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November 13, 2018

MINUTES OF THE BROOKNEAL TOWN COUNCIL

7:00 PM – The regular meeting of the Brookneal Town Council

The municipal government of the Town of Brookneal met with the following members present:
Phyllis Campbell, Mayor
James Nowlin, Vice Mayor
Barbara Laprade, Mark Wilkes (came in at 7:27 p.m.), Richard Adams, and Joseph B. David, Jr., Council Members
Richard Baldwin, Chief of Police
Russell Thurston, Town Manager
Mike Crews, Public Works Director
Bobbie Waller, Clerk/Treasurer
Absent: Robert Jean, Council Member

INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Upon motion by Barbara Laprade, seconded by Richard Adams, and unanimously carried,Council approved the agenda for the November 13, 2018, regular meeting of the Brookneal Town Council with the following additions: 1) Resolution for Phyllis Campbell 2) Resolution for Bob Jean

MINUTES

Upon motion by Richard Adams, seconded by James Nowlin, and unanimously carried, Council approved the minutes for the October 9, 2018 Town Council meeting.

TREASURER’S REPORT

Mayor Campbell asked that the November 2018 treasurer’s report be filed for audit.

PRESENTATION AND APPROVAL OF INVOICES

Be it resolved that motion was made by James Nowlin, seconded by Joseph David and unanimously carried, authorizing the payment of the invoices for the period of October 10, 2018 to November 13, 2018, in the amount of $19,399.12.

PUBLIC COMMENT

• Whitaker Johnston, Attorney representing DRV Construction 

Mr. Whitaker Johnston, representing DRV Construction, appeared before Council concerning the Town real estate taxes for the River Ridge Apartments property. He said his office made a mistake by not prorating the Town real estate taxes to the date of sale. He said they did the closing for DRV Construction on the apartment complex. He said the mistake is simply a fall out from not knowing that there were Town taxes on the property. He said he is here to respond to the letter sent to DRV Construction by the Town concerning the taxes. He said he wanted to give some assurance that the Town will be well “healed” from this oversight. He said the oversight was just under $4,000; he said he was not trying to diminish that. He said the construction workers are motivated and excited about this project. He said that DRV was the only bidder on the property; they bid $100 over the USDA reserve bid of $283,000. He said had they not bought the property, it would have gone back to USDA and sit there for a while longer. He said that DRV is investing $360,000 in the renovation. He said the people that will rent those apartments will be eating locally and shopping locally adding money back to the local economy with other taxes associated with that. He said that he is asking for some forgiveness, and he is asking to address the issue at hand so that it can be resolved one way or the other.

Town Manager Russell Thurston said that Finance and Planning Committee Chairperson Richard Adams might ask Council that the Finance Committee discuss the matter among their members, meet, discuss and evaluate the merits of the request and provide a response. Councilperson Adams agreed with Mr. Thurston’s statement. He said that his concern is that these taxes have been outstanding since 2016, and an attorney is supposed to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed in the course of closing on real estate. Mr. Adams said his committee will meet and discuss this matter.

Councilperson David suggested not acting quickly with a total forgiveness right now, but perhaps putting a lien on the property until the apartments are finished and in operation. He said that if something happens and the apartments are sold and not finished, then the Town has just thrown away this money. Mr. Adams agreed, but he added that the budget is based on tax revenues that are expected from existing businesses here in the Town; they are not based onwhat may come down the road. He said for 2 years they have been based on the tax revenues of what should have been received from the owners of this property. Mr. Adams said his committee would meet and look at the options available and get back in touch with Mr. Johnston.

• Justin Bomar, Brookneal Dixie Girls

Mr. Justin Bomar, of the Brookneal Dixie Girls, came before Council to present more bids on the ballpark fence project previously discussed at the October Council meeting. He said they received 3 bids on the fencing project, but requested a total of 5. He presented copies of the 3 bids. He said Garber-Lowe was the first bid received at $9,371.00, RR Mann Fencing bid was $27,256 and Lynchburg Fence bid was $18,945. Mayor Campbell referred this to the finance committee for discussion.

POLICE REPORT

Police Chief Richard Baldwin presented the police report for October 2018. He said of the 42 calls for service, 35 were answered by the Brookneal Police Department.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT

Mike Crews, Public Works Director, said that the contractor is working on the sewer line project on Falling River Hill, but the weather has not been cooperating with them. He said that Hurricane Michael did a lot of damage in the town with a lot of trees being down and damage to a power line that goes to Falling River Lagoon.

