This week in county government; Who's funding the candidates; Chamber to host candidates' forum; Green Springs BOS contenders to discuss issues at Spring Creek forum
Engage Louisa is a community newsletter aimed at keeping folks informed about Louisa County government. It’s free, non-partisan, and powered by volunteers. We believe our community is stronger and our government serves us better when we increase transparency, accessibility, and engagement.
This week in county government: public meetings, September 20-25
Monday, September 20
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors will convene for its second September meeting Monday night with an agenda that includes one public hearing and several presentations. Most notably, the board will hear from the developer of the proposed Chickahominy pipeline, which could cut across the county to carry fracked gas to a power plant in Charles City County.
Board to hear from developer of proposed Chickahominy pipeline: The developer of the proposed Chickahominy pipeline will discuss his plans to build a natural gas pipeline that would cut across Louisa County en route to a yet-to-be constructed power plant in Charles City County.
In early July, residents in several central Virginia counties including Louisa received letters from Chickahominy Pipeline LLC asking for permission to access their property to investigate possible construction of a 24-inch natural gas pipeline.
The proposed project would cut through Louisa, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, and Charles City counties to carry fracked gas to the Chickahominy Power Plant in Charles City. The plant has gained approval from the Department of Environmental Quality but is staunchly opposed by some Charles City County residents.
Irfan Ali, whose tied to the development of both projects, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the pipeline would connect with existing natural gas infrastructure near Charlottesville. Both the Transco and Columbia Gas pipelines run through western Louisa.
Earlier this month, Chickahominy Pipeline LLC asked the State Corporation Commission to rule that the pipeline doesn't require SCC approval. The filing argues that the company “does not need commission approval to construct the pipeline because (a) Chickahominy will not serve two or more customers; and (b) Chickahominy is not a ‘public utility’ that requires a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct the pipeline.”
The SCC regulates gas service provided by public utilities as well as non-utility gas service, defined as an entity, other than a utility, that sells gas to two or more customers via pipelines.
Chickahominy LLC says that it will transport natural gas from a third-party provider to the power plant, which is backed by private investors. The plant will sell its power to a wholesale market serving numerous states.
Ali also told the Times-Dispatch that he would alter the pipeline’s route to accommodate property owners who don’t want it on their land.
Late last week, the SCC responded to Chickahominy’s filing, saying that impacted localities and other interested parties should have a chance to weigh in on the company’s request. The SCC gave impacted and interested parties until September 24 to respond to the filing and Chickahominy until October 1 to reply to the responses. Chickahominy has requested that the SCC issue a ruling by November 1.
The proposed pipeline has raised concerns among some impacted landowners and environmentalists, who argue that new natural gas infrastructure is not necessary to meet Virginia’s energy needs and that the pipeline is environmentally harmful and risky.
“No unknown and mercenary pipeline company should be trusted with building and operating a 90-mile long gas transmission pipeline through the heart of Virginia,” Citizens Against Chickahominy Pipeline wrote in a Facebook post. “Chickahominy Pipeline LLC must be subject to the SCC regulatory process that safeguards our common good.”
A map in the board’s agenda packet shows the proposed route of the pipeline, which would traverse nearly the entire length of Louisa County. It appears to begin near James Madison Highway (Route 15).
Note: This post has been updated to accurately reflect where the Chickahominy pipeline appears to start. At Monday night’s board meeting, a representative from TC Energy said they are not affiliated with the Chickahominy project. This post previously stated that the pipeline appeared to begin at the TC Energy compressor station. Chickahominy’s developer did not show up at the board meeting as scheduled. Read next week’s edition for more details.
Presentation about changes to Boswell's Tavern compressor station: TC Energy will discuss with the board its “Virginia Electrification Project and Changes to the Boswell’s Tavern Compressor Station.” No additional information is provided in the agenda packet.
The station, which serves the Columbia Gas pipeline, is located slightly northwest of Boswell’s Tavern on Waldrop Road. According to materials on its website, TC Energy’s Virginia Electrification Project is an expansion and reliability initiative to meet market demand. The company says the project will also cut greenhouse gas emissions.
At the Boswell’s Tavern compressor station, “new zero-emission electric motor compressor units will be added, and existing electrical systems will be upgraded with brand new technology to increase system reliability,” according to the company. The project will also upgrade the Boswell’s Tavern meter station to allow for additional capacity.
Note: This post has been updated to reflect the accurate location of the TC Energy compressor station. The post previously stated it was located on James Madison Highway.
Public hearing on bonuses for sheriff’s office: The board will hold a public hearing, required by state code, to approve bonuses for sworn deputies employed by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office.
During a special session in early August, the General Assembly appropriated over $3 billion in federal pandemic relief aid, courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act. The appropriations included $3,000 bonuses for state-supported sworn officers of sheriff's departments and regional jails.
LCSO employs both state-supported and non-state supported sworn officers. According to the resolution, the county will pay bonuses to every sworn deputy employed by the office as of October 1. The bonuses must be paid on or before November 30.
