By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Salaries took a back seat to health insurance this year as the top concern for employees of Isle of Wight County schools, according to a recent study presented at this month’s School Board meeting.

Director of Human Resources Cheryl Elliot formed a committee of 18-20 employees from various departments and levels within the schools, who reported that monthly premiums, deductibles and “out of pocket” expenses in the division’s health insurance plan are too high. 

“Normally, from an HR perspective, I expected everybody to say ‘we want more money,’” said Elliot to the School Board Thursday, Feb. 9. “But actually, we concluded that the prevailing concern among committee members is our current health insurance benefits.”

Seventy percent of the division’s employees use its health insurance benefits, which is currently under Optima Health, according to Elliot. 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County cannot ban firearms from being brought into the courthouse complex.

That was the conclusion offered recently by Isle of Wight County attorney Mark Popovich when asked the question.

The Code of Virginia states that no locality can prohibit the public from bringing guns to a public building, such as the Robert C. Claud Sr. boardroom, unless it obtains permission from the state, Popovich said. 

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Loan would pay for CTE initiative

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors decided to further explore a request for a $10 million loan by the school system at an upcoming work session. 

The $10 million loan request to pay for substantial upgrades and a new Career and Technical Education program at the county’s two high schools was requested by schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton at Thursday’s board meeting.

The loan, which would have a 20-year term, would be paid back with a portion of the money now used to fund Isle of Wight’s participation at The Pruden Center for Industry and Technology in Suffolk, according to Thornton. 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Many Benn’s Grant houses have a lawn fixture — a satellite dish.

Some houses have two — one for internet and the other for cable television.

Although more than 90 housing contracts were written last year, Charter Communications has yet to provide service to the new neighborhood, located south of Smithfield on Route 10.

East West Communities Developer Branch Lawson said the latest word from Charter is that fiber is being laid and service is expected in two phases of the development by the first part of March.

Meanwhile, residents are finding ways to cope before the service begins. 

Shannon Jones wanted a satellite dish, but since she lives in a middle town house, that wasn’t going to happen.

The dish would have to go on the roof, and it was too tall for an employee to install, she said. 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County Tourism officials have decided to return the Smithfield Christmas parade to the traditional second Saturday in December.

The parade will again be paired with the annual Kiwanis Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 9.

The Christmas Evening Market will be held the night before the parade, Dec. 8, from 6-9 p.m.

The return to the traditional schedule for the parade comes after two years of shifting December holiday events and schedules that, at times, had resulted in traffic snarls and general confusion. 

Tourism has applied for those dates through the Smithfield Special Events Committee, according to Judy Winslow, director of tourism for Isle of Wight County.

Once approved by the committee, the schedule goes to the Smithfield Town Council for final approval.  

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Owner wants to demolish house

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

The historic but deteriorating Pierceville manor house and outbuildings, some of the oldest buildings in the town of Smithfield, have inched closer to possible demolition by their owner.

Mary Delk Crocker filed an application to tear down her circa-1730s manor house and its outbuildings located on the Pierceville Farm, which are considered “landmark historic structures” in the town. Her application will go before the Board of Historic and Architectural Review (BHAR) for consideration with a public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Whether or not BHAR approves Crocker’s application after the public hearing, it will proceed to the Smithfield Town Council for review, according to Town Attorney Bill Riddick.   

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Projects to cost a total of $18 million

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

It was a whirlwind of a week for Isle of Wight County Schools as Smithfield Foods announced a $3 million donation to Smithfield High School and school administrators unveiled plans for new buildings and an influx of career and technical education programs at its high schools.

The $3 million “Smithfield Foods Legacy Project” was revealed Thursday by Foods CEO Kenneth Sullivan and will fund three new building projects at Smithfield High, including a JROTC fieldhouse, a Makerspace and a multi-use pavilion modeled in part after The Smithfield Center.

But the surprises didn’t end there. Administrators used the opportunity to announce the division’s plans to introduce renovations to the school’s cafeteria and media center, and the construction of a collaborative space and an exercise room in the high school’s main building.

 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

A Windsor Police officer was injured after a Suffolk man allegedly rammed the officer as he was getting out of his car to make a traffic stop.

The officer, C.J. Griffin, was released from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Thursday morning. He suffered multiple contusions on his legs, according to Windsor Police Chief R.D. Riddle.

Raydrin Alexander Smith, 26, of the 100 block of Nancy Drive in Suffolk, was charged with two counts of property damage, one count of felony elude and one count of attempted capital murder of a police officer. 

The incident occurred at 6:33 p.m. on Feb. 1 as the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of the Windsor Police Department, were conducting a narcotics operation in the town of Windsor.

Lt. James Pope with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office said the officers were looking for a specific vehicle, but declined to comment further on the operation.

During the operation, which was taking place at in the parking lot of Windsor Food and Gas on Windsor Boulevard, a Windsor Police officer pulled up to the suspect vehicle, with his lights activated, to conduct a traffic stop, according to Pope.

The Windsor officer pulled his vehicle behind the suspect’s car, and at the same time, a sheriff’s deputy pulled up in front of the suspect’s car and inadvertently hit the suspect’s front bumper, Pope said.

In response, the suspect shifted into reverse and hit the gas pumps, causing large flames, Pope said.

The suspect then shifted forward and that’s when he hit the Windsor officer’s car and the officer, Pope said.

The suspect drove off and led deputies and the Windsor police on a pursuit that ended in the parking lot of Southern States, also on Windsor Boulevard.

The suspect remains in custody without bond in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail.  

 

 

 

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

An addiction treatment center is coming to the long vacant Airway Shopping Center in Carrsville.

The Affinity Healthcare Group plans to open an outpatient opioid treatment center this spring, said Affinity President Ron Martin.

The health care group already has a clinic that has been operating in Newport News for the past year.

Martin said the building’s zoning already allowed for a medical use so it didn’t need to get approval from Isle of Wight County officials, such as the Board of Supervisors. The facility, however, is heavily regulated by various federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Martin said. 

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Edna Felts Myers

 

Edna Felts Myers, 96, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 in her home. She is preceded in death by her husband, Luther Power Myers. Edna leaves to cherish her memories her son, Robert Hall. A graveside service will be held Friday, Aug. 7, 11 a.m. in St. Luke’s Memorial Park with the Rev. Mike Frank officiating. A special thank you to Marilyn Oliver and Joe Brown for all their love and support. The family request memorial contributions to VFW POST 8545, PO Box 461, Smithfield, VA 23431.

Service arrangements are in the care of Colonial Funeral Home, Carrollton, Smithfield, Isle of Wight and the surrounding communities.  Family and friends are encouraged to share condolences and remembrances at colonialfuneralhomesmithfield.com.

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