IOW leaders optimistic about future
Published 1:29 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015
While acknowledging existing challenges, the outlook for Isle of Wight County was overall positive as reported during the State of the County breakfast on Thursday. Hosted by the Isle of Wight-Smithfield-Windsor Chamber of Commerce, the presentation took place in the Smithfield Center.
“Despite what you hear and read, there are productive things happening every day,” said Delores “Dee Dee” Darden, vice chair for the Board of Supervisors. She added that just as businesses have to report to its stockholders, so too must Isle of Wight’s leaders answer to the public.
“You are the county’s stockholders,” Darden said.
Looking ahead, she pointed out that in terms of community and economic development, a $300,000 pad-ready site is being established in the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park in Windsor. To further encourage growth in the past year, a central site has been set up as a way to get permits more easily.
“Local roots, global reach,” the slogan seen on the county website, she said, “We think respects agriculture and also embraces business.”
As referenced earlier, Darden noted there’s still controversy going on, such as the Preferred Alternative Route 460 and the facility use agreement. But, she added, “one must be responsive to change.”
A new feature to the annual report was the use of video segments that showed not only various parts or the Isle of Wight, but also interviewed county personnel talking about aspects of their work and life in the county. County Administrator Anne Seward invited the public to get involved with where they live.
Afterword, Windsor Mayor Carita Richardson also spoke in person about the challenge of the potential northern bypass, and that if built, “would have a big impact on our businesses.” She also talked about the necessity to adapt should the road be constructed.
Richardson said the next few months will be transformative, as the mural project led by the Girls Scout of Troop 1105 comes to fruition. With the aid of regional artist Sam Welty and volunteers, two walls will be permanently illustrated with scenes of the town’s history from the past two centuries. The mayor said the community center’s renovations are progressing thanks to donations and a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation.
A second video presentation featured remarks from Town Manager Michael Stallings, who said he’d like to see the town grow, but still keep its small-town charm. In thinking about how to adapt if the new 460 is built, Stallings said, “I would like to see Windsor to develop a downtown if the bypass happens.”
Remarks from Smithfield Mayor and Town Manager were also presented respectively in the same way as Windsor.
After which, Denise Tynes, school board chair and a member of the Smithfield Town Council, said, “You can’t have a conversation about the future of the county without including schools.” She noted the personalized education that students receive, and praised Perera for her leadership in developing them as “21st-century learners,” and helping take the school division to “scale new heights.”
“I’m proud to boast the schools have gone from 41st place to 15th in a ranking of 100-plus schools in Virginia, and from ninth to fourth in Region II Schools,” Tynes said. “The on-time graduation rate has gone from 88 percent to 93 percent.”
Pointing to the medal she was wearing, Tynes said it represented the Virginia School Board of Distinction.
About Isle of Wight Schools, she said, “Believe in it, support it, love it.”
Old Point National Bank and Sentara Health System were the Industry Level sponsors. Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System and Riverside were the Enterprise Level sponsors.