Election officers needed; job isn’t an issue

There is a law on the books that specifically works for you.

Thank you for your March 11 article concerning the recent Primary Election.

I was heartened to read that Teri Smithson, our General Registrar, and Assistant Registrar Sheila Frattini mentioned that we need voters to serve as election officers. These are the people you can see working at the desk and near the various machines to help our voters.

The success of the Hanover election process is founded on the good people of Hanover County who have received training and who work on the elections as Officers of the Election. It is an important public service that every registered voter can perform.

I hear that people say “I would like to help with the elections but I have to work”. There is a specific law on the books that really works with you in mind. The Code of Virginia Section 24.2-118.1: Prohibition discrimination in employment; penalty.

The law states: “Any person who serves as an officer of the election as defined in 24.2-101 shall neither be discharged from employment, nor have any adverse personnel action taken against him , nor shall he be required to use sick leave or vacation time, as a result of his absence from employment due to such service. No person who serves for four or more hours including travel time, on his day of service shall be required to start any work shift that begins on or after 5:00 p.m. on the day of his service or begins before 3:00 a.m. on the day following the day of his service. Any employer violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.”

If you want to help with elections, state law has got you covered. You can show your supervisor the law if they are not familiar with it.

As an officer of election, you will be trained by the General Registrar’s professional staff in the various duties for our elections.

The officers of election also earn a modest salary for their public service.

If you are interested in serving the approximately 80,000 of your best friends and neighbors as an officer of the election, you can proceed in one of two ways.

You can either visit the Hanover County website at www.hanovercounty.gov to apply, or you can call 804-365-6080. It is a simple as that to get started.

We follow the election laws and perform our duties with a helpful smile and maintain the election’s integrity.

Now is possibly the very best time to sign up for the appropriate training before the November Presidential Election. I can promise that you won’t be thrown to the lions; everyone is trained and brought along in the system with consideration for their level of experience. This public is “doable” for any registered voter.

The officers are good people, who are directly serving their neighbors, keeping our elections legal, safe and accurate. This is public service in the best way.

I hope you will take the time to visit the website or call the office and start the process. You can easily get the training for a meaningful, limited time commitment, public service responsibility.

Thank you all, we will see you at the polls.

My best.

Lou Szari

Mechanicsville

Historic nature needs saved despite growth

Like so many other of my fellow Hanover County neighbors, I moved to Hanover for the community, the reputation of the schools, and the beauty of the landscape.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with the historical nature of the area but I have and it’s fascinating. These are the things that we all should be working to preserve in Hanover.

In the last eight years, the population of Hanover has seen significant growth.

The county has been faced with hard decisions. How do they pay for infrastructure to keep up with the population growth?

Ultimately, the county has chosen to become business-centric by putting the needs of businesses before the needs of the citizens in order to encourage economic growth. Transparency and sense of community have been lost.

The most recent example is the Wegmans’ project.

The Hanover County Board of Supervisors made a choice to announce the project after the election was held in November, knowing the negative impacts on the community.

Over the years, Hanover has used economic development to justify the black hole of information being shared with the public.

There are legal exemptions that allow for closed session negotiations to take place over a long period of time and are designed to keep the public in the dark until the deal is almost done to protect the economic benefit of the businesses.

They don’t even have to identify what they are talking about in the closed session meetings.

While these back door meetings are legal, they are completely voluntary.

These meetings are not required to be closed. Our county has chosen to operate this way.

They have chosen to prioritize businesses over citizens. This is the culture that should change.

Citizens have choices as well.

We do not have to accept the voluntarily closed door meetings that put economic growth ahead of the citizens’ rights.

We have the power of voices and voting and ultimately the choice of where we live.

The people are the thread that weaves this community together. Without them, it would be a tangled web of string without any use.

I was encouraged at a recent community meeting, to hear supervisors Faye Prichard and Angela Kelly-Wiecek state that Hanover is in need of a culture change. They think citizens should be the top priority with economic growth second.

I have heard supervisor Sean Davis state that transparency is a number one priority in Hanover and I’ve heard our supervisors chairman Aubrey Stanley state that he has been in politics for over 33 years and you don’t get here or stay here by being less than transparent. Yet, actions speak louder than words and the county’s actions do not translate to transparency.

I believe most Hanover County residents agree that the need for change is overdue.

The board of supervisors is being presented with a timely opportunity to gain the trust back of their constituents over the next four years and before the next election period.

The county administrator position is the chief executive of the county government. This position is arguably the most influential position on the culture of Hanover County.

The current administrator, Rhu Harris, is slated to retire on May 15 and the replacement will be appointed by the board of supervisors. I understand interviews are currently underway.

I ask that the board of supervisors put citizens first. Appoint at least two county citizens to be a part of the interview committee for the county administrator position. And allow a citizen from each district to review the applications and resumes.

The citizens are engaged and watching your actions. You have the ability to act on the words you have spoken. This is your opportunity to truly move toward transparency!

Will Hanover take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf or will it be business as usual?

Shanda Miller

Mechanicsville

Growth isn’t issue as much as challenges

I can appreciate your recent editorial stating you don’t understand the concerns expressed by the Atlee and Brown Grove communities regarding the proposed Wegmans’ Distribution Center (DC).

