The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors meeting experienced several setbacks during October’s meeting; county offices are currently closed due to the surge of COVID-19 numbers in Mecklenburg. As a result, Board Meeting was held online via the County of Mecklenburg’s Youtube channel, but internet issues caused the first hour of the meeting to not be broadcast. Due to the closure, public comments were to be submitted ahead of the meeting by no later than Monday at noon.
The biggest topics covered in October’s Board meeting were the fate of the Confederate monument that stands in front of the Boydton Courthouse and the November Election updates. Regarding the statue, the Board decided to move further discussion to the November meeting, as board member Charles Jones was absent from this one.
Jason Corwin—Mecklenburg County’s Voter Registrar—was in attendance to give the Board updated information on Mecklenburg’s absentee turnout. 2,200 absentee ballots have been sent out thus far, but only 1,100 have been returned.
Corwin stated, “If you vote on Election Day this year, expect a wait.” A limited amount of people will be allowed in each polling precinct at a time, which will likely impact the wait times for voters. Corwin continued, “Things are progressing very well and our poll workers have been responding very positively; we’ve already started training. We’ve been doing social distancing as required…We clean out after every voter and try to keep it as sanitary as possible. We included that as part of our training…Please be patient with us, as we’re doing this for your safety and for the safety of our workers.”
Corwin also shared with the Board that he is seeking temporary relocation of the voting precinct located at Gator’s Store on Highway 49. He shared that most of the voters that rely on that location are elderly, and that they can only fit about two people into the voting precinct at once due to social distancing and other precautions.
The Board approved Corwin’s request to move the location to Bluestone Middle School, which is currently unoccupied, but Corwin let the Board know that he needs them to physically sign off on the change before he can notify affected voters.
Andy Hargrove asked for clarification that every voter standing in line waiting would be given the chance to vote even after closing at 7:00p.m. Corwin assured, “The way the law’s written, is that if you are in line at 7:00p.m., then you will be eligible to vote.” He stated that a poll worker will be sent out to make the announcement, and will walk in the last voters.
Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg County Tourism’s Coordinator, gave a presentation on the impact of COVID-19 on Mecklenburg tourism and what is being done to encourage tourism in the county. Last year, Mecklenburg County garnered a record 152 million in tourism revenue. This was a six percent increase from 2018.
Morgan stated that COVID-19, “has put a strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions and communities. It has caused decreased revenue and a reduced workforce. As a result, our projections for [Mecklenburg County’s] 2020 income, is that it will experience a sharp decrease.”
Morgan continued, “Part of our response to help our suffering businesses, was the creation of the Gift Card Match Program.” To date the program has generated a total of $244,000 in revenue for our local businesses. Divided, that was $44,000 in round one of the program, and another $200,000 in round two. Thanks to funding provided by the CARES Act, Mecklenburg County Tourism is gearing up for round three of this amazing program, and will launch the new round on November 17.
Superintendent Paul Nichols gave the Board of Supervisors a aerial view of the new school’s construction so far. Cinder blocks and concrete walls have gone up around most of the first floor. Asphalt on River Ridge Road is also close to completion. Final completion of the project is still projected for August 1.