- Approved request of letter of support for funding application for abandoning well;
- Postponed decision on borrowing for new school;
- Approved new Freon recycling agreement (for reduced price);
- Approved brokerage commission for new post office lease;
- Heard from Fire Chief Opett and County administrator Hathaway on the COVID-19 emergency;
- Approved an ordinance to allow electronic meetings;
At 9 am on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the NKC Board of Supervisors held their regularly scheduled work session. To facilitate transparency and citizen access, the session was live-streamed on Facebook; the stream was generated from a handheld camera from the from row of the gallery in the boardroom, giving a very realistic experience for the viewer. The feed from the ceiling-mounted cameras was posted to YouTube as a replay immediately after the adjournment of the meeting.
The two key items were the borrowing of $37 million for the new elementary school and reports on the county’s emergency response and planning for the Coronavirus pandemic.
Abandonment of Legends Well: As the county is consolidating the many separate water systems, certain wells are no longer needed. The Legends Well in the Colonial Downs water system is one of them; additionally, the water from this well has an excessive amount of naturally-occurring fluoride. There is a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that provides loans and grants to help insure safe drinking water. The BoS approved a letter of support to an application for a grant of $45,000 to pay for the safe abandonment of the Legends Well.
Funding for New School: After a long discussion, the decision on borrowing for the construction of the new school was tabled until the April 13 regular business meeting.
CFC (Freon) Recycling: The BoS approved a five-year renewal agreement for the collection and recycling of CFC/HCFC (Freon); the fee will be reduced from $15 to $10.
New Post Office: The BoS approved the payment of a 4% commission ($36,000) to Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage, Inc for broker services related to the lease of the New Kent Post Office Construction project. This is considered the customary rate.
Fire Chief Opett reported on the COVID-19 emergency:
When a local emergency was declared on 15 March, the county established a virtual emergency operations center. They are communicating daily with the state, regional and local authorities, including our neighboring counties to the east and west. A leadership task force is meeting daily at 3pm. There is a unified command, lead by Chief Opett and Sheriff McLaughlin. They are making long-term plans for this event as it is not clear when the end will come. They have activated emergency support functions for: Communications, Fire and EMS, Planning, Mass care, Logistics, Public health, Public safety and security, Business and infrastructure, External affairs and Donation/Volunteer management. Activities include:
- Working with school and private entities to get WiFi hot spots all around the county.
- Dispatchers are screening 911 calls with additional questions aimed at protecting personnel.
- Fire and EMS staff are prepared for the long haul; matching CDC recommendations.
- New policy to reduce personnel exposure time – field triage before deploying multiple people.
- Preparing for a surge of activity (worst case scenario); next 3 or 4 weeks could be very challenging.
- Increased decontamination procedures for personnel and equipment (incl. Ambulances).
- Screening all EMS Staff 3 times a day; making sure they are healthy.
- In the past 7 days: 44 EMS calls, six were medium- to high-risk, based on reported symptoms.
- Planning for the long haul: emergency meals, senior welfare, working with churches to check on the elderly, working on a recovery plan.
- Planning for the worst in the short-, mid- and long-term; tornado season is upon us and hurricane season is coming.
- Working with the commonwealth to plan for mass care during a surge in cases; tent hospitals, etc.
- Monitoring inventory and use rate of PPE, received shipment from national stockpile, donation from Colonial Downs.
- Purchased 1000 emergency meals.
- No cases in NKC, but keeping in touch with local health professionals daily.
- Working with EDA and Chamber of Commerce to reach out to small businesses re: SBA loans.
- Working to counter false info; guiding people to county website; help lines available; rumor control; monitoring social media.
- Volunteer and donation management; established “NKC COVID-19 HELP” – a clearinghouse for those offering or needing help: call 804-966-1853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
County Administrator Rodney Hathaway reported that the county administration building is closed to the public, but staff are still on duty and the county is still operating; collecting online payments; drop boxes in the parking lot for permit applications, payments, etc.; still conducting building inspections, environmental inspections; most operations continuing except for face-to-face interactions. Staff instructed to stay home if experiencing any symptoms; requiring self quarantine for 14 days if exposed, if spouse exposed or if traveled out of the county.
Electronic Meetings: Finally, the BoS passed an ordinance allowing them to meet electronically over the Internet (via GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc.), if needed.