously made the decision to gain public opinion from voters on Election Day about whether or not to relocate the monument. But the decision made by the voters is not final; the supervisors noted the outcome of the referendum is solely an advisory decision, and county supervisors may still vote either way for removing the memorial or leaving it in its current location.
But, supervisors have made no further discussions on the monument in a public meeting.
The decision to put the statue on the ballot came after months of discussions with citizens, many who wanted the statue removed and many who did not.
On Monday, Barbara Coleman-Brown with the NAACP and Hope Harris Gayles with the One Community initiative, are slated to approach the board about the Lacks’ initiative.
Both Brown and Gayles were very vocal about their disapproval of having the confederate statue on the courthouse lawn.
Also Monday evening, supervisors are set to consider two conditional use permits, one for a 4.15-megawatt solar project to be located on Philpott Road, and another for Thomas “Andy” Hughes to operate Liberty ATV Trails on Chisolm Trail.
Supervisors will not hold an additional public hearing for these conditional use permits. Public hearings for both permits were held at a joint public hearing with supervisors and the Halifax County Planning Commission.
The planning commission has recommended supervisors approve the permit for the solar facility.
Halifax CGS, LLC has applied for a conditional use permit to operate a 3.13MW solar facility on Highway 58 on the east side of R. O. Harrell Trucking on land currently owned by Thomason Investments, LLC.
Zoning administrator Detrick Easley explained there is a total of 42 acres in the two parcels with only 21 acres of the back portion of the land planned for use by the solar facility.
The applicant plans to dedicate the front of the 9.68 acres as “real property to Halifax County” for future development, and would also mean that the solar facility would be visible from the road, according to Easley.
Dimension Renewable Energy project development manager Kieran Siao’s told the planning commission at a previous meeting that they did hold a public interest meeting and no one attended. He said no one, including anyone from R. O. Harrell Trucking Co. has voiced opposition.
At the public hearing for the Liberty ATV Trails, many speakers voiced opposition to the trails citing noise, safety and other complaints. Many in support of the facility said it would provide a source of revenue for the county as well as safe, family-friendly environment for ATV riders.
In the end, commissioners recommended supervisors deny the request. Supervisors may still vote in favor or against the permit for the ATV trails, but historically, they have went along with the planning commission’s recommendations.
Also up for supervisor’s considerations is a loan agreement and promissory note with the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.
The supervisor’s finance committee has recommended the board approve a loan to the IDA from the county’s debt service reserve account in an amount up to $550,000 to include terms of 3.75% interest rate for five years and annual payments.
The loan would be used for the upfit of the former Daystrom Building on Greens Folly Road, currently owned by the IDA, for use by an economic development prospect.
The solid waste committee is recommending supervisors also consider a task order for Crutchfield and Associates to perform the survey, plat and title review of a proposed site for a new convenience center in the Scottsburg area.
That committee also is recommending the board pursue a new skid steer.
A resolution that would authorize and direct the Halifax County General Registrar, Heather Harding, to request a waiver from the State Board of Elections to administer certain precincts as split precincts for the 2021 election also is set to go before supervisors.
In each year ending in “one,” the governing body of each county and city shall establish the precinct boundaries to be consistent with any congressional district, Senate district, House of Delegates district and local election district that was adopted by the appropriate authority by June 15 of that year.
Due to the delay of the 2020 Census, supervisors have not adopted district boundaries. Since the country was unable to establish a precinct with the minimum number of registered voters without splitting the precinct, then they can apply for a waiver to do so.
The county also has received a request to abandon a portion of Henderson Trail located in election district three, which must go before supervisors for consideration.