The proposed resolution states that $83,967 will be drawn from “State Shared Expenses - Sheriff” funding while an additional $145,328 will come from American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Several county employees leaving: Via a pair of resolutions in the consent agenda, the board will honor two county employees who plan to leave their posts.
Assistant County Administrator Jeff Ferrel, who has worked for county government since 2013, is vacating his position. The resolution in his honor notes that Ferrel was originally hired as General Services Manager before a 2014 promotion to Director of General Services. Since 2017, he’s worked as Assistant County Administrator overseeing the Community Development, General Services, and Parks, Recreation, and Tourism departments.
After a long tenure with Louisa County, Director of Technology Bob Hardy plans to retire, effective September 30. According to the resolution honoring him, Hardy has led the county’s technology department since 2004, served as county liaison and treasurer for the Broadband Authority since 2012 and as a member of the Louisa County Water Authority Board of Directors since 2014.
According to The Central Virginian, Community Development Director Robert Gardner also plans to retire. He has led the county’s planning department since 2017.
Appropriating grant funding: The board will consider a handful of resolutions to appropriate state and federal grant funds awarded to Louisa County Public Schools, Louisa Fire and EMS, and the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park.
Louisa County was awarded $786,333 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Go Virginia grant program for onsite utility design work and a Phase 1 Cultural Resource Survey at the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park. The county is providing a $396,000 local match from the Utility Capital Project fund.
The county was also awarded a $752,196 grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation for road improvement design to Shannon Hill Road and a new internal business park road. The state portion of the grant is $626,098 and the local match is $126,098, with the local portion coming from the County Transportation Investment Pool.
Louisa County Public Schools will receive $2,467,500 in state grant funding to address unfinished learning and extended school/year-round school initiatives, per the grant program.
LCPS also received $530,000 from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Clean School Bus program for the purchase of two electric school buses.
The Louisa County Department of Fire and Emergency Services received two grants from FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. One grant totals $494,875.84 ($128,593.96 first year and $122,093.96 for the following three years) for the period of November 25, 2021 to November 24, 2025 and covers staff recruitment and retention. The second grant totals $1,897,410 ($632,470 per year) for the period of February 27, 2022 to February 26, 2025 and covers the hiring of firefighters.
Approving legislative priorities: Supervisors will consider a resolution to approve their legislative platform ahead of the 2022 General Assembly session. As of Friday, the platform was not finalized, according to County Administrator Christian Goodwin. It’s unclear if it will publicly available prior to Monday night’s meeting.
Supervisors are scheduled to meet with Louisa’s legislators, Sens. Bryce Reeves and Mark Peake and Delegate John McGuire (or their staff), to discuss the platform on Monday, October 4 at 4 pm at the County Administration Building. (public notice)
Wednesday, September 22
Ag/Forestal and Rural Preservation Committee, Public Meeting Room, 1 Woolfolk Ave., 7 pm. At publication time, an agenda was not publicly available. (public notice)
Though a formal agenda wasn’t available prior to Engage Louisa’s publication, the Ag/Forestal and Rural Preservation Committee is expected to discuss an outline for the development of a Purchase of Development Rights program in Louisa County. Broadly, PDR programs are a conservation tool that allow landowners to sell development rights on qualifying property to a government entity while maintaining ownership and continuing to use the land.
At its last meeting in June, the committee heard a detailed presentation from Ray Pickering, director of Fauquier County’s PDR program, one of the largest and most successful in the state. The committee decided at that meeting to explore the possibility of bringing PDR to Louisa.
Instituting the program locally would require approval and funding from the Board of Supervisors.
Lake Anna Advisory Committee, Orange County Administration Building, 112 West Main Street, Orange, 7 pm. At publication time, an agenda was not publicly available. (public notice)
Additional information about Louisa County’s upcoming public meetings is available here.
Interested in taking your talents to one of the county’s numerous boards and commissions? Find out more here, including which boards have vacancies and how to apply.
Follow the money: who’s funding the candidates?
Early voting kicked off last Friday and election season is in full swing in Louisa County and beyond.
As campaign activities have ramped up, candidates’ fundraising efforts have as well.
Last week, the Virginia Department of Elections released campaign finance reports for the latest filing period, stretching from July 1 through August 31.
Here in Louisa County, five candidates for local office filed reports. Office-seekers who don’t raise or spend any money may be exempted from regularly filing, and donations of $100 or less aren’t required to be itemized. Here’s a quick look at the latest filings for local races and the 56th District House of Delegates seat.
Barnes leads local fundraising efforts as Patrick Henry race heats up: Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes led all local candidates in fundraising, taking in $13,018 on 63 contributions. Fifty of those donations, totaling over $3,800, came from contributions of $100 or less.
AAP1 LLC and N&S Construction, two companies owned by David Allen Powell, contributed $2,500 each, Barnes’ largest cash contributions.
The longtime incumbent, running as an independent and vying for his sixth term on the board, spent $6,888 with much of that going to signs and events.
Barnes ended the filing period with $6,160 cash on hand. (full report)
Republican challenger William Woody raised $5,545 off 12 contributions. Louisa County Republican Committee Chair Robin Horne and Mineral retiree Bob Arment each donated $2,000, Woody’s largest gifts.
