Local News

WISE — Some Wise County Board of Supervisors members showed disagreement on Thursday during a special-called board meeting to discuss a new site and building for the county Department of Social Services.

The meeting — requested by District Three board members J.H. Rivers and Chairman John Schoolcraft — started with its first split when District Four Supervisor James Lawson voted against the board going into closed session to discuss progress on a potential site for Social Services.

The supervisors in May scrapped a February plan to convert the former J.J. Kelly High School in Wise into a multi-agency facility to house Social Services, county administration offices and potentially the School Board and Health Department.

County Administrator Mike Hatfield was told by the board in May to work with Social Services officials to identify possible sites for a new building.

Lawson did stay behind closed doors with the board and engineering firm Thompson & Litton board chairman Ron Helton and senior project manager Richard Houchins for 90 minutes. The board voted unanimously that the meeting complied with state law on the specific topic.

A unanimous board vote will have Hatfield check on an extension of the current DSS lease for the former Sykes Enterprises building in the Lonesome Pine Technology Park and to “exercise due diligence” on a new site. The two-year lease for DSS is with the county Industrial Development Authority and expires in April 2021.

The board fractured on its final vote of the night — requesting a preliminary architectural report on a “site one” for a new DSS building. Supervisor Rivers, District One Supervisor Bobby Cassell and District Two board vice chairman Steve Bates voted against the report on a 5-3 passage.

Hatfield said after the meeting that the potential site is located within the town of Wise.

In other business, Hatfield said after the meeting that the county administration offices are still closed as officials monitor case increases in Wise County. The pandemic county case total, according to the Virginia Department of Health, stood at 75 — a 47-case increase since July 1.