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Supervisors appoint new library board, discuss comp plan

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By John Barnhart

    The Bedford County Board of Supervisors regular meeting, Monday night, consisted of a series of housekeeping measures related to Bedford's reversion to town status.
    Under the reversion agreement, Bedford County purchased Bedford Elementary School and the Bedford Central Library. It also acquired the former city's interest in the Bedford Welcome Center. The vote the supervisors took was to authorize the board's chairman to sign these deeds.
    They also voted to approve the lease of Bedford Middle School. Under the reversion agreement, the county is obligated to build a new middle school in the Liberty Attendance Zone to replace Bedford Middle School. The old building is not large enough to accomodate the attendance zone's sixth graders and currently only sixth graders from Beford Elementary School go there. The rest of the sixth graders in the attendance zone are still at their base elementary schools.
    Until the new middle school is completed, Bedford County Public Schools will lease Bedford Middle School from the Town of Bedford. The agreement calls for the lease payments to begin escalating if there are delays in building the new middle school.
    Another item related to the reversion was the appointment of a board of trustees for the Bedford Public Library.
    A new library board is needed because the county was in partnership with the City of Bedford in a regional library under a contract with the city. The City of Bedford no longer exists.
    The previous library board consisted of five people, but the new one will have seven members, corresponding to the county's seven districts. The supervisors voted to appoint Ellen Wandrei, Elizabeth Walker, Penny Carter, Pam Willoughby, Mary Jo Krufka and Jan Markham to the board.
    Library board members will serve for four years, normally, but as this is a new board, some were appointed to shorter terms so that all members won't be up for reappointment in the same year. Wandrei and Walker were appointed to two year terms, Carter and Willoughby were appointed for three years and Krufka and Markham were appointed to full terms.
    Appointment of a seventh member was deferred until the next meeting so that District 2 Supervisor Roger Cheek can make an appointment. Cheek, who rarely misses a meeting, was absent Monday night due to an illness.
    In other business, the supervisors voted to appropriate $250,000 to help the Bedford Volunteer Fire Department buy a replacement for it's heavy rescue truck. Bedford Fire Chief Brad Creasy had requested this amount, during the budget development process, to help them pay the new truck's $650,000 price tag.
    "They do serve a large part of the county," noted District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard.
    During a work session that preceded the meeting, the Supervisors discussed the county's comprehensive plan. State law requires every locality to have a comprehensive plan and review it every five years. The current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2007.
    The planning commission is already in the process of reviewing the plan. The process they embarked on will be a review, and possible adjustment, rather than the complete rewrite that was done in 2007.
    According to District 4 Supervisor John Sharp, the supervisors hope to have an open dialogue with the planning commission during this process to avoid the conflicts they had in the past few years.
    The planning omission had a major make-over after the 2011 board of supervisors election. Two planning commission members, Steve Stevick and Lynn Barnes, resigned in protest over the supervisors rejection of  new zoning ordinance that the planning commission had developed. One member, Curtis Stevens, resigned so that Tammy Parker, the newly elected District 7 supervisor could make her own appointment. Another, Rick Crockett, was not reappointed when his term expired.
    As the review process proceeds, a 14-member citizens advisory committee will be appointed to act as a sounding board for the planning commission. The planning commission will present the revised 15-chapter comprehensive plan  to the committee in three five-chapter segments with enough time for committee members to read them prior to meeting with the planning commission to discuss them.
    This advisory committee will begin meeting with the planning commission in the fall. No appointments have yet been made to this committee and the criteria for appointments to the committee has not yet been established..