$47,000,000.00 Educational Project

Lee County voters will have a chance to make a huge difference with a $47,000,000.00 educational project on the November ballot. The proposed referendum calls for the construction of two new schools which would be the first since 1980 in Lee County.

Lee County School Board member, Debbie Jesse stated "We are also having problems with our furnaces and the windows are old and the air goes right through them." Also "Many of our roofs are leaking." School Board Chairman, Mike Kidwell, stated that "One history class was half flooded."

Facility assessment information released last year shows nine out of the ten public schools located in the county are in poor condition, with Lee High School being the only one that didn't fall into that category.
Another major issue is the overcrowding in local schools. Elk Knob Elementary school has two classes that share the same mobile unit located behind the school.

The School Board's proposed plan is to close some of the schools in order to bring the total number of county schools from eleven to seven. The proposed schools that would be affected are Elk Knob Elementary, Elydale, Flatwoods, Saint Charles, Pennington Middle and Jonesville Middle. Brian Austin, School System Superintendent says they would build two, bigger elementary schools in Pennington Gap and Jonesville as they are the ones that have the largest populations.

The cost of the new schools will be funded by the tax payers in the form of increased real estate tax increases ranging between six and fourteen cents. For example that would mean an increase of $140.00 for each $100,000.00 of assessed property. The plan would also increase personal property tax from seventy cents to one dollar and twenty-five cents. For each $10,000.00 of value it would cost $125.00
Lee County resident, Jim Heironimus said "It's gonna be hard, there's a lot of people like myself on fixed income." But others said the proposed school plan is a worthwhile investment.

For exact details of the proposal including which schools will be renovated, which closed and the breakdown of all three tax plans follow this link


Arbor Day Foundation Tree Giveaway

Existing members as well as everyone who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in October will receive either five free Crape Myrtle trees or ten free Autumn Classic selected for our area. The ten Autumn Classic will include two Sugar Maples, and one each of Scarlet Oak, Sweetgum,  Northern Red Oak, Silver Maple, White Flowering Dogwood, and a Washington Hawthorn. The trees will be shipped post paid Nov 1st thru December 10th. The six to twelve inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Anyone interested should send a $10 membership contribution with their preferred tree selection to Arbor Day Foundation at 100 Arbor Avenue In Nebraska City, NE 68410 by October 31st. You may also join online at arborday.org/october

Stickleyville School Community Center Silent Auction

The Stickleyville School Community Center is sponsoring a silent auction to be held on  Saturday morning November 11th from 10:00-2:00 p.m.

Solar Energy Basics Workshop

Interested individuals are invited to learn about solar energy basics at the solar workshop that will be hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Appalachian Voices and Mountain Empire Community College on Saturday morning November 4th at Mountain Empire Community College. Admission is $10 but scholarships are available and pre-registration is required for this event. Lunch will be provided and for more information you may contact Emily Wells at 276-328-6194 during normal business hours.

Jonesville Town Council

The Jonesville Town Council will conduct a public hearing and their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening November 7th at 5:30 p.m.

Lee County Board of Supervisors

The Lee County Board of Supervisors heard remarks from Director of Business Development-Cumberland Plateau Region with Sunset Digital Joseph Puckett concerning cable services expansion at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday October 17th, where he informed the board members that a cable franchise agreement proposal would be coming soon. Puckett stated that county residents currently on the waiting list for internet will be reviewed first and with consideration as to what makes the most business sense.

No public comment was offered on the proposed ordinance to establish a Regional Industrial Facilities Authority in cooperation with Dickenson, Lee, Scott, and Wise counties along with the city of Norton. Subsequently a ten member board consisting of two individuals from each area was proposed for the authority according to Administrator Poe. The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Rita McCann, Lee County Treasurer submitted a written report that outlined $5,303,083.09 in revenues and $5,263.954.78 in expenses for the month of September.

County Supervisors appointed Jenny Hughes to the Lonesome Pine Office on Youth board while tabling two other appointments. Mary Ruth Davidson was appointed to the Lee county Housing and Redevelopment board with an appointment to the St. Charles Water Authority being tabled. Due to the resignation of Mike Brindle, Aaron Stacy was appointed to the Lee County Public Service Authority board.

The Southwest Regional Jail Authority requested that the General Assembly adopt legislation to reinstate funding for state responsible inmates to pre 2010 levels successfully. 

Local Colleges Boost Local Economy

New students at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy are a sign of  growing economy in southwest Virginia. The school has seen a nearly 40 percent increase in its overall student population this year with a total enrollment of 132. This year's incoming class brought in 69 first-year law students. The small school has struggled the past several years with enrollment decline.
"The Appalachian School of Law, as well as other law schools across the country, suffered from a decrease in enrollment. As a result, there were a number of law schools that have gone out of business," Virginia State Delegate Will Morefield said. Delegate Morefield represents Virginia's 3rd House District. He also serves as a consultant to the college for admissions and development.
The increase in admissions to the college has a direct impact on local communities. The college's mission is to benefit economic development, so there is no housing or food services available on campus.
McGlothlin said, "Those services are left to be provided by the public, by citizens in the community. There again with the economic growth of the county and the region as a whole."
Morefield stated that this is an example of higher education promoting the diversification of resources in a county that has historically relied on coal mining. "If you look at Buchanan County as opposed to some of these other dying jurisdictions, Buchanan County is setting a precedent."
Based upon a recent study, 60 percent of the school's graduates over the past six years who now practice law have stayed to use their degree in the region. McGlothlin stated "Our students are not coming to law school with the intention of getting a job with a big firm on Wall Street, but instead our students are going back to Main Street in their hometowns or small communities in the Appalachian region,".

Lee County School Board Special Called Meeting Tonight

The Lee County School Board will hold a Special Called meeting this evening at 6:00 p.m. to present the Lee County Public School Facility Plan for 2017-2018 that is on the November ballot.

Lee County RAM Planning Community Members Say Thanks

The Lee County RAM Planning Community members would like to publicly thank all businesses, organizations and individuals who volunteered their hard work and generous dedication to helping others with the Lee County RAM event that was held at Lee High school the weekend of September 23-24, 2017. They are already looking forward to next year’s event and hope that everyone will once again play a major part in meeting the healthcare needs of our residents.

Cumberland Gap Small Ruminant Conference

The Cumberland Gap Small Ruminant Conference is slated for Saturday November 4th, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the LMU’s  DeBusk Teaching Center. Tri-state Goat and sheep producers quite often get the “short end of the stick” in comparison to other livestock producers. The conference hopes to provide an educational resource to producers without having to drive to Blacksburg or Knoxville. The Cumberland Gap Small Ruminant Conference is designed to meet the needs of new and seasoned producers the cost is $25. To register for the conference please contact your local Extension office.