Council appoints Ritchie interim zoning administrator, votes to help replace Rebel Park lights

NEW MARKET – The Town Council met to address a personnel matter and voted on an update to its 2017 budget at its monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

The departure of Chad Neese, New Market’s town planner and zoning administrator, left a vacancy in the latter role. The town’s finance and personnel committee recommended earlier this month that Mike Ritchie, New Market’s town manager, fdill that role on an interim basis. The council appointed him at Tuesday’s meeting by way of unanimous vote.

Councilwoman Peggy Harkness proposed the budget amendment, requesting the allocation of up to $5,000 to replace lighting at Rebel Park. Ritchie said that a speedy replacement would be ideal as the Stonewall Jackson High School baseball team’s season is drawing near./

“There’s a certain urgency involved,” Ritchie said. “There are 36 field lights out at Rebel Park. … They (Stonewall Jackson) are starting these games later now, due to the fact that when they started earlier in the evening, or the afternoon, the setting sun, for a period of time, shines right into the pitcher’s eyes and it becomes a safety issue.”

The up to $5,000 will come from the town’s capital reserve funds, and Ritchie said he anticipates the remaining money to come from Stonewall Jackson High School and the Rebels, saying those entities have combined to cover light replacement costs in the past. The motion to amend the budget passed by way of unanimous vote, with other members of council agreeing that safety is paramount. Ritchie said that ideally the amendment would’ve gone through the committee process, but cited immediate need as reason for forgoing it.

Councilman Peter Hughes also presented some results of the citizen survey he worked to create, explaining that 194 people, both within town limits and residents of the town who live outside its 22844 zip code responded. He said that preliminary analysis of the survey contained several “trends and surprises”.

Hughes said that two main goals of the survey are to gather understanding of the desires of town residents when it comes to economic development and comprehensive plan matters.

The council also discussed, and approved, a request for the use of town facilities and resources by the New Market Fireworks Association for an Independence Day celebration.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or