The Central Virginian

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Jackson district resident challenges Louisa board chairman

Posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

Bernie Hill

Bernie Hill has spent the past five years trying to bring broadband service to everyone in Louisa County. He says the county’s elected leaders haven’t all shown the same commitment.

That’s the primary motivator behind Hill’s run for the board of supervisors’ Jackson district seat. Hill, a member of the Louisa County Broadband Authority, criticizes board Chairman Toni Williams, who is seeking a second term as the district’s representative, for voting several times against the authority’s wireless towers.

“When I went out with petitions, more than 95 percent of the people I spoke with saw broadband as their number one issue,” Hill said. “We migrated quickly to the fact my opponent voted against it and I’ve been working hard to make it happen.”

Hill said the fact the authority requires the supervisors’ approval for contracts doesn’t help. Each time the authority recommends approving a contract, it encounters opposition at the board level, he said.

Williams voted against funding the wireless project in January 2016 and against a contract to build the towers in December 2017. Each time, the board’s majority voted the other way.

Hill also takes issue with Williams’s support for the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park. Williams was one of four supervisors to approve spending $2.6 million to buy land for the park on Jan. 22.

One reason Hill disapproves of the business park is that he believes it is diverting money from more pressing needs, such as funding an addition at Jouett Elementary School. Louisa County Public Schools officials requested $1.1 million in the fiscal year 2020 budget for the school construction, but the supervisors punted the project at least to next year.

The expansion would enable Jouett to stop using trailers as classrooms. School officials see it as a security issue, since some students are in class outside of the main school building.

“I oppose spending money on the business park, because there are other things we should be spending money on,” Hill said. “It’s not that I’m against industrial parks. We should be spending more on the schools and on fire and rescue.

(Article by David Holtzman)

This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s May 16, 2019 issue.

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