Altavista Town Council has given the green light for a water treatment project at the overflow pond. The use of PCBs was outlawed in 1977—but up until then, nearby industries unknowingly deposited, for many years, into the town’s 6.1 acre pond adjacent to the waste water treatment plant. In 2002, the town entered the DEQ’s voluntary remediation plan. Members of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s (IALR) Applied Research team met with officials in October with a proposal to treat the contaminants. The suggestion is to plant switchgrass with the expectation, the roots will secrete sugars to keep the bacteria alive, which inoculates the soil, while spreading beneficial bacteria as the roots grow. Funding was approved last month.
The Bedford Welcome Center, is home to not one two or three Christmas Trees-but twenty-five! It’s become an annual tradition. Bedford Festival of Trees in which organizations compete for donations to their favorite charity. This year’s theme is Christmas on the Homefront-1944; Ballots are $1 each; and voters have extra hours to vote extended hours on December 12 through 14. The competition is open until noon on December 31. All proceeds of the top three winning trees will be donated to their selected charities. More about the fund-raiser online at: http://visitbedford.com.
The U.S. Forest Service plan, to make most of the George Washington National Forest unavailable for fracking, also spares the portions of the national forest that are in Amherst and Nelson counties. The Forest Service received 53,000 comments on the forest plan many requesting consideration of certain control measures that aim to protect natural resources. The long-term forest plan, announced on Nov. 17 would protect most of the 1.1 million-acre forest. According to the finalized plan, the only areas of the forest that may be drilled are the 10,000 acres of the national forest that are currently under gas leases, located in Highland County.
The stormwater management permit fee will be reduced for some in Campbell County. In July, the county increased the fee and implemented changes in stormwater management regulations; with the Department of Environmental Quality administering the program along with erosion and sediment control laws. In October, officials were informed that there was a difference in the fees for single-family homes in the region. Sources say, as of last month, the DEQ was not collecting the fees because it believed that the General Assembly had failed to authorize it during the 2014 legislative session. The recommendation is to lower the fees liken to those in Amherst and Appomattox counties.
An Appomattox man will spend one year in prison for strangling his girlfriend. 33 year old, Bobby Wayne Dalton was arrested in August, charged with assault and battery a family member. On November 19, Dalton pled no contest to the charges as part of a plea agreement. A forensic nurse determined the girlfriend had significant injuries to her throat that was consistent with strangulation. By pleading no contest, he did not admit guilt to the charges. In some cases, a person enters no contest to a charge so that another party could not use that against them in civil litigation. According to the Times Virginian, this assault charge is Dalton’s third offense.
Time is ticking away for a new budget for Amherst County Schools. There have been questioned raised regarding changes in the county’s new budgeting processes but the timeline to submit the division’s needs is coming to an end. Capital improvement requests were due in October; the deadline for department operational requests proposed for the 2016 budget was last Friday supplemental requests are due by Monday. Some school officials have expressed concern about the lack of information about capital improvements and operational needs. According to the New Era Progress, school revenues will not be determined until the spring.
Two area health providers will be able to expand behavioral health services through an Affordable Care Act grant. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced earlier this month, that Johnson Health Center and Blue Ridge Medical Center will be awarded $250.000 to establish or expand mental health and substance abuse treatment services. The money will be used to provide additional counseling personnel; psychiatrist and behavioral health specialist, to focus on substance abuse treatment and psychiatric and pain management services. According to the New Era Progress, there is an increased need for pediatric behavioral health services for children.
Currently, some fire companies across Bedford County, respond to emergencies with engines that are more than 20 years old, but officials says that won’t be the case for much longer. Funding will allow an upgrade for fire trucks at four departments. The $800,000 is part of a renewed commitment from county supervisors. Firefighters aren’t the only ones getting new vehicles. Bedford County Fire and Rescue Chief Jack Jones tells WDBJ-7 that EMS agencies should be getting new ambulances as well. Big Island, Huddleston, and Stewartsville-Chamblissburg will use the funding initially. An additional $500,000 from the 2014-15 budget is being used to purchase a new truck for the Saunders Volunteer Fire Company at Smith Mountain Lake.
Officials in the Town of Appomattox are hoping to include the Visitor Center in a renewal grant. Earlier this year, plans were announce to relocate the Visitor’s Information Center to the rear of the depot on Main Street, a structure that dates back to the late 1800s the town hopes to restore the building to its original colors and incorporate historical aspects reminiscent of the time period. According to the Times Virginian, town representatives are expected to talk about the possibility of including the facility in the downtown revitalization effort at the meeting slated for next month.
The Town of Amherst has put itself on the map…literally! A map that showcases Amherst County’s businesses; and landmarks is now available in both paper form and online. The map was created after town officials expressed interest in securing the services of a marketing expert to help the locality promote the many attractions and services available. Maps of both the town of Amherst and the surrounding county can be obtained in paper form at Amherst Town Hall OR to view an online version visit: www.onthemapamherst.com.