Rhu Harris

HANOVER -- County Administrator Rhu Harris presented his proposed 20121 Fiscal Year Initiatives last week to the Hanover County Board of Supervisors.

With his retirement looming months away, it was Harris’ final presentation of the annual wish list, and he asked supervisors to delay a decision on the priorities until after his budget is unveiled next month.

“Each year at this time, we are pleased to bring forward a discussion on our initiatives for the upcoming year. Tonight I’d like to offer several proposed initiatives for your consideration,” Harris said. “These initiatives will be funded through the budget process, so we respectfully request that you defer any consideration on these initiatives until after we finish the budget process in April.”

The first initiative involves continued support for the newly-formed Broadband Advisory Committee and its efforts to discover methods to supply broadband to underserved areas of the county.

“This is a citizen-led committee whose goal is to analyze the existing maps to determine what infrastructure currently exists and how it can be leveraged to expand and improve service … and hopefully provide solutions” Harris said.

The county administrator listed the continuation of the school’s technology plan that supplies laptops to all middle school students this fall. “We have partnered with the schools to include 440,000 for this initiative ... providing all middle school students these devices for the first time.”

The county also envisions the completion of the Sliding Hill Road project in its proposed initiatives for 2021. The project is complete from Kings Charter to Atlee Station Road, but Harris said there’s still “work to be done” and he suggested including the completion by the end of this calendar year as one of his suggested board initiatives.

Also included is the final design for a new terminal on the east side of the county’s airport. “We expect to complete this design this spring, and total cost for this building will be approximately $3.7 million including site improvement,” Harris said. Once the design is complete, the county can apply to the Department of Aviation for construction funds (80 percent) for the project.

Montpelier residents were pleased to learn that the Montpelier Park, Community Center and Library also are on the list of 2021 initiatives. The county has committed to building a $5.4 million, 20,000-square- foot two-story facility, including a gym, with construction beginning in 2022.

Since 2005, the county has attempted to gauge its performance by submitting citizen surveys to a portion of its population every three years. “We propose to survey 1,700 households … and have had a very high participation rate from our surveys in recent years,” Harris said. Those surveys, if approved by the board, will be mailed in August with results expected by the end of this calendar year.

Finally, in coordination with the county’s upcoming 300th Birthday Celebration, Harris listed the opening of the Hanover County Museum as one of his initiatives for 2021.

“As part of the culmination ceremony of the county’s 300th birthday, we’re proposing to open the Hanover Museum of History and Culture,” Harris said. The museum will be dedicated on Oct. 17 as part of the countywide celebration commemorating three centuries of history. The museum will be housed in the old Clerk’s Office, and a part-time director has been hired to oversee the project.

In regards to Harris’ pending retirement, supervisors held a special workshop session earlier that day to gather information on the process from an outside firm hired to assist the county in finding a new county administrator.

Representatives of the Berkley Group updated supervisors and said they are receiving inquiries and applications and phone interviews will begin next month.

In other news, newly-elected South Anna supervisor Sue Dibble tapped Kelly Evko, one of four candidates nominated, to replace her on the Hanover County School Board.

“I would like to thank all four of our nominees,” Dibble said. “I think we had an excellent slate of nominees and I’ve met with each of them and asked questions and I think we had an extremely strong pool of candidates.”

Before announcing her decision, Dibble said she had contacted the three candidates who were not selected and assured them their service was important and other opportunities might present themselves where “they could continue to help citizens.”

Dibble said Evko has the qualifications necessary to serve Hanover educators and students. “Kelly Evko brings strong business and finance experience and also is an excellent communicator and leader. I believe she will hit the ground running and I believe she will definitely represent South Anna with the same passion and dedication that I have for six years,” Dibble said.

“I’d like to thank Ms. Dibble for having the confidence in me to select me from four very strong candidates,” Evko said. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens of South Anna and looking forward to continuing the great work.”

Evko’s appointment leaves the school board with one vacancy, the Mechanicsville seat vacated by Chairman Roger Bourassa’s resignation last month.

Nominations for that position will be accepted at the board’s Feb. 12 meeting.

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