As we turn the page on 2021, and look towards 2022, we want to highlight some of the major initiatives of Richmond County over the past year, and look towards some of the goals and objectives for 2022.

Each year, beginning in October, the board of supervisors will review the goals set for the previous year, assess their status and create goals for the upcoming calendar year. As we began thinking about 2022, we wanted to find a way to engage with our citizens in a different format, so we reached out to the Northern Neck News to ask if they would be willing to let us have a once-a-month column to update the citizens on a different level. We are excited they have agreed to this, and hopefully these monthly columns will be beneficial to you.

Focusing on first responders

2021 was a busy year in Richmond County, continuing with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to highlight the work that the Richmond County Department of Emergency Services did for our county and our region in partnership with the Three Rivers Health District. Throughout the pandemic, our doors have been open to the region for testing events and vaccination events, which have been vital to our community.

Speaking of public safety, this past fall, the board of supervisors voted on two very important initiatives for our public safety personnel. First, was the initiative to hire an additional six full-time employees for the department of emergency services in order to fully staff two 24-7 ambulances for the county. Prior to this move, the county was operating one 24-7 ambulance, and one 12-hour ambulance during the daytime hours. Our call volume for 2021 will be the busiest year for EMS since the inception of the paid service, with over 1,500 calls in 2021.

The second initiative was a compensation adjustment for our EMS and sheriff’s office personnel to keep and attract highly qualified individuals in Richmond County for public safety purposes. Quality law enforcement and EMS services are critical to the success of a community for many reasons, and being competitive in the market for these individuals is vitally important. Richmond County is fortunate to have these individuals working for us and our community on a daily basis, along with the Richmond County Volunteer Fire Department, who still remain a 100% volunteer organization.

County Bucks is back

The County Bucks Program has returned for 2021. So hopefully you have been able to pick up your County Bucks and use them at a local business. We were very excited to be able to once again launch this program in 2021 after a very successful 2020 County Bucks Program.

In 2020, over 1,700 County Bucks booklets were distributed to our local citizens with the amount spent in our local businesses at almost $85,000. Similar numbers are expected to be generated from our 2021 County Bucks Program.

This program is being funded through the federal CARES Act and ARPA funding to help communities recover economically and financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very thankful for the 40 Richmond County and Town of Warsaw Businesses that are participating in this program. Richmond County is the only county in the region with a program such as this for the citizens and businesses.

The Comprehensive Plan

The County is working diligently on the re-write of the Comprehensive Plan to be adopted in late 2022. The Comprehensive Plan is the guiding document for priorities, such as land use planning, transportation planning and economic development for the next 10 years.

This document is required by Virginia State Code, and the Comprehensive Plan Committee is hard at work for their community. Members of the Committee include J.R. Fidler, Harry Smith, Michael Sisson, Richard Thomas, Alvin Hill, Cindy West, Emanuel Grimes, Kathy Clarke and Rick Cox. The meetings of the committee are open to the public, and we invite you to attend.

County buys building

And finally, an announcement that you have probably heard by now: the county has recently purchased the Coggin Furniture building located adjacent to the courthouse. It is always unfortunate for a small community to lose a local business that has served the community for many years like Coggin Furniture did for Warsaw and Richmond County. We wish the family well in their retirement, and thank them for their many years of service to our community.

With that being said, there was an opportunity for the county to purchase this property for future expansions of our courthouse offices. For many of you that have been into any of our offices over the last few years, you have probably noticed our need for more room and expansion for our employees and our citizens. We will be working to have a space study done on the Coggin property to be able to properly renovate this building for efficient office space needs into the future.

Although not a comprehensive list of the activities of the county over the last year, these are certainly some of the highlights as we look towards 2022.

Connect and engage

We thank you for your support and invite you to attend any of our meetings throughout the year, whether that be board of supervisors, planning commission, board of zoning appeals, wetlands board, comprehensive plan committee or our anti-litter committee. Please visit our Facebook page often as we try to announce all of our up-coming meetings, or consider joining our e-mail notification list that will send you e-mails and agenda notifications of all upcoming meetings.

From Richmond County, we hope that you and your family will have a wonderful Christmas Season and Happy New Year!

Morgan Quicke is the County Administrator for Richmond County since 2012. Morgan can be reached at 804-333-3415 or at rmquicke@co.richmond.va.us.