Isle of Wight: 2018 in review

Published 4:40 pm Saturday, December 29, 2018

Mark Marshall’s resignation as Isle of Wight County’s sheriff and the subsequent campaigns by two deputies to succeed him dominated headlines in both The Tidewater News and Windsor Weekly for nearly two thirds of 2018, culminating in a special election held in July that saw James R. Clarke win the position. His challenger was James W. Pope.

That same month, Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors revealed that they had been in negotiation with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to establish a 60-bed juvenile correctional center in a proposed third phase of the county’s Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park near Windsor.

Per the terms of the county’s offer, it plans to provide the state with 20 acres of land and up to $500,000 toward utility costs, mainly for the purpose of extending the county’s sewer service down Walters Highway (U.S. Route 258) to the proposed site. In return, the correctional center is expected to bring around 240 jobs to the county with average salaries of $60,000.

In November, the county requested a new wetlands determination from the Army Corps of Engineers for the roughly 115-acre parcel on which the correctional center is to be located. A wetlands determination involves identifying exactly where wetlands do and do not exist on a particular parcel of land. Earlier this year, the county hired an environmental consulting firm, Kimley-Horn, to evaluate this parcel and others in the intermodal park for any environmental issues that would preclude development. Kimley-Horn’s report revealed the presence of wetlands throughout much of the proposed third phase. The parcel’s current wetlands determination will expire in October 2019.

Also in November, Windsor celebrated the opening of its Town Center. A few days later, residents elected a new mayor, Glyn T. Willis, and three new Town Council members: George L. Stubbs, J. Randy Carr and Kelly G. Blankenship. Willis will succeed Mayor Carita Richardson, who declined to run for reelection earlier this year, citing health reasons. The outgoing members of council are N. Macon Edwards III, who, like Richardson, declined to run for reelection, Tony Ambrose and Patty Flemming.

Other noteworthy headlines concerning the county and Windsor this year included:

1. Zuni child abuse case heads to grand jury. On Aug. 20 during a preliminary hearing in Isle of Wight County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a judge certified second-degree murder and felony child abuse charges against Jaye Hadley, 32, and her boyfriend, Justin Cox, 33, both of Zuni. The two are accused of causing the death of Hadley’s 5-year-old son, Alexander Robertson. Isle of Wight County Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to the 7000 block of Yellow Hammer Road in January, where they found the boy unresponsive. Robertson died a few days later at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

2. Carrsville to debut integrated arts curriculum. In February, Principal Clint Walters announced plans to bring violin instruction to Carrsville Elementary School, with all kindergarten through fifth grade students receiving 25 minutes of violin instruction per day. The plan became a reality at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year with the renovation of Carrsville’s library to include a music room, and the hiring of violin instructor Sebastian Sebastian.

3. IW Supervisors OK fund transfer for school security. Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors, in March, unanimously approved a request by Isle of Wight County Schools to re-appropriate approximately $820,000 in funds the school division saved on its roof replacement projects, and to reallocate that money for the division’s plans to improve school security. The school division made its request following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February, though the plan had been in the works for about a year prior to the attack.

The plan included the purchase of a one-button emergency communications system for all schools, upgrades to schools’ intrusion detection systems, expanding the use of ID badge-keyed door locks, adding high definition interior and exterior security cameras and equipping doors with Nightlock barricade systems. In September, however, the Board of Supervisors called for an immediate halt to future spending of the money after it learned that the Nightlock barricades the division purchased for $65,000 needed to be removed after the locks were found to be noncompliant with state fire codes. The school division did not heed the Board of Supervisors’ request, and in October, the School Board voted to proceed with plans to upgrade all schools’ ID badge systems.

4. Windsor High student makes Parkinson’s discovery. Anjali Patel, a then-student at WHS and the New Horizons Governor’s School for Science and Technology, discovered a previously unknown interaction between two of the three proteins involved in the onset of Parkinson’s disease — a neurodegenerative disease that can cause problems with speech, motor control and balance. Her research earned her a ticket to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — the world’s largest international pre-college science competition — held annually in May.

5. City Council OKs sale of skating rink. Franklin’s City Council voted in April to approve the sale of the former Isle of Wight-Franklin Skating Rink building, located in Isle of Wight County at 32510 Walters Highway, to Kevin Roughton, who planned to relocate his HVAC business, Quality Aire, to the site. County and city representatives celebrated the grand opening of the renovated facility in December with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

6. Citizens National Bank merges with Old Point. Old Point Financial Corporation, the Hampton-based parent company of The Old Point National Bank of Phoebus, in April, announced the completion of its acquisition of Citizens National Bank in Windsor.

7. Ribbon cutting held for “million dollar barn.” In December, Isle of Wight County Schools celebrated the opening of its “million dollar barn” behind Windsor Elementary School. Construction of the site, which includes the barn — complete with stables — and a classroom building, began in April, with construction costs initially estimated at $972,713. The new facility will serve as the home of the division’s agriculture career and technical education program.

8. IP real estate tax lawsuit dismissed. In October, Judge Carl E. Eason Jr. dismissed a lawsuit by International Paper against Isle of Wight County concerning what the company believed to be erroneous assessments of real estate taxes on the Franklin paper mill. In November, Judge Eason also ruled in the county’s favor concerning a lawsuit brought by IP concerning machinery and tools taxes, in which the company had alleged that the county, by virtue of substantially raising its M&T tax rate for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, had effectively defied a previous court order granting IP M&T tax refunds for fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

9. Isle of Wight Fair cancelled. Due to the forecasted path of Hurricane Florence, Isle of Wight County cancelled its county fair, scheduled for Sept. 13-16. The Seafood Fest, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12, was able to still occur, however. The hurricane’s projected path changed several times between when the county made its decision to cancel the fair and the date it made landfall, ultimately missing most of Virginia.

10. Windsor hires new planning and zoning administrator. During the summer, the Town of Windsor hired a new planning and zoning administrator, Ben Sullivan, a native of Fairfax County. In his new role, Sullivan is responsible for enforcing the town’s zoning ordinance and advising the town on the best ways to capture and manage growth.