Woody spent just $362 with $300 of that going to the Louisa County Republican Committee for an agricultural fair sponsorship. He ended the filing period with nearly $8,000 in the bank. (full report)
Babyok announces he’ll self-fund in Green Springs District, Jones posts modest fundraising numbers: Shortly after the latest campaign finance reports went public, Green Springs District Supervisor Bob Babyok announced, in a post on NextDoor, that he plans to self-fund his re-election campaign.
“I have decided to reinforce my independence by self-funding my campaign,” he wrote. “This strengthens the fact all County residents will have equal expectations and confidence that my views and actions will be impartial.”
Babyok, seeking his second term and running as an independent, loaned his campaign $2,500. He spent $1,409, using about $1200 to provide lunch for some Louisa County Public Schools staff. Babyok closed the reporting period with $1,090 cash on hand. (full report)
Republican challenger Rachel Jones raised $1,300 from five donations. Craig Williams PLC, a local law firm operated by former Louisa County Republican Committee Chair Graven Craig and Torrey Williams, son of Republican Supervisor Toni Williams, was her top donor, contributing $500.
Jones spent $158 with $100 going to the Louisa 4-H Livestock Club. As of August 31, she had $1,963 cash on hand. (full report)
Little fundraising action from other local candidates: Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams was the only other local candidate to file a report. Running unopposed for his second term, the Republican reported no cash contributions. He spent $320, the bulk of which covered a 4-H livestock sponsorship. Adams reported an $88 in-kind contribution from himself, which paid for social media advertising. He closed the filing period with $413 cash on hand. (full report)
For more information about upcoming local elections, click here.
McGuire racks up donations ahead of likely Congressional run: In the race for the 56th District House of Delegates seat, Republican incumbent John McGuire hauled in $232,818 from 180 contributions. He spent $81,693 and ended the filing period with over $198,000 in the bank.
While McGuire is running for his third term in the House of Delegates, he’s also likely preparing for next year’s Seventh Congressional District race. The Goochland resident failed to win the Republican nomination for that seat in 2020, placing second to Delegate Nick Freitas in a hotly-contested convention. Freitas lost to Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger last November.
In a voicemail message shared with Virginia Scope earlier this month, McGuire tells a prospective donor in Texas that he’s a “potential nominee for a top-five congressional seat — VA-07,” adding that he’d like to meet with the donor in Dallas the following week.
Some of McGuire’s largest donations came from the Lone Star State. He received $50,000 from Reliable Paving and Concrete, an Arlington, TX-based company, and $15,000 from Chris Scharbauer, an Amarillo rancher.
McGuire spent over $18,000 on polling, more than $15,000 on consultants, and over $7,000 on travel expenses during the two-month filing period. (full report)
Direct contributions to candidates for federal office are capped at $2,900 for individuals but there are no contribution limits for state-level races in Virginia.
Blakely Lockhart, McGuire’s Democratic challenger in the 56th District, raised $27,288 from 186 contributions. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and Henrico resident Marc Lockhart donated $5,000 each, her largest gifts.
Lockhart spent $9,677. Much of that covered the cost of large signs, campaign outreach, and staff. She ended the filing period with $48,883 cash on hand. (full report)
The current campaign finance period runs from September 1 through September 30. Reports are due October 15.
Chamber to host candidates’ forum; Green Springs BOS candidates to discuss issues at Spring Creek forum
Louisa County voters will have opportunities to hear directly from candidates for local and state office over the next two weeks.
The Louisa County Chamber of Commerce will host a “Business Forum” on Wednesday, September 22, from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Louisa Arts Center, 212 Fredericksburg Ave. The forum will feature a panel discussion as well as a chance to chat informally with candidates. During the panel discussion, candidates will answer pre-selected questions.
Green Springs District Supervisor Bob Babyok and challenger Rachel Jones, and Patrick Henry District Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes and challenger William Woody plan to take part in the event. Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams, running unopposed, also plans to attend.
In addition, Blakely Lockhart, the Democratic candidate for the 56th District House of Delegates seat, plans to participate. Delegate John McGuire has not yet confirmed his attendance.
Advanced registration is required. Attendees can submit questions for the candidates when registering. Register here.
Spring Creek Forum, September 30
Voters in the Green Springs District will have another chance to hear from Babyok and Jones the following week.
The Spring Creek Leadership Council will host a forum for the Green Springs District Board of Supervisors candidates on Thursday, September 30 in the Celebration Room at Spring Creek’s Main Clubhouse, 109 Clubhouse Way. Doors open at 6:30 pm. A question and answer period will follow from 7:00 to 8:30 pm and the event concludes at 9 pm. Voters will have a chance to talk with the candidates before and after the Q and A.
Spring Creek Leadership Council Chairman Mark Tubbs will moderate the event. Tubbs twice ran for the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors prior to moving to Louisa. For more information about the forum, click here.
Click here for contact information for the Louisa County Board of Supervisors.
Find agendas and minutes from previous meetings as well as archived recordings here.
Click here for contact information for the Louisa County School Board.
Click here for minutes and agendas for school board meetings.