Eye on turning a corner

By Susan Gibbs

Michelle Flynn

Michelle Flynn

Two of four candidates for the Greene County Board of Supervisors brought fresh ideas—or at least ideas that had not been brought up for awhile—to the candidates forum co-sponsored by the Charlottesville Area League of Women Voters and the Greene County Chamber of Commerce and held at the William Monroe High School Performing Arts Center Wednesday, September 23.      Michelle Flynn, who is challenging Incumbent Davis Lamb for his Ruckersville seat on the Board, said she would like to see the county hire a full-time grant writer to be shared between the county and the schools, and to combine transportation services with Madison and Culpeper.

“There is so much money available and the reality is that localities which hire grant writers are usually able to recapture the cost of that grant writer in pretty short order,” Flynn said. “(Grants are available to) fund things like a multi-generational center, additional emergency services vehicle, broadband for the county … there’s money available for the schools … there’s so much that’s available.”

As for transportation: The county is currently served by The Greene County Transit, Inc., a demand-response transportation system that offers door-to-door service within the county and to Charlottesville on a limited basis. Trips are based on a telephone call-in system, and the organization, founded in 1976, operates under the umbrella of the Greene County Board of Supervisors.

Flynn, who served eight years on the Greene County School Board before redistricting forced her out of her seat, attended William Monroe High School before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Virginia’s Radford University and a master’s degree from Catholic University in Washington DC, is a licensed clinical social worker currently employed as director of case management at UVA-HealthSouth Hospital in Charlottesville.

Dale Herring, who is running against Bob Young for the At Large seat being vacated by Eddie Deane, did not comment on the grant writer proposal, but, like Flynn, suggested that transportation services be combined. He would like to see broadband service throughout the county.

Dale Herring

Dale Herring

Herring, who is director of technology for the Greene County Public School System, said there are several opportunities for that service around the corner, but selecting a provider for it should be based on affordability.“I would like to see us have local hot spots (and) training areas so people can learn how to use the technology,” he said. “I would like to see better technology in the county office buildings, and (to develop) a Web site that will deliver information to citizens.”

Raised in Greene County, Herring was valedictorian of his William Monroe High School class before going on to earn a degree in engineering from the University of Virginia. He says that throughout his career he has worked with multiple governmental agencies, non-profits, for profits, and educational institutions. He has worked with the county government and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to improve broadband access, is a member of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Consortium, has worked on the Comprehensive Plan for Greene County Public Schools, and is currently working with regional technology leaders and state officials to decrease the overall cost of broadband to local school divisions.

Young was not in attendance, having earlier objected to the person who found the location and set the times for the forums.

Incumbent David Cox (Monroe), who is being challenged by write-in candidate Donna Harlow, was also in attendance, as was Lamb.

Davis Lamb

Davis Lamb

Both Cox and Lamb have deep roots in Greene County. Cox, who is currently a machinery operator for the Virginia Department of Transportation, worked the family farm with his father, former supervisor Mickey Cox, for years, and Lamb and his two brothers own and operate the last remaining dairy farm in Greene.

The candidates were asked eight questions.

The first was: What is your vision for Greene County for the next five years?

Lamb was the first to respond.

“(We have to) get around to building this water impoundment. That’s my number one priority,” Lamb said. “(Without it) Greene County cannot expand commercially or residentially.”

Cox agreed with Lamb, adding that “most of the land acquisition (necessary to the construction of the impoundment) has been taken care of.” He also said that the Greene County Technical Education Center and School is “very dear to me … I would like to see additional programs (there).”

Flynn said that her vision is to establish a tax base that capitalizes on the geography of the county. But, she added, “We do need the infrastructure to support development.” That infrastructure, she explained, includes improvements to schools, technology and recreational facilities and programs. “People don’t want to have to travel outside the county to enjoy time with their families,” she said.

Herring said his priorities were water impoundment and broadband, but that he would also like to see improvements to the schools and the expansion of parks and recreation department (programs).

The second question was: What is your current involvement in the community?

