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Public hearing scheduled on electoral district map

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By John Barnhart

    The Bedford County Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 Monday to schedule a public hearing on the proposed new electoral district map. District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard cast the lone dissenting vote
    “I guess I’m as unhappy with my district as anybody can be,” commented  Pollard.
    Pollard believes there are some areas, shifted into her district, that should be in District 1. She is also concerned that some people, who will be in the Shady Grove precinct, will have to drive between 16 to 18 miles to vote and may end up not voting. Finally, she objected to the new town of Bedford having two representatives on the board of supervisors. The map splits the town between Districts 6 and 7.
    Earlier, during the citizen comment period, Shirley McCabe, the former District 6 school board member, suggested an electoral map with eight districts. She told the supervisors that an eight member board can work well.
    “I had eight people on the [school] board for 16 years,” she said.
    In other business, the supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance allowing people to keep up to 18 chickens, but no roosters, in residential neighborhoods. Two people spoke during the public hearing preceding the vote.
    “To me I think somebody has lost his mind wanting a chicken in a subdivision,” said Ruby Wells Dooley. “It’s just completely crazy.”
    “I’m all in favor of this,” said John Briscoe. “I think it’s great.”
    Briscoe lives in an agricultural zone and has chickens.
    “They are just about as quiet and as harmless as can be,” he said.
    The supervisors, in passing the ordinance, removed a chicken coop size limitation and a minimum fence height requirement from the planning commission version of the ordinance.
    Discussion of the ordinance, while serious, did elicit a few cackles.
    “I’m looking forward to all those fried chicken dinners,” Pollard commented. Pollard suggested that many of the people who initially get backyard chickens will quickly tire of them.
    The supervisors also unanimously approved a request by the school board to move $600,000 left over from last year’s operating budget to the school division’s health insurance fund. The school board voted last year to shift to a self-funded health insurance program.
    “This will be very useful in offsetting premium increases in the future,” said Randy Hagler, the school division’s chief financial officer. Hagler said the school system will have a 5.5 percent hike in health insurance with the transfer. Without it, the increase would be between 12 percent and 14 percent.
    The supervisors voted 5-2 to table until May a decision to join Lynchburg in hiring a joint interim library director while an assessment is being done to see if there are any advantages to joining Bedford County, Lynchburg and Campbell County together in a regional library system. This was suggested because the current library directors for Bedford County and Lynchburg are both retiring on June 30. If both Bedford County and Lynchburg decided to join together in a regional library system, then this interim director would become the permanent director.
    “Unless you can show me significant cost savings, we won’t go there,” said District 4 Supervisor John Sharp. Sharp, however, voted against delaying the decision on whether to hire a joint interim library director because this would not obligate Bedford County to join a regional library system if the study doesn’t indicate cost savings. Sharp felt that waiting until May did not leave enough time to find an interim director.
    Board Chairman Steve Arrington, who also said he was willing to support joining a regional library if there are cost savings, joined Sharp in voting against the measure to table the joint interim director decision.