In response to a request by Kim Bobo, the Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Middleburg Town Council adopted a resolution “requesting the General Assembly and Governor of Virginia accept Federal Medicaid funding and implement the full expansion of health insurance coverage as provided by the Affordable Care Act.”

The resolution passed without opposition, but with three abstentions.

With Mayor Betsy Davis absent, the Council Session was chaired by Vice Mayor Darlene Kirk.

Of the six other Council members present, three voted in favor of the motion: Kevin Daly; Kathy Jo Shea; and Mark Snyder; and three abstained: Kevin Hazard; Philip Miller; and Trowbridge Littleton.

When Town Attorney Angela Plowman noted that three votes did not constitute a majority, Vice Mayor Kirk exercised the Chair’s tie-breaking authority to vote in favor, causing the motion to pass and the resolution to be adopted and forwarded on to Richmond.

The resolution reads, in part:

Whereas Virginia’s Medicaid program has very restrictive eligibility criteria that exclude approximately four hundred thousand low-income Virginians from receiving comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage to provide for personal well-being and financial stability; and

Whereas, expanding Medicaid or creating a state solution to use federal Medicaid funding would be good for Virginia’s economy..; and

Whereas expanding health care coverage would help Virginia’s families by reducing debt (an estimate of $600- $1,000 for each individual who gained Medicare coverage) and reducing personal bankruptcies by eight per cent . . .

Now be it resolved that the Mayor and Members of Town Council call upon the General Assembly and the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia to fully accept Federal Medicaid funds and expand insurance coverage pursuant to the Affordable Care Act during the next regular session of the General Assembly.”

Middleburg is a prosperous village set in the west of one of the most affluent counties in the United States, and in the center of Virginia’s horse county.  A little known fact, however is that 135 people, 20% of the population of Middleburg,  lives in affordable work force housing owned by the Windy Hill Foundation.

Special Election November 8

Following a closed work session of the Middleburg Town Council on Friday, September 16, 2016, in Town Hall, Mayor Betsy Davis read a letter from Councilmember Kathy Jo Shea announcing that Shea was resigning from the Council effective October 15, 2016.  Shea is moving outside the town limits of Middleburg, and is thus no longer eligible to serve.

Davis accepted Shea’s resignation with regrets, and reminded Council that a special election would be held on November 8th to fill her seat.   

New Management for Health Center Property

As the proceeding closed a roughly two-hour-long, “special work session” on September 16, the Town Council also discussed matters related to the rental and management of the Town-owned “Health Center” building, probably best known locally as the former site of Middleburg’s Police Headquarters.

What to do with the property since the departure of the Police Department has long been a matter of discussion.

Departing Council Member Cathy Jo Shea, who had once before leased space in the building for her Solstice Healing Center, had sought space there again to relocate Second Chapter Books, established by Shea and Jilann Brunett.

Because Virginia law requires a public hearing before the Town can lease Town-owned property, however, the availability of space in the building had been duly advertised.

At its regular September 8 session, Town Staff notified Council that “another business may also be interested in leasing” the same space sought by Shea and Brunett.  That business, Charter Technologies, currently leases space across the hall from the old Police Department Headquarters, and is seeking to expand.

Council approved the Second Chapter Books lease on September 8.  What, if anything, will come of Charter Technologies’ request remains a mystery, though there are rumors of a compromise.

The details of the Council’s September 16 closed work-session discussions remain secret under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act Section 2.2-3711(A)(7). 

According to Council records, however, it is clear that Council Member Shea insisted that nothing regarding her and Brunett’s proposed Second Chapter Books lease be discussed during a wider discussion limited by law to “legal advice and the performance of a Town employee(s) regarding the lease of a portion of the Health Center property.”

By council vote Town Administrator Martha Semmes and Town Attorney Angie Plowman  were also present.

Police Activity

Police Chief A. J. Panebianco and his officers celebrated what Town Administrator Semmes called, “completion of the most disruptive part of the Route 50 project” in the heart of Middleburg.  With temporary traffic lights gone, two-way traffic moving, and the lingering effects of one of the worst hail-storms in living memory beginning to fade into history, Middleburg seems well on its way to returning to “even-better-than-normal” just in time for the annual Salamander Film Festival, Halloween, and Christmas in Middleburg.

Parking spaces and decisions about parking meters or other approaches to managing turnover in the town’s parking spaces is next on the department’s agenda.

Chief Panebianco’s planning for Christmas in Middleburg, he reports, is already well underway.  “We have a completely different plan this year that prioritizes safety, [and] will address resident complaints regarding ‘stacked’ and/or poor parking in the residential areas.”

Barricades have already been ordered.

New distinctive vests have been ordered for use by the press and other accredited photographers.  “Nobody will be permitted [to stand in] the parade route without a vest,” the Chief said.  “The vest will serve as the one and only “press pass.”

Town Support for Culture

The Town’s Economic Development and Advisory Committee recommended, and the Town approved grants of $2,500 each to support the Bluemont Concert Series and the National Sporting Library Museum.  The grants, it was noted, earn an equal amount of funding for both organizations in the form of matching grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Town Boundary Adjustment

At its regular monthly meeting on September 8 Town Council moved to “accept public comment and approve a boundary line adjustment.”   The change would incorporate land currently occupied by the Town’s sewer pumping station, now in the process of being replaced, plus two other small parcels.