The Accomack County Board of Supervisors conducted a town hall meeting on Thursday night to seek public input on how to spend over $3,138,000 in ARPA funding.
Shelley Strain of Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence requested assistance in the renovation of the old GF Horne building in Onancock to offer shelter for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Strain said there have been approximately 140 calls at the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Strain asked for $250,000 from the ARPA fund. John Fiege added that $1.7 million will be needed to rehabilitate the building and approximately half of that has been raised. Fiege requested $250,000.
Rick Willis of Chincoteague requested ARPA funding to provide broadband access to agricultural workers who come to work on the Shore. Willis said there are 12 agricultural camps and most are in areas with poor coverage. Willis asked for funding to provide hot spots to provide coverage to the camps. Willis said the Broadband Authority is currently completing estimates for service at the camps.
Susan Mastel of Harborton spoke on the continuing need for broadband expansion. Mastel said there are too many members of the community that are facing high installation costs asking
Mat Clay CEO of Eastern Shore Rural Health asked the Board for assistance to help Rural Health continue dental services in the schools and to expand the dental program to the Onley Community Health Center. The cost of the units to do that would extend Rural Health’s ability to serve the dental needs of Accomack County.
Supervisor Robert Crockett said that three dentists have been lost in the county and he need to have staff to come up with a dollar amount.
Supervisor Hart agreed with the dental request and also asked that the County consider helping those without broadband access as well. Hart said everyone who spoke tonight had good ideas and we should consider their requests.
Supervisor Wolff agreed but added that what broadband doesn’t tell the public that the public can install the wiring themselves. Wolff stated he did this for his house by renting a trencher and running the wire himself. His cost went from $1500 down to just over $100.
Supervisor Major, who works in social services, said she knows that the needs of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence are real. Major said she was a little disappointed that more people did not attend the meeting. She also approved helping Rural Health with the dental project.
Supervisor Harris Phillips said that he thought the Broadband Authority should take a look at the cost of installing Broadband.
Next there was a Public Hearing to amend the county code to allow the county to collect the cigarette tax which would be $1 per carton.
The owner of Dixieland JR Pikulski assured the numbers he submitted reflecting cigarette sales were accurate and, according to those numbers, there was the opportunity for collecting $1 per carton for an estimated 820,000 cartons almost doubling the anticipated revenues.
Also the Board also voted to approve the cigarette tax and to approve county joining the Chesapeake Bay Cigarette Board as required by the state.
The Board approved the transfer of unused waterway maintenance funds for Wachapreague and Quinby to Northampton County for use at the Kings Creek dredging project.
Chairman Billy Joe Tarr reported that it was discussed with the leadership of the School Board to have an in depth analysis of the condition of the old Accomac Elementary School with the cost split between the two entities. The cost estimate is not yet available and will be presented at a later meeting. The Board voted to approve entering into an agreement with the School Board.