Dollar General

Tall grass surrounds the Dollar General located at the corner of Highway 501 and U.S. 360 in the town of Halifax on April 25.

Progress has been made at the Dollar General site to clean up the property as noted by Halifax Town Council when they met Tuesday night, and provisions were found in their zoning ordinance to help enforce landscaping.

However, council decided to hold off another month from approving amendments to the weeds and debris section of the town’s health and sanitation code.

Councilman Mike Trent wasn’t sure if there was wording in the invasive species section of the code to prevent homeowners who did plant or cultivate invasive species from being held responsible.

Wording was included to the running bamboo section to protect those homeowners, so he wanted to hold off from taking action as a precaution.

Last month, council decided not to take any action on the amended code after concerns were brought up about the upkeep of Dollar General.

Councilman Jack Dunavant wanted to make sure there was something in the code to help enforce landscaping.

Mayor Dexter Gilliam said landscaping requirements should be in their zoning ordinance, and Town Manager Carl Espy said he would provide the code to council.

Council noted on Tuesday night the landscaping requirement was part of the zoning ordinance, and they feel it is sufficient enough to enforce the upkeep of the Dollar General property.

Councilman Mike Trent said he is satisfied with what was set in the zoning ordinance and commended the progress made on the property within the past month.

In other action Tuesday, council authorized the signing of a resolution giving employees the option of participating with a Virginia Retirement System voluntary group long-term care insurance program.

Employees must pay into the program leaving no additional cost to the town.

Prior to council approving the resolution, Espy said some town employees want to participate.

VRS employees should now set up appointments with those interested parties.

Council members also heard the monthly police report from Halifax Police Chief Stuart Comer who said officers made one felony arrest, 23 misdemeanor arrests, served one protective order, responded to 567 calls for service, wrote 55 traffic summons, worked one minor traffic accident and issued 50 warnings during April.

Prior to the monthly meeting, council met for a work session, which began with a report from Library Director Jay Stephens on recent awards the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System recently received from the Virginia Public Library Directors Association at the organization’s annual meeting in Staunton in April.

The library won the award for Outstanding Young Adult Program for the Coding Club. The Coding Club is a creation of library employee Suzanne Reeves.

The library also received the award for Outstanding Cooperative Program for author Beth Macy’s appearance at The Prizery on Oct. 22 where she spoke about her book “Dopesick.”

Council also reviewed preliminary figures for the fiscal year 2019-2020 draft budget that showed a $12,363 shortfall.

The finance committee will consider recommendations from town council to reduce budget line items in several departments to eliminate the initial shortfall.

Potential department reductions could come from administration, business development, municipal building and streets.

It was noted the shortfall is largely due to the grant funded projects for the Banister River Blueways and the Halifax Downtown Streetscape Extension.

Council previously approved two general obligation bond series totaling $498,000 with the first interest payment due July 1 and the first principal payment due January 2020.

The finance committee met again Thursday to continue budget talks.

Council also reviewed a final report of the Earth Day Extravaganza that brought in $1,400 in monetary sponsorships and over 20 local and regional organizations who participated.

More than two tons of paper was shredded during the second annual community shred event, and 50 prize bags were distributed as part of the children’s scavenger hunt.

For next year, Assistant Town Manager Denise Barksdale said they plan to work on parking and gaining more volunteers.

In the absence of Bill Confroy, Dunavant led discussion on current affairs and suggested creating a committee led by him to form a liaison between council and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors to be more involved with the courthouse projects.

Mayor Gilliam said he had previously met with the chair of the supervisors, the county administrator and others who planned on meeting periodically with the mayor to give updates on the progress of the courthouse and next steps of the plan.

He said this would allow the mayor to be able to give updates during council meetings, so the public and businesses would be aware of the steps of the project that could affect issues such as traffic and parking.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com