Montgomery County has earned two achievement awards from the Virginia Association of Counties.
Joe Lerch, Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) Director of Local Government Policy, presented the awards at the regular Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 11, 2023.
“We’ve been around since 1934 to serve the interests of Virginia counties. We primarily do this through our advocacy efforts both at the state and even at the federal level, but we also have education programs, member services, and communications,” Lerch said. “We established the achievement award program in 2003, so this now coming on 20 plus years.”
According to Lerch, 2023 is the 21st annual achievement award program, receiving 135 entries and 33 winners were selected from 20 counties.
“This is your eighth and ninth award for Montgomery County,” Lerch said.
The Employee Engagement Committee received one of the awards. Amy Marshall, who leads the committee, along with several of the 21 dedicated members were present to accept the award. The committee works to organize activities for county employees that provide unity and appreciation for their commitment in their roles as employees of Montgomery County.
“We sincerely appreciate all of your Board of Supervisors’ support and the recognition received from the Virginia Association of Counties tonight,” Marshall said.
The second award was presented for the Wetland Mitigation Project for Crab Creek.
“I think an additional five acres of wetlands are being created that’s going to be under easement, but there was also the 4,000 plus linear feet of Crab Creek that was being redone,” Lerch said. “In my experience in working with cities and counties over my professional career, I really love stream mitigation projects. When you restore that sinuosity to the creek, you get the vegetation there, the wildlife comes back, it really has a big benefit.”
Lerch also pointed out the added benefit to the area landowners who are in a FEMA flood zone and how this project helps to mitigate this hazard to property owners.
Planning and GIS Director Brea Hopkins accepted the award on behalf of the GIS team for Montgomery County.
“This project is a great example of how collaboration and a good private-public relationship can bring about significant change and benefit the community,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said that when approached in 2021 with a proposal to create a wetland mitigation program, the county discovered that this type of use was not clearly defined in the county zoning ordinance. After research and consideration of other counties’ similar wetland mitigation projects, an amendment was then created in spring of 2021.
Along with the protection of wetlands, well into the future, tax credits are another benefit of the wetland project.
“These credits are vital to area developers as Montgomery County is one of the fastest growing localities in the state of Virginia,” Hopkins said. “The environmental benefits to Crab Creek were also very substantial. Natural habitats were restored, flood hazards were mitigated, and there is now a guaranteed open preserve space in that community.”
Board of Supervisors Chair Sherri Blevins provided words of congratulations on the receipt of the two awards to the County employees.
“There’s no wonder the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce named Montgomery County as the 2023, one of the best places to work,” Blevins said. “Thank you all for your dedication.”
Additional information on the achievement awards can be found at the County’s https://montva.com website.
In other business during the meeting, Virginia Department of Transportation’s David Clarke gave an update on work their department has completed in the last month.
With the recent weather event on Dec. 10, crews were working on the roads, but the rain has been a benefit to roads experiencing a lot of dust on graveled roads.
“Got some tree debris picked up on Piney Woods Road and Flatwoods, some shoulder work particularly on Glade Road, did a lot of ditching and shoulder work on Glade Road as well as patching. We put in a number of pipes on Glade Road and got those patched. Patched some potholes on Indian Run and did a bit of milling and paving at the intersection of Walton Road and Route 11,” Clarke said.
Supervisor Sara Bohn requested an update on Mill Pointe Road work, to which Clarke responded that it was being scheduled now, and it should be done in the next few weeks. She also requested Clarke to take a look at Harding Road, which appears to be experiencing some washouts.
Supervisor Darrell Sheppard expressed parting words to Clarke, as this was his last Supervisor’s meeting.
“I’d just like to say I appreciate you spending your time to come here and work with the Board and making yourself available to take notes and report to us as to what’s going on,” Sheppard said. “I’m quite sure that the citizens of the county, if they don’t already know, would’ve appreciated that too. Thank you.”
Supervisor Steve Fijalkowski requested an update on the Craig Mountain Road speed study. Clarke said it has been completed but he has not received the results yet.
Todd King also requested further information concerning Craig Mountain Road, specifically referring to the condition of the shoulders of the road. Additionally, King had previously mentioned a large pothole situated on Stanley Road, just off Tyler Road.
The addition of a right-turning lane for the Prices Fork Road and Route 114 intersecting area was a question for Supervisor Mary Biggs.
“There is a project under design for that right now. You can thank your Commonwealth Transportation Board member, Dr. Smoot, for lobbying for that and getting some funding for that. It’s in the design process and it’s going to be a while, but the ball is rolling on it,” Clarke said.