By Carol Vaughn —
Accomack County is set to receive $705,000 over 18 years as part of a nationwide settlement by defendants in ongoing opioid litigation.
The Accomack County Board of Supervisors at its Oct. 20 meeting approved a resolution authorizing settlement of claims agains three opioid distributors and one manufacturer.
The board also voted to set Accomack’s legislative priorities for the 2021-2022 General Assembly session.
Supervisors followed County Administrator Mike Mason’s recommendation to keep teacher salaries and retention efforts as the county’s top priority.
Accomack County Public Schools this year received one-time funding of around $1.6 million from the commonwealth to support teacher recruitment and retention.
The money enabled the school district to complete a teacher salary scale study and comparison in order to address inequities in the pay scale, in a step towards making salaries more competitive with those in surrounding areas.
The county wants to see those funds made permanent or the school district selected to receive a state cost of competing adjustment.
Second on the list is to improve child care availability with help from additional state funding.
Third is to support efforts by Chincoteague to establish additional drinking water wells at locations off Wallops Flight Facility property.
Fourth is wastewater treatment improvement initiatives, including creating an avenue for funding to retire Onancock’s debt for its wastewater treatment plant.
“It is the county’s understanding that funding is currently buried deep in DEQ’s budget to eliminate the town’s debt but until the debt is actuallhy retired, this remains a priority,” the item reads, in part. The Eastern Shore Sewer Force Main project can not move forward without this step, according to the list.
Fifth on the list is broadband, including an assertion that VATI program guidelines governing challenges from wireless internet service providers who seek to block VATI applications need to be amended “to include a more rigorous review of their service level claims in areas targeted for VATI funds.”
County officials also want VATI grant eligibility to be changed so the Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority would be able to apply for grants without private sector involvement.
Finally, the county wants the General Assembly to provide for funding to increase the width of Route 175, to address a maintenance issue at the foot of the Chincoteague bridge, and to study inundation impacts to Route 175, as Chincoteague and the county requested in May 2019.
On Monday, Oct. 25, after a public hearing at which no one from the public spoke, the board approved an ordinance amendment related to changes in election districts and precincts.
The county is required to review and reapportion representation after each U.S. census.
Results of the 2020 census showed changes were needed to ensure relatively equal populations in each district.
The district lines also must be drawn so as to meet legal guidellines for minority majority districts.
The 2020 census showed white, non-Hispanic residents make up 59.3% of the county’s population and all minority groups combined make up 40.7%, with 25.9% being Black, 10.3% being Hispanic, 8.2% being another race, and 5.3% being two or more races.
Three minority majority districts, District 3, 5, and 9, are maintained or slightly strengthened with respect to minority population in the redistricting.
Among major changes from the current district boundaries is that District 1, which now includes only Chincoteague, will come to the mainland to take in area around NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
Parts of District 2 will shift to District 4, including Hallwood and some surrounding areas, or District 3, including additional areas around Hallwood and Temperanceville.
Areas on the west side of Route 136 towards Lee Mont will shift from District 4 to District 6.
An area on the north side of Onancock Creek which is not in District 7 will shift to District 6.
An area east of Route 13 and south of Onley and Locustville Road will shift from District 8 to District 7.
In precinct changes, part of the current Greenbackville precinct around Wattsville, in District 2, will be shifted to a closer Atlantic precinct voting location.
In District 4, part of the current Saxis precinct west of Hallwood will shift to the closer Bloxom precinct voting location.
Areas assigned to a new election district will be assigned to a precinct in that district.
The proposed districts, precincts, and poling places will be submitted to the Virginia Attorney General for review.
The changes will not take place until next year.