David Cox

David Cox

Cox said that he has been involved with the Stanardsville Volunteer Fire Department and 4-H; Flynn said that she had made a conscious decision to limit her community involvement (for awhile) when she retired from the school board, but that she is a Boy Scout mother and helps out with a program called Wildlife; Herring said that he does a lot of work with the schools, has served on the Greene County Department of Parks and Recreation Board of Directors, and “helps out as much as I can.”

Lamb, who served on the Greene County Planning Commission for six years prior to his election to the seat he now holds on the Greene County Board of Supervisors, has served on the Greene County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, has long been active with the Greene County Ruritans, is on a local garden club’s board of directors, is active in the Greene County Singers, and is a trustee at the Stanardsville United Methodist Church.

The third question was: If elected, how will you communicate with and support existing businesses and business growth?

Flynn said the county is fortunate to have a vibrant Chamber of Commerce … and office of economic development. She said, too, that supervisors need to reach out and listen, to help support the process.

Herring said that businesses needed to be supported from start to finish, and noted that Stanardsville is often overlooked, but that some were trying to develop a plan for Stanardsville itself. “I believe that if we do things correctly and all work together we can bring more businesses to our community,” he said.

Lamb said that he often visits businesses, and asks if they have any problems or concerns. He also noted that the planning department has brochures that list the procedure necessary to establishing a business in the county. But, he added, “We need fast internet.”

Cox said he communicates with businesses by “going in, introducing myself, talking to managers talking to employees, and asking what we can do to help.”

The fourth question was: How would you balance the need for growth against the need to maintain a quiet, rural lifestyle?

Herring said he would follow the county’s comprehensive plan (which provides for growth areas) “so we can control how things change.”

Lamb, Cox and Flynn, all said basically the same; that the comprehensive plan provides for growth, as well as a quiet, rural lifestyle.

However, said Flynn, “(We should) engage citizens in this conversation, and be willing to listen to all sides.”

The fifth question was: What is the one great idea you would bring to the Board of Supervisors of Greene County?

Lamb said that he would like to see a center for senior citizens and youth with facilities for “dances, receptions… (and) … all of us like swimming … and I wouldn’t mind playing shuffleboard.”

Cox said he had “more than one idea but would keep it to one” and that one would be to improve emergency services. “We are blessed to have three volunteer fire departments,” he said, and “will be looking at a program to help each replace its vehicles over a 20-year period.”

Flynn responded with her idea for a grant writer, and Herring responded with his idea for hot spots and training areas for broadband.

The sixth question pertained to public schools, noting that current policies promotes SOL testing, while the Virginia General Assembly is considering a constitutional amendment that would increase charter schools. The candidates were asked what they thought is the best way to promote public schools.

Flynn called for increased accountability in the county’s public school system, while Herring pointed out that the schools are getting away from the fundamentals and are increasingly teaching to the tests.

The seventh question was; What steps would you take to bring high speed internet to the county?

Cox said he had contacted Century Link but had not received a definitive plan.

Herring said there are several opportunities around the corner but that his priority in selecting a provider would be affordability.

Flynn again mentioned hiring a grant writer, and Lamb said cost consideration is important.

Perhaps referring to the fact that Young, Harlow, and Sheriff Steve Smith were refusing to attend forums sponsored by the Charlottesville Area League of Women Voters, the seventh question noted the political division that exists in the county and called on candidates to state what they would do to heal it.

Lamb called for a cohesive board of supervisors; Cox agreed with Lamb and noted that these are trying times; Herring said board members should agree to disagree; and Flynn said, “Be nice.”

The eighth question was about the county’s reserve fund. The candidates were asked what they would do to establish a reserve minimum.

Lamb called for vigilance and frugality. He said the county needs a $4.5 million constant to cover expenses, an emergency fund, and funds set aside for infrastructure.

Cox said budget talks began the night before the forum and suggested that citizens speak to their supervisor regarding its structure.

Herring noted that the county has been dipping into the reserve fund more and more each year, and Flynn called attention to the confusion about how the balance in fund is calculated and asked for definition of perimeters in policy and consistency.

The ninth and final question was about transportation solutions.

Flynn and Herring called for partnering with Madison and Culpeper; Lamb said he would love to see mass transit seven days a week, ultimately culminating with a monorail down US Route 29.

Elections are to be held November 3.

Posted in: News
Comments Off on Eye on turning a corner

Comments are closed.