‘State of the County’ provides recap, future plans in Charles City
Providing a recap of past accomplishments and foresight of future plans, Charles City County Administrator Michelle Johnson provided the first “State of the County” address during Tuesday night’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting.
Johnson opened her presentation with demographics of the county. Through numbers, the county administrator showed the increase in business permits, land disturbance permits, and inspections in the county, identified as growth indicators. She also commented about programs being established to assist veterans, disabled, and elder people in Charles City.
Along with information provided to Johnson by her board of directors, the county administrator pointed to 2017 accomplishments. Among them included the reconstruction of the Hideaway wastewater treatment plant, the new LOVE sign designed by Charles City elementary students, and the county being recognized as a “Playful City USA” location, allowing them the opportunities to apply for grants for the recreation department. Working with the Economic Development Authority (EDA), Johnson talked about new businesses that were established in the county (Upper Shirley Vineyards, Burling Plantation, Indian Fields Tavern, Custom Utility) and businesses the county is currently in negotiations with (Novi Energy Powerplant and Chickahominy Power LLC).
Infrastructure upgrades that have improved facilities include repainting and removing of partitions at Charles City Social Center, new carpets and upgraded equipment at the Charles City Fitness Center, floor replacement and repainting at the Charles City gymnasium, and improvements to Charles City’s Animal Shelter. Upgrades are continuing at the Hideaway treatment plant, while the Mt. Zion and Kimages treatment plants are scheduled to be addressed within the coming months.
Another accomplishment that Johnson spoke highly of is the new county website for Charles City. According to the county administrator, it is more informative, navigable, and is more appealing on the viewer.
Johnson moved to future plans for the county. As expected, getting broadband to county citizens remains high on her priority list. Other things planned for the future include the Route 106 Master Plan, the Route 5 Master Plan (overlay district), the construction of a primitive campsite at Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park, an extension of the Virginia Capital Trail from the courthouse complex to county schools, and beginning work on the 2019 comprehensive plan.
Johnson commented on the goals of Charles City, both past and future.
“We have done a lot in the past year and I wanted the citizens to see that,” she said. “This is not a job for me as I am passionate about being from here.
“I want this county to thrive and maintain its rural character,” Johnson continued, specifically pointing to the layout of the Route 106 Master Plan. “We have set goals for upcoming projects we want to do but I expect to exceed them and do more so that businesses and visitors to come to Charles City and see how great we are.”
In other action at the board of supervisors’ meeting:
–Received an update about the Route 106 Master Plan. Assistant Zoning Administrator Myles Busching told county leaders they he has been conducting SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Oppositions, and Threats) analysis with stakeholders at recent meetings and county staff. Busching said that two meetings are planned with the public, with one at Union Baptist Church (Mar. 6) and one at St. John’s Baptist Church (Mar. 13). An additional meeting will be held with businesses on Mar. 16 at a location to be determined. Busching will receive input and feedback from county supervisors as part of a Mar. 7 work session.
–Transferred $110,000 back into the fund balance from the ID Networks project. In January, county leaders voted to finance the purchase of equipment necessary to upgrade emergency communications within the sheriff’s department. The sheriff’s departments obtained grants exceeding $100,000, allowing them to pay for the upgrades and allowing county leaders to retract the original funds and put them back into the general fund balance.
–Approved to enter into a contract with David A. Nice Builders, Inc. for the construction of the Charles City Library. Supervisors approved the contract totaling $3,011,000 to begin facilitating the build of the library after a referendum passed in 2015 by citizens during the general election to borrow $2.5 million for the facility.
–Entered into a Memorandum of Understanding of (MOU) with the Colonial Courthouse Committee. In the MOU, county leaders are pledging $200,000 of the $2.5 million loan from the aforementioned referendum to renovate Charles City’s Historical Courthouse. The Colonial Courthouse Committee is planning to raise $500,000 to assist with the renovations of the courthouse.