Church expansion approved

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By John Barnhart

A Lake area church got the approval to build a new church facility on Hendricks Store Road.

Troy Keaton, EastLake Community Church's pastor, said that the church had been planted in the Moneta area by a Roanoke church. At the time, the church acquired an existing building on Va. 122 and renovated it, knowing that they would outgrow it. That has now happened and that's why the church wants to build a 21,875 square foot facility.

The request had to go before the planning commission and board of supervisors because the zoning of the 10-acre piece of land on which the church wants to build requires that religious assemblies obtain a special use permit before building. The planning commission had unanimously recommended the special use permit.

The supervisors also unanimously approved the permit with District 4 Supervisor John Sharp apologizing that Keaton even had to go through the special use permit process.

Monday's supervisors meeting, the last one before the end of the current fiscal year, also included a consent agenda with 21 items, including 16 separate supplemental appropriations. Departments requesting supplemental appropriations have received money from various sources that exceeded the amount they budgeted. The money has to be spent for specific purposes.

Board Chairman Steve Arrington noted the large number. He said that there were more than he had ever seen before.

The supervisors also dealt with a school request to transfer $850,000 from the textbook fund to the operating fund. Dr. James Blevins, superintendent of schools, said that the school system waited until the end of the fiscal year to make sure that the amount it requested was no more than necessary.

Blevins said that this transfer does not put the textbook fund in jeopardy because the state has extended the textbook adoption cycle. What is in jeopardy is the school division's ability to fuel its school buses. The school division currently has a contract that provides diesel fuel at $2.27 per gallon, but that contract will shortly run out. Part of the reason for the fund transfer request is to make sure that all the school division's storage tanks get filled at that price.

Another reason is that there has been a shortfall in the amount of state sales tax money that the school division received from the Commonwealth. This is allocated on a statewide basis and County Administrator Kathleen Guzi noted that sales tax collections in Bedford County don't reflect the state as a whole. In Bedford County, sales tax receipts are up.

Fuel costs are a county-wide concern. One of the supplemental requests in the consent agenda was from the Sheriff's Office. The BCSO received $32,000 more in fines and forfeitures than it had anticipated for the year and wants to apply this to pay for gasoline. Guzi said that the entire county is looking for ways to save gas.