New director in place at the EACC

The Valley Banner

ELKTON – There’s a new director on board at the Elkton Area Community Center.

Councilman Jeff Jones announced at Monday’s council meeting that Harrisonburg resident Mark Pedersen has been hired to replace Allison Morris as EACC director.

After the meeting Monday, Mayor Wayne Printz said Pedersen started April 18 at an annual salary of $42,000.

The vacancy was created when Morris was hired earlier this year in the new position of grant writer/town events director. Morris had been administrator of the EACC since it opened in 2006.

Wording approved
By a vote of 5-1, with Harry Armbruster dissenting, council approved the second reading of language to the town’s ordinance regarding transitional living centers that Pham Chopra said he wants to open in the area.

The language requires a special exception permit for such a group home facility and requires them to be in R-5 and R-6 zoned areas.

The council proceeded with the approval despite Chopra’s recent announcement that he doesn’t plan to open such a facility in town limits.

During the meeting, Town Attorney Nathan Miller complimented Planning Commission Chairman Dan Talbot.

Miller said the town is fortunate to have a Planning Commission chairman of Talbot’s caliber. “I represent four other communities, and none is as good as he is,” Miller said.

Talbot said that grappling to add the proper language for transitional living centers – which would house military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or former professional athletes who are recovering drug and alcohol addicts – was “a very difficult issue.”

He noted, however, that group homes are “very heavily regulated at the state level” and that the town code is adopting the state language.

New basketball court
Council unanimously voted to support a basketball court project next to town hall.

A little-used tennis court will be replaced with a new basketball court, Councilman Joshua Gooden said.

He noted that the cost of the estimated $25,000 project will be borne by Elkton-area resident Deb Songer in honor of her late 19-year-old son, Ben Graessle, who was shot and killed outside The Commons apartments on Port Republic Road in Harrisonburg on Dec. 23, 2012.

Blue Ridge Heritage Project
Council voted unanimously to support a Blue Ridge Heritage Project memorial at Stonewall Memorial Park to honor the families of those displaced in the creation of Shenandoah National Park.

The park was one of five sites that the project’s Rockingham Committee looked at recently.

During public comment, committee spokesman Jim Lawson said he prefers Stonewall Memorial Park for placement of a memorial.

The committee is scheduled to vote on project location at its May meeting.

Odds and ends
Miller said he plans to re-advertise for a public hearing in early May that would set a higher bond limit for the second phase of the upgrade of the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

Miller previously said council should increase the bonding capacity to $3.9 million to account for engineering, capitalized interest and legal fees that wouldn’t be covered under the original $3.1 million threshold approved by council.

Councilman Gerry “Bootie” Comer announced that epoxy coating of the 5th Street Bridge over Elk Run Creek was started and finished on Friday by Lanford Brothers of Roanoke.

Public Works Director Troy Shifflett said the epoxy coating will prevent salt from eating into the bridge’s concrete decking.

Council unanimously voted to revise its personnel manual in regard to advertising for open positions.

Printz said the change will allow the town to advertise for a position once instead of twice. He said the revision was a cost-saving measure, adding that it costs the town around $2,500 for two advertisements.

“It’s expensive to advertise,” he said.

Jones, who was named the council’s representative to the EACC on Monday, noted that a gymnastics program will be held at the community center from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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