In front of a standing room only crowd, The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors voted in Monday nights monthly meeting to adopt Mecklenburg County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The meeting had to be moved to the old courtroom above the Mecklenburg County library due to the anticipated turnout of citizens in favor of the resolution. The turnout was as expected, with Deputies from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office on hand to make sure they did not exceed the capacity for the room. The capacity of 200 was quickly filled, with many more people standing in the hallway and outside of the building. Those that were there to support the resolution stood in applause after the resolution passed. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Bobby Hawkins spoke to the Board after the vote to express his thanks to them and to those that turned out in support. “I appreciate everyone being here tonight.” Sheriff Hawkins said. He went on the express his thanks to the board, “It was a well written document, it shows the sense that the board has and the feelings of the people here in the county.” Hawkins said.
The legislative committee for the Board of Supervisors met last week and voted 3-1 to recommend approval of the Second Amendment sanctuary resolution. Members Gordon, Jennings and Hargrove voted in favor of the resolution and board member Claudia Lundy voted against. The resolution was then brought in front of the entire board where it passed with all members voting in favor with the exception of Lundy again voting against it.
The resolution stated that “certain legislation introduced in the 2019 Virginia General Assembly, and certain legislation introduced in the current session of the United States Congress could have the effect of infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.” It went on to state that the board “expresses its intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Mecklenburg County and expresses its intent that public funds of the county not be used to unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights or to aid in the unconstitutional restriction of the rights under the Second Amendment of the citizens of Mecklenburg County to keep and bear arms.” The resolution also states that a copy “shall be forwarded by the County staff to the Governor of Virginia, to Virginia legislators who represent Mecklenburg County, and to the Virginia Association of Counties.” Mecklenburg County now joins a growing list of Virginia counties voting to adopt resolutions making their county a Second Amendment sanctuary.
The Joint Education Committee met on Monday, November 25 and in that meeting the committee voted unanimously to move forward with the lowest bid for the consolidated middle/high school complex by Cleveland Construction Inc. in the amount of $124,950,000.00 for a total project cost of $152,380,000.00. The education committee then referred their recommendation to the Budget and Finance Committee. In that meeting the committee unanimously recommended to fully fund the combined middle/high school project for the total amount of $152,950,000.00. They also recommended for staff to proceed with an additional borrowing of $35,000,000.00 from the spring VPSA fund. After the reading of the outcomes of both the Joint Education Committee and Budget and Finance Committee, the Board voted to fully fund the middle/high school complex. In a roll call vote, the Board voted 8-1 to fully fund the new school. The lone member voting no was Jim Jennings. Jennings spoke at the end of the meeting to explain his decision. “It is not against the school.” Jennings started out saying. “It (the price) started out at 100 million dollars then 120 million dollars. Then nine months ago they stood in front of us and said that school was going to cost $270 a square foot then $370 a square foot and I just cant swallow that. Construction costs do not go up by cutting the light switch on. That is my explanation. Jennings said. “I am completely behind this high school and I have been from day one.” Board members Sterling Wilkinson and David Brankley also stated their reluctance to vote yes due to the way things happened. “I did vote for it, we have to move forward with it, but I am not happy with the way it happened.” Wilkinson stated. “I am disappointed in the price, but we need to go forward.” David Brankley said. The School Board still has to vote to make it official, but with the School Board already requesting the Board of Supervisors to fully fund the school, the vote by the Board is seemingly the last hurdle in the way of the ground breaking in the long awaited complex.
After the vote, the Board members discussed the 1 cent sales tax referendum that passed in Halifax in November. The tax can only be used for new school construction and debt service for the new facilities. For the sales tax referendum to be placed on the ballot, Mecklenburg’s state representatives must introduce legislation in the Virginia General Assembly to amend state law to allow the referendum to be placed on the ballot. The Board passed a resolution that showed their support for the 1 cent sales tax and that they wish to have the representatives introduce legislation in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. Members of the Board, as well as Superintendent of Mecklenburg County Public Schools said that getting the referendum on the ballot in Mecklenburg is an uphill battle, but they are hopeful that they can get it passed.
Robin Jones gave the Board a report on the audit for fiscal year 2019. Her review revealed that the County had a clean audit, no material weaknesses, no significant deficiencies and no non compliance areas. The county is considered low risk. County Administrator Wayne Carter stated that he was very pleased with the results and with everyone who helped achieve this result.
The Board voted on a resolution to purchase the property located near the Trading Post to place a convenience center for residents in that area to have one closer to them. The resolution passed unanimously. The Board also passed a resolution, by-laws, program design and income plan for the Quail Hollow Housing Rehab Project documents.
Mr. George Sizemore was presented a resolution from the Board of Supervisors by member Andy Hargrove. Mr. Sizemore was honored for turning 100 years old in November, and for his longtime contributions to his country and Mecklenburg County. Sizemore is a native son of Mecklenburg County, served in the Army during World War II from 1942-1946, and has been a Deacon at Wharton Memorial Church for 70 years where he is a Sunday School teacher and still sings in the choir. On behalf of the school board we do appreciate your support. We are very thankful. December 20, at 2:00 p.m. Starting in January we will begin in the construction phase. The building is only as good as whats taking place inside of it. This is a huge step forward for education and children and the future for our youth but for development in the county with the construction of the new school.
Outgoing Board members Dan Tanner and Gregg Gordon were honored by the Board with resolutions for their time serving the Board of Supervisors. Both Tanner and Gordon spoke to those in attendance as well as their fellow Board members about their time on the Board. Tanner started off praising the citizens that attended the meeting in support of the Second Amendment resolution. He said that it “was one of the most civil functions before the board in a long time.” He went on to say that he was “proud to see Mecklenburg County act like that.” Board members Jennings, Spain and Brankley also stated how proud they were of those in attendance for their calm demeanor in joining together to support the resolution.
Tanner spoke about a lot of the things that have been accomplished since he joined the Board of Supervisors in 1999. He spoke of the schools, courthouse, regional jail and all of the other things built in Mecklenburg that have helped them grow. He praised the Board and the County for always being forward thinking.
Gregg Gordon spoke about how thankful he is to his constituents and the Board for their support how important they were to him during his time on the board. He said that the Board is “finally at a place where we can see the other side of the mountain.” referencing the years long battle to construct the middle/high school complex. Gordon went on to say that they are in a place where they can do some good.
Concluding the meeting, Chairman Glenn Barbour said that he wanted Gregg Gordon and Dan Tanner’s constituents as well as the rest of Mecklenburg County to know how important they have been. Barbour said they were very dedicated and always kept their “fingers on the pulse of the county.” He concluded by saying that Gordon and Tanner have served with distinction and that they wish them well.