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Danville City Council – LIVE! (6/21/16)

SouthsideCentral was LIVE! at the dam Danville City Council meeting on Tuesday night. This article is now complete, so enjoy the recap!

Let’s bring out a Big Board to give you an overview on what is going to happen tonight…

  • Buddy Rawley will do the prayer and lead the Pledge of Allegiance in his last City Council meeting.
  • There will be a proclamation for “Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month”.
  • The Public Comment session is next. Although there’s no official Public Hearing on the dam removal issue, the procedure has been to have people speak on that issue when it comes up during the business session. We’ll have to see how this will work.
  • The minutes from the previous month’s meeting will be approved.
  • Old business will be accepting grant money for the sheriff’s department, plunking down the tied-up Duke energy settlement into the specified projects and changing the recycling pick-up program to every two weeks instead of weekly.
  • Next, seventeen appointments to city boards & commissions.
  • New business is next with bond authorization approval, the resolution to demolish the White Mill dam, and approval for two economic development incentive grants. I expect a fair number of public speakers about the dam removal if the comment section is opened it during new business.
  • The around the horn time will wrap up the business session and we’ll go to the work session.
  • The work session should be quick. Tonight’s topics are about formally locking in term limits for IDA board members, the monthly city financial statements and the emergency access to the Pinetag neighborhood situation.

We’re underway!

Here’s one side of tonight’s audience.

And here’s the other side. Sheila Baynes smiles for the camera.

We miss Dolores Reynolds tonight! It’s a much lighter crowd than I expected, we’ve got less than 10 around 5 people to speak about the dam. Just before the meeting, we pushed out an update on our social media channels saying that “SouthsideCentral has projected that council will table the resolution to demolish the White Mill Dam.”

Old business passes easily and quickly, and the same for the boards and appointments. Now let’s move to the dam issue. Even though there’s no public comment section on this agenda item, the floor is opened up so that people can state their issue.

Morris Lawson speaks first.

He asks questions but is reminded that this not a Q&A session. He wants the dam to stay because of fishing concerns. He goes into coal ash issues and wants to know where the money for the dam demolition comes from. It gets sort of awkward because his first questions are answered, but then that is stopped. Sherman Saunders says that they’ll get his answers back to him. I’m not blaming Lawson for this, because it’s clear that he’s not familiar with the public hearing process. Moving along…

Sonja Ingram speaks on behalf of Preservation Virginia.

Ingram speaks about the historical aspects of the dam. She’s in favor of the Modify option. That’s the end of the speakers. So that happened.

And here’s where it gets very bizarre. The overall plan was for somebody to make a motion to table this item and that would be the end of it for now. But that doesn’t happen, as Gary Miller makes a motion to demolish the dam. His motion dies for the lack of a second (because everyone most everybody else was on board with tabling the issue). Awkward time again as council members ask what does a motion dying for lack of a second actually mean to the resolution. City Attorney Clarke Whitfield correctly points out that it means “No Action” has been taken on the item. There’s another few awkward seconds and then Fred Shanks makes a motion to fence the dam and put buoys around it like it was discussed in a council work session. This comes out of nowhere to everybody else and almost dies for lack of a second until Buddy Rawley seconds it to open the discussion floor on the motion.  Rawley talks about how he’s changed his original position of Remove to Keep because of what he’s heard from the citizens. Larry Campbell asks what the difference is between this dam and the Union St. dam, so here comes Public Works head Ric Drazenovich to answer those questions.

Ric Drazenovich explains it all.

Ric Drazenovich says that the Union St. dam is just as dangerous. Of course, it’s not as easy to get to the foot of the Union St. dam as it is to the White Mill dam. Lee Vogler gets the floor next and suggests tabling everything (that was the original plan). However, he doesn’t make that motion and control of the floor goes back to Fred Shanks. There’s a lot of discontent now because Fred’s motion was unexpected. Fred tries to explains his motion saying that he’s gotten almost unanimous support for keeping the dam. . Gary Miller interrupts, saying “No, it’s not.” and that pisses Fred off. Fred & Gary has been on opposite sides of this issue since the beginning of it. Sherman Saunders reminds everybody that Fred has the floor. This is getting bizarre.

Fred uses his civil engineering knowledge to point out ramifications after the dam removal are unknown. Fred’s always been for the Keep option and he’s making a passionate speech for it. I’m sensing that Vogler, Miller or Buckner are going to move to table. Alonzo Jones has the floor next and says he will move to table everything if he has to, but then doesn’t move to table everything.

Ken Gillie was just as surprised to be called up as I was.

Sherman Saunders now takes the floor and calls Ken Gillie up to ask if more options could be generated. Gillie says yes. Control now passes to James Buckner, and he’s had enough of everybody’s crap. He makes a motion to table Fred’s motion and to postpone everything else indefinitely. According to parliamentary procedure, that motion takes priority and stops debate immediately. James’ motion passes 8-1 (Shanks voting no). That’s the end of that. I predicted the outcome correctly even though I wasn’t expecting Fred Shanks’ motion. After all of that “interesting” stuff, the economic development incentives go right through and we’re done with regular business. Before the around the horn session, Sherman Saunders presents Buddy Rawley with a plaque for his 10 years of service on council. Buddy makes a nice speech. In the rest of the around the horn, everybody praises Rawley.

In buddy Rawley’s last around the horn speech, he rightfully blasts Leonard Harville for getting an incident that happened at Averett totally wrong. Rawley explains that two students hit their heads together during an event, but Harville “reported” that there had been an assault on campus. Harville was at the council meeting but left before Buddy’s speech. That’s too bad.

We’re moving to the work session, and everything flies right through.

Mike Adkins goes over the financial reports and explains how bonds are issued.

Here’s the rest of the work session table. Lee Vogler left before the work session started.

The audience for tonight’s work session is very sparse.

Corrie Teague took Dianne McMahon’s usual seat. Heh.

And that’s it. We’re done. Thanks for reading the most comprehensive recap of Tuesday’s Danville City Council meeting.

We’re going to have to do a BreakDown article on what happened and why it happened because conspiracy theories, false information and ridiculous outrage is out there. And we’ve got some bonus photos, too. All of that is coming soon… only here on SouthsideCentral!

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