Economic development is the goal of a strategic plan drafted by the town of Halifax working group “Here’s Halifax!”

With a unanimous vote from town council at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting, the group will move forward with its top three priorities: parking/ traffic/transportation, beautification/green space development and business development.

Councilman Bill Covington made the motion to endorse the working group’s strategies.

Business development chairman Michael Trent outlined the group’s priorities in the work session preceding the regular meeting. The first goal is to have a parking, traffic and transportation plan in place before construction of the new courthouse is completed.

The beautification and green space development priority involves the development of green space and a fenced-in area for children with playground equipment at the farmers’ market, and scouting a location for a park in town.

That priority area also includes addressing blighted/ derelict properties.

The final priority is business development.

“What we’re looking at there is largely the recruitment and retention of business and the strategies — vestige incentives, tax incentives and all the different incentives that we can do as a part of that,” Trent said.

Council had authorized the working group in fall 2019 to bring forward three to five projects that are doable, and the working group delivered on that during Tuesday’s meeting.

Mayor Dexter Gilliam said he would like the topics council discusses month after month in its work session meetings, such as the Virginia Main Street Approach and the Smart Scale transportation project to eventually be included in the working group’s strategic plan.

“The thought is that the council and staff are all on the same sheet of music,” Gilliam said. “And every month when we come, we can bring these things up and benchmark against them to see where the progress is being made or the progress is not being made, so we can keep tabs on these things to move them to fruition.”

Moving forward, Trent said the next step for “Here’s Halifax!” is to formally put together a larger committee to work on the priority areas.

Another item unanimously approved by council at its Tuesday meeting was the endorsement of a USDA-rural development grant application drafted by the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority. IDA is partnering with the town of Halifax and the town of South Boston on the grant application to create a revolving loan fund to support local emerging and existing small businesses. Councilman Trent made the motion to endorse the grant application and councilman Covington seconded the motion.

The council’s final action item at Tuesday’s meeting was a vote on the wording that will appear on a brick to be placed on behalf of the town of Halifax in the Southside Veteran’s Walkway of Honor at the Virginia War Memorial.

Councilwoman Janice Powell made a motion to select the wording “All who braved the peril of war, town of Halifax” on the brick. Councilwoman Gail Bosiger seconded the motion. The motion carried in a 5-0 vote, with Councilman Jack Dunavant abstaining from the vote.

In other business, the town’s chief of police Stuart Comer gave his report for the month of January. The police department made six felony arrests for charges of forgery, larceny and communicate arson, and 26 misdemeanor arrests for charges of capias, driving under the influence, reckless driving and drunk in public. The department also issued one protective order for domestic assault.

Overall, the department had 527 calls for service in January. The department also issued 59 traffic summons and 57 warnings for miscellaneous violations. No traffic accidents were reported.

Comer also reported department members’ accomplishments last month. Officers Martin and Eckstein earned breathalyzer certification, Sgt. Florence attended defense tactics instruction, officer Bowen attended Department of Transportation School and chief Comer attended a transportation safety meeting.

Councilman Bill Confroy was absent from the meeting.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.