Supervisors visit White House

Published 11:52 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Two members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors attended a conference at the White House June 26 to represent the county and join other county board members and administration to hear issues relevant to local government.

Brown’s Store District Supervisor Mike Hankins and Plymouth District Supervisor Wayne T. Hoover attended the conference, a news release from Hankins cited.

The release cited the conference was hosted by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and approximately 100 supervisors and county administrators across Virginia attended. The release cited that Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, spoke with the group “on opioid abuse and the cost effect it has on local governments.”

The release cited that counties suffer due to opioid addiction through “lost employment, lost taxes, and increases in health care cost.”

Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), spoke on the department’s Opportunity Zones, the release cited. The Opportunity Zones, according to the HUD website, is “designed to use tax incentives to spark private investment in census tracts where 20 percent or more of the residents are in poverty or where the tract’s median family income is 80 percent or less of the area’s median income,” and job training programs.

Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, spoke on Trump administration’s focus on K-12 education.

The release cited that Hankins questioned DeVos about Lunenburg County Public Schools not being able to receive government grants to replace school buses that are more than 15 years old when grants can be offered to replace buses approximately 3 years old, and questioned why seat belts come as an additional cost when installing a school bus.

“The Secretary agreed with Supervisor Hankins and stated the she was working to make changes in policies like these,” the release cited.

Participants met with the Under Secretary for Benefits of Veterans Affairs, Paul Lawrence, who talked about VA Secretary Nominee Robert Wilkie’s confirmation hearings, Forever G.I. Bill, STEM Scholarships, and Modernization of the Appeals process for claims.

The Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen Censky, spoke to the group about the farm bill, broadband in rural areas and soybean prices, the release cited.

Censky is the former president of the American Soybean Association. The group also heard from a representative from the Department of Transportation about plans and funding to repair and improve highways and railroad in Virginia.

“Supervisor Hankins and Hoover both received contact information for people in several federal departments that could be very helpful to Lunenburg County,” the release cited. “The information includes names, phone numbers, and email address for key people within the departments. Some of the departments that Hankins and Hoover have contact information on are agriculture, commerce, defense, energy, education, EPA, FEMA, Food & Drug Administration, homeland security, HUD, Interior, Labor, Small Business Administration, state, transportation, trade, and Veteran Affairs.”

The release asserts that the speakers “clearly understands that problems each county faces are unique for that county and the cookie cutter approach does not work. With the information collected at the conference, counties will have a better understanding of where to go for answers to problems in the federal government.”