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Looking ahead to the upcoming year: Officials discuss goals, plans and dreams for the region

Posted on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 11:29 am

With each New Year, comes a fresh start. While many people who make annual resolutions end up not adhering to them, local politicians in Richmond County have vowed to serve the public to the best of their abilities.
In order to accomplish that, they have set goals for their respective jurisdictions.
According to District  5 Supervisor and Chairman Lee Sanders,  while county growth was extremely important, he has three major goals to accomplish this upcoming year:
• We need to get Capitol Improvement Plan in place and start working on funding for that.
• We are going from a six-year to a four-year reassessment plan and we need to work on smoothing out the bumps with that
• And finally we need to work on keeping taxes low and staying within our budget.
Richmond County Public Schools (RCPS) have many organizational objectives, Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith listed a few of the more significant goals for 2014.
• Construction/Renovation Project Completion – The RCPS construction project will be coming to a close shortly after the start of 2015. A significant goal for 2014 will be to maximize the remaining contingencies for the project and “value engineer” on-going construction.
• Transition Planning – The school division will finalize on-going conversations regarding the closing of RCIS and the transition of students and staff to RCES and RHS.
•  Enhance Student Safety – The Virginia Safe School Program has allowed RCPS to implement new safe schools technology early in 2014. These systems will enhance intercom and emergency call systems in each classroom.
•  Improvements in RCPS Technology – The improvements planned will include:
The implementation of an advanced data server system.
The implementation of a pilot study regarding the use of electronic textbooks in RCPS classrooms.
The study and assessment of providing electronic tablets to each student in grades 8-12 for classroom and home instruction.
The implementation of in-classroom SMART technology in every classroom.
•  RCPS Program Improvements – The school division will continue to consider and implement curriculum and programs vital to the success of our students. RCPS will continue to provide leadership and self-esteem instruction through JrROTC, the Student Mentor Program and the Student Assembly Series.
• Curriculum Enhancements – The school division will continue to pursue the following improvements in student course offerings:
The on-going improvement of strategies to enhance student learning through the RTI (Response to Intervention) program.
The implementation of more AP and advanced study courses in science and mathematics.
The review and consideration of recommendations made by the Grade Policy Review Committee.
The continued cooperation and partnership with NNTC to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) instructional programming to RCPS students.
• Employee Benefits – The school division will seek to enhance the benefits provided to teachers and staff. While health insurance, VRS (Virginia Retirement System) and other employee benefits continue to increase in cost, the school division will strongly advocate for continued improvements.
Warsaw Mayor Mark Milstead Milstead and Town Manager John Slusser had similar goals for this upcoming year, which include continued growth and improvements to the infrastructure and façade of the town.
According to Slusser, his objectives include:
• The town hopes to receive a grant of approximately $200,000 from VDOT for sidewalk on both sides of Rte. 360.
• Construction of the new Family Dollar at the corner of Court Circle and Rte. 360.
• Pedestrian lighting along the new Family Dollar property and continuing along Court Circle to RCC.
• Construction of a pavilion at the Town Park with picnic tables and bathrooms.
•Identification of and progress toward the development of a new building and use which will benefit the community at the former Warsaw Health Care Center site.
Milstead said that ensuring taxes stayed low while citizens got the most for their money was extremely important and he has a similar list of goals for 2014, including:
• Sidewalk improvements to Rte. 360 and Main Street
• A picnic pavilion in the Town Park
• Marketing and developing the town’s recently acquired property where the Warsaw Health care facility is currently being cleared.
• Crosswalks and light in center of town
Sale of timber from Waste Water Treatment Plant property
• Update and improve personnel policies
• Recruit new businesses and boost local economy
• Improve town image through public contact, activities and keeping an open door policy for all recommendations or suggestions from the public.
At the state level, 99th Del. Margaret Ransone (R-Va) said that she was looking forward to her second term and adding that hearing what her constituents needed was the best way for her to represent those she serves.
According to Ransone, her top goals include:
• Continuing my push to ensure that our local schools and law enforcement agencies are receiving the funding and resources needed to ensure we have a safe community
• Focus on state programs that target career and workforce readiness initiatives in High Schools.
• Work with the Department of Education and other legislators to improve and reform the SOL testing requirements
• Redirect funding to our rural localities for the Community Services to address mental health issues and concerns
• Continuing to serve as a liaison between the citizens of the 99th District and the State Government.

All of the officials interviewed added that the most important thing in the New Year is ensuring that every citizen has a voice, is being represented fully and fairly and that the county continues to be a beautiful place to love, work and raise families in.