The President’s Post

March 23, 2015

By Penny Gross
VACo President

One more way to serve

Elected county officials across Virginia often wear more than one hat as part of their duties and responsibilities.  Planning District Commissions, hospital boards, appointments to state boards of local interest are but a few of the opportunities for county officials to further serve the interests of their constituents and bring the local perspective to regional and statewide bodies.  VACo can help.

The six Virginia members of the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) to the Chesapeake Executive Council are appointed by the Governor to represent the Commonwealth; currently, four of those six members have strong VACo connections.  Supervisors Ruby Brabo (King George County) and Janine Burns (Mathews County), and Larry Land (VACo staff), were appointed to LGAC by Governor McAuliffe last fall; I was reappointed by the Governor, and have served on LGAC since my initial appointment by Governor Mark Warner.  It is Virginia’s turn to chair LGAC, and Janine Burns was elected earlier this month to chair for the coming year.  Ruby Brabo continues to serve as vice chair of LGAC’s Virginia delegation.

LGAC meets quarterly around the Chesapeake Bay watershed, joined by local elected officials from Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, as well as EPA staff from the Chesapeake Bay Program, which provides funding for LGAC activities.  Discussions to include representation from the headwaters states of West Virginia and New York are underway.  There are 1800 or so units of local government, and 600-plus mostly volunteer organizations, in the watershed, all trying to work together, somehow, to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.

It is a daunting task, but one that has economic, as well as environmental, benefits.  Expanding public access to the Bay may mean installing a new boat ramp or trail that will help increase tourism, thereby adding new dollars to the local economy.  Tree planting and riparian buffers bring a lot of “bang for the buck,” reducing storm runoff, lowering energy costs, meeting national ambient air quality standards.  But they also encourage collaboration among governments, nonprofits and individual citizens to get the job done. Log on to www.chesapeakebay.net for more information about LGAC, Bay restoration and what these partnerships are all about.

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