You noted that there is development happening near your neighborhood and the county is growing. That is a fair statement.

Many residents who oppose the proposed Wegmans’ distribution center also understand Hanover County is growing. We support effective growth when it is properly located in an area that is in harmony with the surrounding land uses.

The opposition to the Wegmans’ distribution center are from people of all walks of life and with diverse political perspectives – conservative, independent and liberal.

We all understand smart development is necessary to support vital community services and to create good paying jobs.

In my conversations with neighbors throughout the area affected, I have rarely come across anyone who is opposed to community growth. Many understand we reside on the edge of Hanover County's designated growth area.

Hanover County has wisely concentrated growth into certain areas of the county with a long-established policy that is a model within the Commonwealth.

Indeed, Hanover County is pointed to in statewide community planning training classes as an example of how to effectively manage suburban growth.

However, the proposed Wegmans’ distribution center is different from our typical local development project.

Hanover County has not had a project of this significance and magnitude in some time.

There are unique challenges associated with this proposed project.

Those challenges include – a location directly beside some of the largest residential neighborhoods in the county; the fact the facility will operate a 24 hours, 7 days a week; a site plan with very thin vegetated buffers for screening and noise abatement; highly legitimate issues related to the creation of nuisance noise from the facility operation; the potential for creating off-sight nuisance light pollution; increased traffic safety issues for both motorists and cyclists who use adjacent roads, including the long designated U.S. 76 Bicycle Trail; and many more issues.

There are many technical matters that make the property difficult to develop. Several historical features are located on this site such as a structure believed to have been associated with the Merry Oaks Tavern.

The former Brown Grove School, active during a portion of segregation, is located directly across from the Brown Grove Baptist Church.

There are long rumors and written communications over the last 25 years that there are graves on the property. Yet archaeological surveys conducted to date have excluded both the school and any search for potential graves.

There are extensive wetlands found throughout the property.

In order for this site to be developed, a large amount of these features will have to be filled and mitigated for off-site at a location that does little to improve the water quality of the downstream Totopotomoy Creek, portions which have long failed to meet water standards established by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

With respect, it is very clear you do not understand the unique complexities of this proposed development at this particular location. Now that you are aware of just some of these concerns, our community (much larger than the Fox Head subdivision, by the way) hopes you and other regional media members will take a closer look at this matter.

We invite you to become educated on the topic so you can move beyond the statement of “I don’t understand” to one of first-hand knowledge of the many and substantial complex issues that extends far beyond a simple "Not In My Back Yard" concern.

Chris French

Mechanicsville

Resident: claim by NAACP is subjective

I have never read such a hate-spewed letter in your paper as that by Don Ducote.

It is so disturbing and toxic and I cannot help but question what keeps Mr. Ducote living in beautiful Hanover County. If I lived in a place I disdained that much, I would move -- oh, wait, I did!! From Newport News, which has become a reflection of Mr. Ducote.

However, he hates our country, our president, Republicans, local schools, and somehow fits in the kindness of Jesus.

The cost of changing the name of Lee-Davis High School is estimated at $1 million -- that’s a lot of school supplies, Mr. Ducote.

I am looking forward to the new school being built with a benign and charming name that pleases everyone like Pleasant View High School but to assert, as Dr .Marlene Fuller does that students “have been emotionally wounded from their educational experience in Hanover County,” is absurd.

Those siding with the NAACP suit that makes this ludicrous claim will have to prove that in court and it is highly subjective.

I was emotionally wounded in high school because I was ousted from a club -- other children emotionally wounded for being bullied, harassed, abused, etc., but you cannot blame a school name for feelings. It’s all about performance and if kids are performing poorly you cannot blame the name.

My neighbor is a retired USA Green Beret, his son Henrico County Police Command Officer, his daughter is a teacher, and all are black Americans who went to Lee-Davis, as do their children who are stellar students.

I had the privilege of sitting next to a black mother and grandmother at ball games this past fall -- their girls were in the color guard (should we change that name?), and I asked boldly the question how they were affected by the Lee-Davis name.

Their responses were that they were so happy to be in Hanover County Public Schools instead of where they were previously that the name was way down on their list of wants for their kids.

They moved to be here, so Mr. Ducote can move to be there.

Patsy Lassiter

Mechanicsville

Schools’ names could be less controversial

First, let me thank you for your dedicated journalism for the benefit of the Hanover County community. It is very hard work, significant work, and the schedule is relentless. Second, I wish to thank you for the moments of entertainment and laughter as I read Don Ducote’s spicy letter about the national debt, reds, blues, idiots, legal expenses, taxes, etc. (March 18 issue)

He may not have used the most diplomatic language, but he certainly addressed many of the issues of the day.

(For the record, I agree with many folks, that our county would be wise to rename Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School as soon as possible. Are we delaying because community pride is on the line? Because some people are more important than other people? Hanover County has much of which to be proud. Surely we can select some less controversial names to grace these taxpayer-funded academic institutions for the present and the future.)

Julie May

Mechanicsville

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