Supervisors reluctantly agree to name bridge, rec center discussed and other county news

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White House Bridge
Photo by Caton Construction

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Nov. 7 — It took two votes on Monday night to secure support from the Page County Board of Supervisors to petition the Commonwealth Transportation Board to name the newly constructed westbound lane of the White House bridge over Route 211 just west of Luray the “Dominic ‘Nick’ J. Winum Memorial Bridge”.

During a discussion among supervisors that also brought two speakers to the podium, the debate seemed to pit the historical importance of the site against the desire to memorialize a fallen police officer.

“If we take away that bridge, we take away that history,” Luray resident and local history enthusiast Nancy Lee Shifflett told the board on Monday night. Shifflett talked about the significance of the nearby structure known as “White House” that was first built as a fort in the 18th century, and referenced Civil War actions in the area.

District 2 supervisor Allen Louderback was the first to raise the issue of location after a motion of support was made by District 3 supervisor Mark Stroupe. Louderback stated, “I’m not sure this is the best location,” and suggested — as others have — that the Alma bridge, which is closer to Stanley, bear the namesake of Stanley’s fallen officer.

On Feb. 26, 2021, Officer Winum was shot multiple times during a traffic stop on Stanley’s Judy Lane. Several memorial services have been held since then, and a new playground is planned for a Stanley park in his honor. Winum’s name also appears on a memorial wall for fallen officers in Washington, D.C. In the weeks and months following his death, condolences and offers of help for the department, the family and the community poured in from all over the country and beyond.

The White House bridge was chosen by the leaders of Stanley because “one of Dominic ‘Nick’ Winum’s favorite spots was to sit in the area of the White House Bridge where he could enjoy the scenic view of the Shenandoah River while patrolling U. S. Highway 211 West,” according to the resolution adopted by the Stanley Council and submitted to the board of supervisors.

Winum worked with the Virginia State Police for a decade from 2006 to 2016, before joining the Stanley Police Department until his untimely death last year.

“This is one of the most well-traveled bridges in Page County,” Stanley Police Captain Aaron Cubbage told supervisors on Monday night. “I think it will forever be known as White House bridge, but maybe…it can carry Officer ‘Nic’ Winum’s name too.”

In November 2019, the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded an $11.3 million contract to Fielder’s Choice Enterprises Inc. of Charlottesville to replace the westbound bridge over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, between Route 615 (Egypt Bend Road) and Route 646 (Oak Leaf Road). Beginning in May of 2020 and reaching completion this summer, the two-year project featured two 12-foot travel lanes, a 10-foot right shoulder and a 6-foot left shoulder. The new, 625-foot bridge is about 200 feet shorter than the previous bridge to match the embankment length of the adjacent eastbound span.

Page County has named two other bridges in recent years — the Compton bridge at Jeremy’s Run on Route 340 north of Luray was named the Richard T. Brumback Memorial Bridge; and the Bixler’s Ferry bridge over Route 211 on Mechanic Street was named the Emmett Arthur Dougans Memorial Bridge.

It was noted a few times during the discussion that these are really the only bridges in the county that actually have a “name.” Other structures that carry monikers like Alma bridge, Overall bridge and even White House bridge are simply colloquial terms, rather than official names.

The first motion of support for naming the bridge after Officer Winum was made by Stroupe and seconded by District 1 supervisor Keith Guzy. It failed after a 3-3 tie vote. Louderback was joined by District 4 supervisor Larry Foltz and District 5 supervisor Jeff Vaughan in dissenting.

“Well that’s disappointing,” at-large board chairman Keith Weakley said following the tie vote. “I am disappointed we can’t name a bridge after a fallen officer just because it’s not next to the town he lived in. We’re talking about a small, green sign…that’s all.”

“I recommend you all three call the family and apologize,” Guzy told the dissenters.

Each of those casting a dissenting vote spoke favorably of Officer Winum during the discussion and acknowledged his ultimate sacrifice and service to the community, adding that they simply disagreed with the location. However, Vaughan conceded to Guzy’s persistence to reintroduce the issue.

“I’m not going to get in a pissing contest over it…but if that’s what ya’ll want, then I’ll do it,” Vaughan said before making a second motion of support for the naming of White House bridge. Once an issue fails, it must be reintroduced by someone who dissented in the first vote. The second motion of support passed by a unanimous vote.

As the last item on Monday’s agenda, the meeting concluded soon after. Shifflett then came up to Foltz and Vaughan to thank them for their support.

“It will always be White House bridge,” Vaughan told Shifflett.

“Always,” she replied.

Both resolutions adopted by the Town of Stanley and the Page County Board of Supervisors will be sent to the Commonwealth Transportation Board for final approval, which could take several months.

If approved by the CTB, the resolution adopted by the supervisors calls for the county “to pay the cost of producing, placing and maintaining the signs.”