TOWN MANAGER REPORT

Town Manager Russell Thurston said he has been communicating with Cindy Bomar at USDA regarding the process for purchasing a new garbage truck. He said the Christmas parade is December 6 at 7 p.m.; he said he is working on the permits for that now. He said he is working on the renewal of the buzzard permit.

He said that the County dinner is going to be on November 20, 2018 at 6 p.m. at the historic courthouse building in Rustburg. He said anyone going needs to let Ms. Waller know by tomorrow. He also announced that the reception for Mayor Campbell will be on December 13 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Brookneal Community Building.

He also gave the Council some information concerning a Facebook post by Tracy Meisenbach that she is engaging in activities to disband the Town of Brookneal. He wanted the Council to be aware of this. He said the post is full of misinformation. He cited one thing concerning a statement that “they” will petition and have Campbell County appoint a committee to oversee the process of disbanding the Town. Mr. Thurston said that Campbell County has no authority to disband the Town; the Town has its own charter and is its own political subdivision of the Commonwealth on equal footing with any other county, city, or town. He said the only people that can begin a conversation concerning disbanding the town is the Brookneal Town Council.

INVOICE FROM TOWN ATTORNEY FRANK WRIGHT

Town Manager Thurston told the Council about an invoice that the Town received from Frank Wright. Mr. Thurston said that he was accused by Ms. Meisenbach of stealing gas from the town, and putting it in his personal vehicle which he said is not true. He said he was putting gas in the town Dodge pickup which she thought was his personal vehicle. He said she called some people on the Town Council and threatened that he should be terminated within 30 days. He said she called the Town attorney to ask for an investigation. He said she told Frank Wright that if there was no investigation, she would call the state police to have Mr. Thurston investigated. He said Mr. Wright contacted Mayor Campbell about this matter when he got the information. He said that Mayor Campbell told Mr. Wright that the Town would not be paying any charges incurred by Ms. Meisenbach because she entered into an agreement seeking his legal counsel for an issue which she presented to him with no authorization from the Town. He said she was acting as a client of Frank Wright and not as an agent of the Town. He said he would contact Mr. Wright indicating that the Town would not pay this invoice, and that Mr. Wright needed to send that invoice to his client Tracy Meisenbach.

RESOLUTION OF APPRECIATION FOR RETIRING MAYOR PHYLLIS CAMPBELL

Upon motion by Vice Mayor James Nowlin, the Council voted to have Mr. Thurston write a resolution of appreciation in honor of our Mayor Campbell to be presented to her in December 2018. The motion received a second from Richard Adams, and was unanimously carried.

RESOLUTION OF APPRECIATION FOR RETIRING COUNCILPERSON ROBERT JEAN

Upon motion by Vice Mayor James Nowlin, the Council voted to have Mr. Thurston write a resolution of appreciation in honor of Council member Robert Jean to be presented to him in December 2018. The motion received a second from Mark Wilkes, and was unanimously carried.

CHRISTMAS BONUS FOR THE TOWN EMPLOYEES

Upon motion by Richard Adams, seconded by Joseph David, and unanimously carried, the Council authorized a Christmas bonus for $300 net to all eligible Town employees.

ITEMS FROM TOWN COUNCIL

Councilperson David wanted to encourage Debra Ferrell from the Union Star newspaper to do a write up on this Facebook page that was referenced by Mr. Thurston earlier.

Councilperson Laprade told Council that she had talked with Katie Conner with Virginia Tourism, and she found out that the tobacco commission provides grants and may be a possible source of funding for the feasibility study for the Brookneal motel project. She said that she was going to try to get a meeting together with Ms. Conner in the near future. She said according to the tobacco commission, $136,523 in funds is available for Campbell County. Mr. Adams noted that there used to be a pre-requisite for this money to employ a minimum amount of people. Ms. Laprade said she was going to get with Mr. Thurston about applying for this money.

Ms. Waller asked if the Finance and Planning Committee could go ahead and set a date to meet to discuss two issues that have been recommended to them. They chose to meet November 28, 2018 at 9 a.m.

ADJOURNMENT

Upon motion by Mark Wilkes, seconded by Joseph David, and unanimously carried, Mayor Campbell announced that November 13, 2018 Council meeting was adjourned.

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