Supervisors hear about Riverside Jail agreement, approve $3K bonuses for deputies

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On Oct. 27, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors heard about a two-year agreement regarding the Riverside Regional Jail and also approved $3,000 bonuses for sheriff’s deputies.

The two-year consent agreement between the state and the jail, which had 414 Chesterfield inmates as of Oct. 27, effectively ended a probationary period due to three inmate deaths from 2019-2020, according to attorney Jeff Gore.

However, supervisors Jim Ingle (R-Bermuda) and Chris Winslow (R-Clover Hill) disagreed with that assertion.

The 20-page agreement established three internal audit procedures, Gore said.

“They’re still on probation with me,” Winslow said. “Only time will tell if this consent order is going to work.”

The agreement was official as of Sept. 24, Gore said.

Sheriff Karl S. Leonard said that, as of Oct. 27, the remainder of the county’s inmates were at the Chesterfield Jail (358), Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover County (30) and Southside Regional Jail in Emporia (6).

Leonard said the state has been doing a good job of taking more of its Department of Corrections inmates from Chesterfield-associated jails. Only 96 such inmates were “out of compliance,” he said.

He added that, due to a new state law, inmates will begin receiving more “good time credit” as of July 1 next year. The new law will modify good time credit from 4.5 days per 30 days served to 15 days per 30 days served. Leonard estimated that this law would reduce the number of Chesterfield’s inmates by 200 by the end of 2022.

Deputy County Administrator Matt Harris noted that fencing and window repairs at Riverside Regional Jail have been completed.

He added that the sheriff’s deputies’ bonuses were coming from a combination of state and county funding, including $390,000 from the latter.

Redistricting comments

The supervisors held public comment on a proposed draft map for supervisors’ districts that will be up for approval on Nov. 17.

Mike Chernau, senior assistant county attorney, noted that the county has received dozens of comments already through various means.

Five people spoke against the draft on Oct. 27, including former Bermuda supervisor candidate Murti Khan (D). He called the map “politically and racially gerrymandered” and said it was “unethical and unlawful.”

Under the draft map, more than half of the voters could vote for one political party’s candidates (Democratic), but four out of five seats could be from the other party (Republican), he said.

Steve Meadows didn’t have an opinion on the map, but when given a copy at the meeting he said “it seems more of a straightening of lines.” However, he added that he didn’t know what subdivisions were proposed to be moved.

Supervisor James Holland (D-Dale) noted that the maps were reviewed at the supervisors’ September meeting and said there were “minor changes in Dale relative to Midlothian and Clover Hill. I can’t see any gerrymandering.”

An unidentified woman from Midlothian said, “This is a huge difference. This would totally change our votes. It would go red (Republican) for sure.” During the 2019 general election, Leslie Haley (R-Midlothian) defeated Javaid Siddiqi (D), 55.3 to 44.3 percent. In the 2015 general election, Haley defeated Sara Johnson Ward (D), 54.6 to 45 percent.

Denisha Potts of Matoaca said the Chesterfield school board and board of supervisors lack diversity. Potts, who ran for the school board in 2019 against Ryan Harter, asked for more time for citizens to comment.

However, Ingle noted that the supervisors are under a deadline to approve a new map. “A lot of requests I don’t believe are possible legally to achieve,” he said, referring to previous public comments received. He suggested people can submit their own map for consideration, and added that only one other map has been received.

“We didn’t get the (census) data until Aug. 13 because of Covid-19,” Kevin Carroll (R-Matoaca) said.

$20M for turf fields? 

During public comment about items not on the agenda, Bermuda resident Mike Uzel questioned possible approval of $20 million from a $100 million budget surplus for artificial turf fields. This would fund 10 $2 million fields at area high schools.

Uzel said a memorandum of understanding regarding the fields has been agreed to by schools Superintendent Merv Daugherty and County Administrator Joe Casey.

Uzel also questioned spending $27.1 million on supplemental retirement funds for public schools and $48.5 million for the River City Sportsplex on Genito Road and Route 288.

“The board of supervisors needs to reign in county administration and staff,” Uzel said. “$100 million needs to be refunded to the taxpayers.”

More room for chickens

Following a recommendation from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the supervisors voted to expand the run area for chickens from 40 to 56 square feet and to increase the minimum square footage per chicken from 5 to 8 square feet.

In non-agricultural zoned areas, the county allows up to six chickens with no roosters.

County staff noted that previously approved chicken runs and facilities would be grandfathered in by the county.

The supervisors’ next meeting is Nov. 17.

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