Court, library requests made at hearing

WOODSTOCK — Education funding in Shenandoah County overshadowed other budget requests at the public hearing Thursday.

A few people asked the Board of Supervisors to include in the fiscal 2016 budget money requested by other county departments and offices.

Sarona Irvin, chief deputy clerk of the Shenandoah County Circuit Court, reiterated the constitutional office’s request for $18,000 to keep a part-time employee on staff. Supervisors denied Clerk Denise Estep’s request in November and then did not include funding in the proposed budget. Estep and Irvin have indicated that the office’s workload continues to increase.

The part-time worker was being trained to handle criminal cases. The number of criminal case files has increased from 393 in 1992 to 1,435 new files this past year, Irvin said. Data shows that the office remained understaffed by as many as four employees while the workload increased, she noted.

With Estep retiring at the end of the year, Irvin noted that she intends to seek the Republican Party’s nomination to run for the office. Her opponent, David George, has cited an audit performed on the clerk’s office as showing problems with managing certain areas of the court.

“So I come to you this evening to say that the problem with that is a lack of funding and we desperately need this position filled so that we can address these issues because I don’t think, either myself as the next clerk or should my opponent be the winner, will be able to address this problem unless the board reconsiders and puts this into the budget,” Irvin said.

Barbara Adamson spoke on behalf of the Shenandoah County Historical Society when she asked that the board restore the full-time archivist position in the Shenandoah County Library and Truban Archives. Supervisors chose not to grant the Library Board’s request to include $36,340 of local money in the budget that would restore the position left vacant and unfunded since 2010. County Administrator Mary Beth Price had recommended the budget include the amount for the position.

“Library Director Sandy Whitesides has presented a compelling case for the restoration of this position noting the efforts of volunteers, the support of the library trustees, library foundation and library staff to continue to provide services for patrons despite funding cuts,” Adamson said.

In spite of the volunteers’ efforts, the library still needs an archivist, Adamson added. She noted that local residents and visitors from out of the area come to use the library’s resources. Adamson said she has learned that some historical documents are being donated to places outside the county because of a “lack of confidence in our ability to properly care for them.”

“This is a shame and it’s an unnecessary loss,” Adamson said.

The board plans to take action on Tuesday to consider adopting the tax rates. Supervisors will consider adopting the budget at their regular meeting April 28.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com