In other business at its Nov. 7 work session, the Page County Board of Supervisors took the following actions:

• Gave board consensus to move forward with planning for the construction of a new recreation and community center on county-owned property near the Page County Technical Center. The new facility will not only provide county-owned basketball courts indoors and soccer fields outdoors for its own programs, but may include other revenue-generating recreational activities that could serve locals and visitors alike. Andrew Good, recreation program coordinator for Page County, has been working on plans for a $4 million structure to alleviate dependence on facilities owned by the towns or the school system in order to conduct their current youth and adult programs. County Administrator Amity Moler said the project could be funded through a growing fund balance (also referred to as “reserves” or “savings”), as well as financing a portion of the cost. Supervisors were overwhelmingly in support of the project, but felt it may need to be larger and offer more amenities to attract rental customers. Guzy said the facility could have revenue-generating potential to help pay for operations if it is rented out for tournaments and private instruction, to include batting cages and pitching instruction. Louderback requested that an indoor pool be considered as part of the complex as well. Good will revamp and broaden his proposal before bringing it back before the board.

• Unanimously approved a resolution of support for the Luray-Page County Airport Authority for interim financing of up to $4,264,700 through the Bank of Clarke County to complete future capital projects at the Luray Airport that have been “on the books for a while,” according to a presentation on Monday by Authority chairman Powell Markowitz. Those capital projects include 18 hanger units already bid on by Lantz Construction, a terminal building and parking lot, and a fuel farm. The hanger units, according to Markowitz, would generate enough revenue to pay the debt service on the note. He said there are 30 potential hanger renters on a waiting list now, and the Luray Airport will likely require 12 months rent in advance, along with a deposit. The Rural Housing Service, an agency of USDA, would take over the note to provide permanent financing for the projects. The resolution also included support of refinancing a revenue note of about $1.5 million for the Authority to finish paying off the existing 28 hangers at the airport, which generate about $8,100 a month in rent. The new units are expected to bring in an additional $5,500 per month. Markowitz will present the same resolution to the Luray Council next week.

• Unanimously approved a motion to hold a public hearing at the Dec. 5 work session on proposed amendments to the Page County Zoning Ordinance regarding signs. The changes reflect the outcome of a June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case (Reed v. Town of Gilbert) that make many subsections in Page County’s current ordinance unenforceable. The county can no longer deny a sign based on its content, only its size and potential location. The new ordinance also does not support off-premise signs, which lies in direct conflict with several supervisors desire to get a sign for the Tech Center placed along Route 340. The Page County Planning Commission held a public hearing on Oct. 25 and unanimously recommended approval.

• Unanimously adopted a resolution confirming Page County “will participation in the Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act and accept funds appropriated for the purpose set forth in this Act until it notifies the Department of Juvenile Justice, in writing, that it no longer wishes to participate.”

• Unanimously approved a resolution submitted by the Page County Economic Development and Tourism Department to petition the Virginia Tourism Corp. (VTC) to adjust the name listed on the county’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) designation from “Page County” to “Page Valley.” VTC only coordinates marketing activities with DMOs, according to the resolution, which allows for partnering on grant opportunities and other efforts. The county department is using “Page Valley” to brand the region, feeling it stands out more and plays off the geography of the region, including the larger Shenandoah Valley. In the current absence of a director for the department, the resolution states that Communications and Marketing Coordinator Rebecca Armstrong will serve as “chief liaison” for the DMO.

• Unanimously adopted a resolution to support America’s 250th commemoration by forming an official VA250 committee and begin planning for statewide commemorations in the coming years. Established by the General Assembly in 2020, the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) serves to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War and the independence of America in Virginia. America’s 250th commemoration is scheduled to begin in 2026 and continue through 2031. In preparation, Virginia localities are encouraged to begin the planning process by forming an official VA250 committee and creating a plan to promote stories, history and culture. The Virginia Tourism Corp. (VTC) on Oct. 25, 2022 opened the inaugural application period of the VA250 Tourism Marketing Program, a partnership between the VA250 Commission and VTC designed to support, promote and market programming, events and interpretive signage related to quests for freedom against the backdrop of America’s 250th commemoration. The grant program offers recipients up to $10,000 and requires a 1:1 cash match for programs and projects that support the mission of the VA250 Commission and drive visitation to Virginia destinations.

• Unanimously approved an increase to the fee for “waste stream tires” — tires that are not separated and brought to the Battle Creek Landfill mixed in with other waste — from $5 per tire, to $40 per tire. The huge increase is aimed at deterring dumpers from mixing tires with other waste, which is a nuisance in terms of labor as well as something that the Department of Environmental Quality “frowns upon.” Landfill manager Jeff Blevins told supervisors that some sites charge as much as $100 per tire, adding that Battle Creek had dealt with 432 waste stream tires in the past two months. The new fee will not effect county residents, who are not charged for dumping. Blevins also reported that the Battle Creek Landfill had generated revenue of $1.3 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2023 (July-Sept.), with $461,000 in costs and a profit of $880,000. The cost per ton to dispose of that 50,000 tons of waste was about $9.22. Blevins said when adjustments were made for annual permits, insurance fees and other one-time annual costs within the first quarter, the operating cost per ton goes down to $7.48.

For more information, visit the county government website at

https://www.pagecounty.virginia.gov/

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