Trustees make it clear that county does not sponsor local militia

VDOT Plan, Budget Amendment, and court cost increase approved

By Jami Snead, Staff Writer
Posted: June 25, 2020 | 3:54 p.m.

DINWIDDIE— Dianna Bryant, Assistant Residency Administrator with the Virginia Department Of Transportation,  reviewed the VDOT Secondary Six Year Plan with the Board during the first Public Hearing of the evening. The budget plan includes paving at Baltimore Road, Branches Road, Cherry Hill Road, Shippings Road, Reese Road, and adding a third lane on Route 1 North overpass to Washington Street. The Ferndale Road project was removed from the six year plan because it was approved for Smart Scale funding.

There were no comments from the public on this matter, however, County Administrator, Kevin Massengil and Board Member, Harrison Moody did raise questions about the Route 460/Route 220 intersection project and why it was not included in the VDOT plan. Bryant responded, “There was nothing that we could think to do at that intersection to make improvements there so that money is actually being transferred to the project that we submitted for the Smart Scale Funding.”

Mr. Massengil added, “At one time VDOT made an engineering recommendation that improvements should be made at that intersection so are we saying now that VDOT couldn’t think of how to spend that money at that intersection?”

“We did confer with the engineering company and looked at that intersection. We did make some improvements there with the turn lane coming off of 460 West on to 220 and we also moved that raised median there but we didn’t really get any good suggestions that would improve that intersection.” She added that she thought the removal of the project was discussed with the Board.

Board Member, Brenda Ebron-Bonner, asked about how drainage issues on the northern end of the county are being handled by VDOT. Bryant allowed another VDOT representative to jump on the call and answer questions regarding drainage concerns. “With respect to the drainage, we have been working with the county staff on different grants and things that are available.” He continued, “I believe there’s still some back and forth that we are working through with the county as far as responsibility for maintenance on particular areas in the northern end.” The plan was unanimously approved by the Board.

Deputy County Administrator, Anne Howerton, discussed the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Amendment-Appropriation of Federal COVID 19 Response Funds. “We’ve got $28,396.46 coming from HHS (HHS Relief Fund) in relation to ambulance billing. And then we have almost $2.5 million that coming through the Federal CARES Act. Because this amount of money is greater than our 1% threshold of our current budget, we’re having to do a public hearing today. The funds can be used for unbudgeted qualifying expenditures that incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

“The overall philosophy of the County is that we will direct expenses, that we have expended to date, would be covered from the CARES funds. We know that that’s estimated to be probably, by the time we get through this calendar year, somewhere around a half million dollars,” said County Administrator Massengil. “We’ve also identified some other additional costs around five or $600,000 of additional expenses. Our combination of potential uses include the sheriff’s office, fire and EMS, IT department, and also community development. As we discussed at the workshop, about $42,600 will go to the town of McKenney.” The Board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

Dinwiddie County has been under contract with Caliber Public Safety for the CAD, GIS, And RMS Systems since 2014. “The original contract in 2014 was in the amount of $237,315 and since then we have had 17 change orders that have been executed, totaling about $59,950 which is about 25% of the contract.” said Director Of Emergency Communications, Denice Crowder. She continued, “Caliber has provided the County with a quote of about $23,724 for the development, interface, installation, and maintenance of the service in relation to Phoenix Fire Alerting System.” These slight changes to the contract require approval from the Board of Supervisors. The resolution was voted on and approved.

County Attorney, Tyler Southall, reviewed the recent changes in court fees with the Board. The Amendment to County Policy reads “Pursuant to § 53.1-120 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, there is hereby established a fee of $20.00$10.00 that shall be ordered as part of court costs imposed upon any defendant convicted in any criminal or traffic case in the district or circuit courts of the county. The fee shall be collected by the clerk of the court, who will remit the fee to the Treasurer of Dinwiddie County. The treasurer shall hold such fees subject to appropriation by the board of supervisors to the sheriff’s office for the funding of courthouse security personnel, and if requested by the sheriff, for the funding of equipment and other personal property used in connection with courthouse security.” According to Southall, “the bottom line is that court costs will be raised from $10 to $20.”

One citizen addressed the Board to receive clarification on the Virginia Code regarding the formation of a militia. “Under who’s direction should the militia be assembled?” She continued, “Further, I did note some inconsistencies in the online muster call that was posted online. Item number one on that muster called stated, ‘that a roster of volunteers will not be provided to state or federal agencies in any way. If this is the case, I wanted to know exactly how the militia assembled if their identity is not known. Further, as a resident and tax payer of Dinwiddie County, I believe that the citizens should be afforded the same courtesies and access to information like with civil servants, such as policemen, national guard, etc. We should at least know the name of an individual in an organized militia to be able to address commendable actions as well as raise issues with any type of conduct.”

“I request that in the event that the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors or the Dinwiddie Law Enforcement Offices, choose to continue to support the existence of an unorganized militia within the County, that a priority be placed that contains a diverse representation of men and women from various ethnicities as well as ensuring the proper oversight and monitoring of activities throughout the community, as well as educating the community on the purpose, jurisdiction, and priority of the militia,” said Mrs. Jordan.

The issue was directed to the County Attorney, Tyler Southall. “So Mrs. Jordan thank you so much for your comments. We did put out a press release this afternoon that you may be interested in looking at. This group that refers to itself as the Dinwiddie Militia is not sponsored by the Dinwiddie County government. The Board did not vote to create it and furthermore I’ve provided an opinion in that press release. A county government does not have the power to create a militia. That is incumbent upon the Governor and the Attorney General of Virginia. I believe that you alluded at one point in your comments to who commanded the militia and it is my opinion that that is both the Governor and the Attorney General of Virginia under Title 44 have that power the way that I read it.”

County Administrator, Kevin Massengil, reiterated that the County is in no way associated with the militia.

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