Local races on writers' minds

Hill deserves reelection

The residents of Nelson County are strongly encouraged to reelect David Hill as sheriff of Nelson County. This recommendation is based upon close and frequent observations of Sheriff Hill by me dating back to his election in November 2015.

A defining mark of an outstanding law enforcement officer is one who places emphasis on protecting the safety of the public. The best ways to achieve this objective is “crime prevention.” Sheriff Hill has both arrows in his quiver.

All of us know “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As a case in point, Sheriff Hill and several of his deputies were active participants in a two-year effort in developing a PowerPoint presentation entitled “You and the Law.” The intent of the project was to develop a program to educate students on appropriate and inappropriate behavior, i.e., “The Dos and Don’ts” when stopped by law enforcement officers.

Roll-out of the program in the Nelson County Public School System occurred in September 2017. The presentation was integrated into the Drivers’ Ed program in the high school. Others serving on the project development team were the superintendent of the county school system, principals of the high and niddle schools, the Virginia State Police and this writer who represented SALT-Triad.

Sheriff Hill knows the value of having a law enforcement officer occasionally stop by a senior’s house sends a signal to those looking for easy prey. That is why Sheriff Hill and his deputies are continuing with the precedent set by former Sheriff Gary Brantley of installing in the homes of seniors Personal Emergency Dialer telephones provided by SALT-Triad.



Harding for Virginia Senate

For those of us, and there are a lot of us, who have been frustrated by Sen. Creigh Deeds’s refusal to support the resistance to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, here’s some good news — we have an alternative.

Elliott Harding has put opposition to the ACP at the top of his campaign agenda. That alone should be enough to get your vote if you’re part of that resistance. But he also favors other things important to so many of us: prohibiting public-utility campaign financing, diminishing Dominion’s influence in Richmond, ending crony capitalism and stopping taxpayer-funded subsidies to corporations. For those who care, he also advocates for justice system reform and legalization of marijuana.

Deeds thinks so little of our struggle that, in his recent mailing, he didn’t include the ACP as among the four top concerns of his constituents, which is a grievous insult. Nor will you find a thing about this key issue on his website. Deeds can no longer pretend to care about the people he supposedly represents.

This is not a partisan choice. Harding is running as an independent, which means he has no access to party money and can afford little advertising. But we can prove that a principled underdog can win. I urge you to vote Deeds out and Harding in. Your vote for him is a resounding “No!” on the ACP and Deeds-supported, Dominion-dominated business as usual in Richmond.



Barton for county supervisor

I write to support the candidacy of Robert “Skip” Barton for South District supervisor of Nelson County. I am a 2007 graduate of Nelson County High School, and he was my teacher for humanities and Afro-American Studies.

I first met him as an elementary school student. I would come to the high school to wait for my grandfather, Will T. Bell. He and my grandfather were very good friends. I would make trips to his classroom to visit him. I know Barton to be a caring and honorable person. He truly cares for the people of Nelson County and especially his students. He is the reason why I believe today in the importance of education.

Barton will serve well the people of the South District. I cannot think of a better person to represent me and my family.



Send Hickey to Richmond

If you want a delegate who will represent us in Richmond without bias — one who hasn’t accepted contributions from big corporations — then vote for Tim Hickey.

As the Delegate for the 59th District in the House of Delegates, he will offer something that is rare among politicians — accessibility. He has already held numerous meetings in Nelson where residents have had the opportunity to discuss their concerns. He does not just “hear” people; he is an active listener! His answers to questions are thoughtful, respectful and insightful. If you want someone who is fully engaged with the people of Nelson County, there is only one choice. His name is spelled:

T — trusted citizen, educator, and family man.

I — informed about local, state, and national issues that affect us.

M — motivated to serve us in Richmond.

H — has already met with Nelson citizens, and promises to continue doing so after elected.

I — insightful, interesting, and on-going dialogue with citizens.

C — comes with a desire to serve the public.

K — knows the issues.

E — engages with voters

Y — Yes! I will vote for Tim Hickey!



Jones for sheriff and a change

I attended the candidates’ forum sponsored by the Nelson County Home Builders Association the other week with particular interest in the sheriff’s race.

When a question was asked about law enforcement patrols on Virginia 151 in the North District, Sheriff David Hill again cited the high number of transports as a drain on resources for patrol and reminded attendees that traffic assignments are not the main function of our sheriff’s department. He also made a sarcastic remark suggesting that residents in the North District should not expect “to pass a deputy every five minutes.”

I found this disappointing, but even more disturbing, was his suggestion that our breweries and wineries are patronized by professionals who are responsible drinkers, implying that resident safety concerns are overblown. Those of us who drive this road would argue otherwise.

The Virginia Sheriffs Association estimates a 14 percent turnover statewide for sheriffs’ departments. At the time Sheriff Hill submitted his latest budget, his department staffing level was about 73 percent (sworn and unsworn positions). This number is significantly lower than surrounding counties all at, or above, 90 percent. Sheriff Hill has lost 25 of 42 sworn hires. Six unsworn positions were also vacated during his time in office, and one sworn hire is currently on administrative leave. These numbers are much higher than the state average. When the question regarding this high turnover was raised at the forum, Sheriff Hill gave a lengthy explanation about the possible reasons for departures, citing the high standards he sets for morality and honesty on his team.

Analysts in the public safety sector cite pay as one reason for departures (a problem now solved according to Sheriff Hill), but also rate poor leadership as a significant factor in turnover within this sector. Leadership training for all supervisors is top on the list of recommendations for retention plans. Analysts also state that high turnover can wreak havoc on department budgets, estimating the costs to be equal to half the yearly pay of an exiting employee. Included in these costs are tangibles like hiring and screening, training and equipment and overtime pay/comp days resulting from short staff. Also included are intangibles like loss in productivity and efficiency due to lower morale among remaining staff when high turnover occurs, as well as negative public relations. Staff retention translates to dollars saved, and Nelson residents are right to question high turnover in our sheriff’s department. His budget is supported by our tax dollars.

I was dismayed that Sheriff Hill did not acknowledge that he is partially responsible for the high turnover and he made no mention of a retention plan if he is reelected. I’ll be voting for change on Nov. 5 and am supporting Daniel Jones.



A terrific 50th class reunion

The Nelson County High School Class of 1969 celebrated its 50th Class reunion Sept. 28 at Wood Ridge Farm Brewery. Over 70 classmates and family enjoyed reconnecting and renewing old friendships.

The Class of ’69 had The Camille Fund as a class project. This was particularly significant to all of the class because two classmates were lost in the flood, Johanna Raines and Donna Wood. As a result of several county businesses donating to the silent auction, the selling of mugs and generous donations of classmates, we were not only able to meet our commitment of $500 to The Camille Fund, but were able to donate $770 to the fund as well as make a $500 donation to the Nelson County Education Foundation.

A special thanks to our classmates for generously supporting the silent auction, and purchasing mugs.

We also want to thank the following businesses for their donations of gift cards, rounds of golf, merchandise and/or complimentary tickets: TBC, Wintergreen Resort, Winton Farm, Old Trail Golf Club, Devil’s Backbone, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Blue Mountain Brewery, John and Betty White, Dairy Isle, Colleen Feed and Seed, Poplar Grove Golf Course, Drumheller’s Orchard, Saunders Brothers, London Downs, Virginia Distillery, Silverback Distillery and Wood Ridge Farm Brewery. We appreciate the generosity of many in helping us meet our goal.

Looking forward to our 55th.



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