A look back at 2021

Published 8:15 am Friday, January 21, 2022

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Throughout the month of January each edition of The Charlotte Gazette will highlight the events of 2021 as they appeared each week. This week’s edition takes a look back at the months of July through Sept. of 2021.

JULY, 2021

• The Piedmont Health District is experiencing a new surge in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant arrives in the area.

From Monday, July 19, to Monday, July 26, most counties in the Piedmont Health District experienced large jumps in COVID-19 cases.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), from the week of July 19 to July 26, Charlotte and Lunenburg counties each saw five new cases of COVID-19 compared to eight and two cases, respectively, the week prior.

• One issue facing school divisions this fall is mask requirements The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recently released new guidance for pre-K through 12 schools for the upcoming school year.

The interim guidance for COVID-19 prevention in Virginia pre-K through 12 schools reinforces the importance of in-person learning and supports school divisions in making decisions on masking and other prevention measures, as informed by local data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the VDH, pre-K through 12 schools will make locally informed decisions on masking and prevention measures, as informed by CDC recommendations.

• Creating a place for community members and creating jobs, all while giving back, is what Keysville’s new ice cream shop is all about.

King Street Church held its grand opening of Sundae Service Thursday, July 22.

The ice cream shop, run entirely by youth members of the church, is located in the former Tri-County Ford Building.

According to King Street Church Pastor David Malcom, the church continues what former ice cream shop owner Kim Henry began.

“She ran the Polar Express here,” said Malcom. “When we purchased the building, we just thought this is such a great asset to the community that we needed to continue it.”

According to Malcom, the youth will decide what to do with the profits from the shop.

“They run this, Malcom said. “They will decide where to use the funds whether it be to fund mission trips, helping others in the community or donating to other causes.”

Malcom said the ice cream shop is not about making money for the church.

“This is all about bringing the community together, creating jobs, and teaching our youth business skills while serving the community,” he said.

• Charlotte County may become home to yet another solar facility.

NOVI Energy has submitted its application to the county to develop a 218MW solar project located in the area of Welsch Tract Road and Bethlehem Road near Charlotte Court House.

According to the developer’s application, the project known as Tall Pines Solar will be located on approximately 1,775 acres of land owned by four different landowners.

The project will connect with existing transmission lines that traverse the site.

Based in Novi, Michigan, NOVI Energy is also the developer of the recently approved 150 MW Courthouse Solar project.

According to Assistant County Administrator Monica Elder, county staff received the application June 7. The project is currently under review.

According to Elder, after reviewing the Tall Pines application, a letter was sent to NOVI Energy late last week indicating a list that included several items specifically required in the zoning regulations but was omitted from the application.

AUGUST, 2021

• Bacon District Volunteer Fire Department members honored one of their own Saturday, Aug. 21. Wade Stembridge was honored with a surprise celebration, celebrating 41 years as a member, 23 years as fire chief, and his 75th birthday.

• Data from the 2020 U.S. Census shows Charlotte County’s population has declined by 8.4% since 2010. In comparison, the population went from 12,597 to 11,529.

Federal funding to the county may decrease as a result of a decline in population.

As the federal government distributes $1.5 trillion in annual spending across 316 federal programs over the next decade, the collected data from the 2020 census will help guide spending.

Medicaid, direct student loans, highway construction grants, low-income tax credits, and funding that counties receive for everything from local schools to rebuilding community centers and infrastructure are among these programs.

According to Charlotte County Administrator Dan Witt, county officials have not been informed why the population is declining. “We will be inquiring how to appeal/challenge the results as I believe this decline does not represent the actual county population.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, overall, population grows or shrinks through two basic components – natural change (births minus deaths) and migration (people leaving or moving into).

• If you want to experience a taste of the Caribbean, a short drive to Phenix is where one can find a unique hot sauce blend made from turmeric.

Ann Codrington is the owner of Nisani Farm in Phenix, where she grows and harvests Certified Naturally Grown specialty ginger, turmeric, flowers, vegetables and value-added products like hot sauce as well as bath products.

“Our turmeric and ginger are a step above imports,” Codrington said. “We harvest our ginger and turmeric when they are still young, and strive for the highest quality, cleanliness and freshness possible.”

According to Codrington, Nisani Farm celebrates the generations of Belizean women farmers before her.

“Nisani” is from the Garifuna language of Belize and means “my daughter.”

Though Codrington grew up in Los Angeles, both her mother and father were born and raised in Belize.

Codrington’s mother still makes trips back to her homeland, living a portion of her time in the U.S and in Belize.

In 2008, Ann and her husband Bruce purchased land in Phenix and worked many weekends, traveling back and forth from Maryland to build what is now Nisani Farm while still working full-time jobs.


• Sometimes the job of an animal control officer (ACO) has a happy ending.

For Charlotte County’s new animal control officers Elwood Hamlet and Ross Russell that day came recently when the two were able to find a home for a pet canine.

According to Assistant Director Francee Schuma with the Southside SPCA, the owner of a purebred Rottweiler contacted animal control wanting to surrender the dog after the canine allegedly got into a fight with another dog on her property.

“The ACO’s contacted me and unfortunately we were full, but I suggested they contact Shelia Estes, the ACO for Nottoway County who has many contacts with Rottweiler Rescues,” Schuma said.

Schuma says that call set the wheels in motion.

“Less than 24 hours later, a rescuer stepped up to take the dog … but the dog needed to be transported to Baltimore, Maryland.”

The next day Hamlet and Russell set off in a rainstorm to meet the dog’s new owner in Maryland.

• Despite many school districts around the nation having a shortage of bus drivers, Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) is successfully transporting students to and from school without any delays utilizing the 41 drivers it has.

“We have enough drivers to fill our routes,” CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason said. “But we do not have a large substitute driver pool.”

Mason said the school district is always seeking substitute drivers.

According to the superintendent, there have been no delays in the transportation of students, but CCPS has had to utilize administrators and bus shop employees to drive routes when a regular bus driver is not available.

“COVID quarantines and symptomatic drivers may create huge short-term challenges for us this winter in terms of staffing our buses,” Mason said.

According to the district’s superintendent, finding bus drivers is always difficult because of the difficulty in obtaining the necessary CDL license.

• On Monday, Aug. 30, The Randolph-Henry Baseball Program received a certificate from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) office in Greensboro, North Carolina. awarding the 2021 Varsity Baseball Team for earning its first national honor in program history.

The ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award is awarded to teams that have a cumulative 3.8+ grade-point average (on a 5.0 scale).

The Randolph-Henry Baseball Team had 17 players that contributed to such a prestigious honor. Despite the educational challenges of COVID-19, the baseball program put forth some of its best work in the classroom and also through virtual learning.

• Two Board of Supervisors (BOS) quest for more significant setbacks against solar facilities seeking to make Charlotte County their home was defeated Monday, Sept. 12 in a 4-3 vote by the board.

Over the past few weeks, Supervisors Kay Pierantoni and Donna Fore pushed for and received a majority vote for a public hearing on an ordinance that would become stricter.

What came out of the three-hour public hearing was reverting to the planning commission’s original zoning ordinance recommendation, heated conversations, accusations of financial gain, lots of letters read, and citizen after citizen taking to the podium to express support and opposition for solar.