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Project News: Odds and Ends

May 27, 2011

7 A.M Thinking Bout all the Comp Plans
Gotta get fresh, gotta get to the town halls
Gotta have my notes, Gotta have agendas
Seein’ all the actions, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, all the staffers rushin’
Gotta get down to the gov center
Gotta get my minutes, I see the Admin

Treasurer in the back part
Registrar in the front part
Gotta make my mind up
Which one do I see first?

Its Friday, Friday
Gotta write posts on Friday
Nobody’s lookin forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Not much to cover on Fridays
Everyone knows all the action happens on weekdays

Bloggin and takin notes
YEAH!
Reading and scanning pages
YEAH!
Type, Type, Scan, Scan
Not much to cover this weekend

Ok, I’m probably late to the Rebecca Black train, but hey, we gotta do something to keep the kids coming back, right? Or in our case, perhaps coming at all……

Anyways, I’m a bit psyched because, hey, I made it a week and a half of county government coverage without my head exploding! Plus its my birthday, but hey, for any proud parent, the kids come first. Judging from the lyrics, you’d think we have nothing to post about. And that’s true to a certain degree–we could talk about media coverage, since the Herald dropped today, but nay nay–we made a promise to Mondays. So with that, a little housekeeping.

First up, another reader question. The Northern Virginia Daily reported that the Warren County Board of Supervisors is holding a public hearing on the conditional use permit for the Regional Jail Project that Shenandoah County is part of. The county is locked into the project, and the facility itself is slated to be constructed in Warren County. From my understanding, Shenandoah County’s job is pretty much done–the next step is whether or not the site for the jail will be approved. But we were wondering–are our readers interested in the final steps of the process? Warren County uses a slightly different process than Shenandoah County. Whereas in Shenandoah County the planning commission and Board of Supervisors hold a joint hearing, in Warren the Planning Commish holds its own hearing, then the Board holds another before final approval. Joint hearings are permitted under state code, but not everybody does it–hence, the difference. So the Warren County Planning Commission has held its preliminary hearing, and granted its approval (note that Planning Commission approval is not binding, only a reccomendation to the governing body), so its on to the Board of Supervisors. They will be holding their hearing on June 21st. So here it is: Do you want us to cover it? Note–there may very well not be any news from this. There may not be a detailed presentation, just the chance for people to speak. But they could go into more detail. Some detail is available here, but again, we wonder: Should we do a special report? Vote in the poll below:

We’re also still looking for feedback in our last set of polls, namely, what meetings you want us to cover. Note that we’ve pretty much already decided to cover Board Work Sessions, when possible, but on the other items, please let us know.

Also, we’ve rolled out a new feature you may have seen tucked away on our front page. By clicking here you can find a handy dandy Google calendar featuring pretty much EVERY public meeting in Shenandoah County…..yes, that includes the towns. Squee! for all you fellow gov geeks out there. Ok, so its not 100% complete….we need to add some of the little committees like Strasburg’s Architectural Review Board, and July may not be 100% accurate, as some committees will take a bye that month (though we already edited for the Board of Supervisors). We’ll also be adding notes for when we’ll be there covering, so check back frequently.

Finally, we’ll be rolling out two new projects this weekend. There will be detailed posts on both, but for right now we’ll just provide a short description of each. The first is What the heck is…..? This will be an irregular series featuring articles describing the myriad issues that local bodies deal with. When lay people look at the agendas and minutes of these bodies, they tend to have alot of “What the heck is that?” moments. Things like PPEA, People Inc, CDBG grants, etc. require explanation to fully understand the impact on taxpayers and citizens. Indeed, even the decision makers themselves need to undergo alot of education (or should, anyways) before they vote on these items. So in that spirit, this series will cover some of these items. We’ll try to explain the best we can but also include supporting documents from the local bodies, links to applicable code sections, links to agencies, and other helpful material. This series is not designed to way in on these issues as being bad or good but rather to inform you as a citizen just what the locality may be getting itself into. Again, we’ll write these as the issues come up, but already the last Board meeting generated five ideas, so yeah…..look for them soon.

Additionally, we’ll be launching “Transparency Report Cards” for the county and towns. In short, this will be a review of the materials that the governments put out there for citizens to review on their websites. Some still view a web presence as a luxury, but as transparency advocates, we view them as vitally important. Sure, all the information is available for people to view at the county government building, but we feel that, frankly, the internet has taken a vital position in people’s lives. Citizens know it is a vast repository of information of all kinds, and even if they don’t have a home internet connection, they’ll still view it somehow, be it at a library or at work. The internet is the first place they look to find out more on a subject, and I strongly believe that it behooves responsible governors to make this information as freely available as possible. So with that, TRCs will rate and grade the internet presence of the various local bodies. we now that there will be something of a subjective angle to this, but that’s why we’re releasing our criteria before we engage in any of these efforts–you’ll have a chance to let us know what’s important to you. Look for this post later this weekend.

Thanks for tuning in, and even if nobody’s in session, it’s still all government and politics, all the time at Shenandoah Sunshine.

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