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Adams, Merdian reappointed

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By April Wright, Reporter

With three candidates vying for two seats on Galax School Board, incumbents Dr. Jim Adams and Stewart Merdian — whose terms were set to expire June 30 — were reappointed during the Galax City Council meeting on Monday.

Merdian and Adams had expressed interest in remaining on the board, and retired school administrator and educator Patricia Weaver told council during a Feb. 22 public hearing that she believes her level of experience as a former principal, assistant principal, teacher and technology director of Virginia and North Carolina school systems would be beneficial to the board.

Also during the Feb. 22 meeting, council held interviews with each candidate during a closed session.

Council announced the appointments of Merdian and Adams after going into another closed session during Monday's meeting.

“As difficult as it is to choose the members, it is worse when you don't have people to apply,” said Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell. “Fortunately, we had three good candidates to apply... We thank each one for their willingness to do the job. It's an important job to fill and is a backbone of the community.”

Adams has served on the school board for two terms and Merdian has served for one.

The terms are for three years, running July 1 through June 30, 2013.

In other action, council:

• approved a spring brush cleanup and suspended the spring large-item cleanup due to budget shortfalls.

Large-item cleanup, held annually, costs the city about $5,000 in tipping fees alone, said City Manager Keith Barker.

During large-item cleanup this fiscal year, the city spent $5,100 in tipping fees and fuel alone; the year before, $5,400; and two years ago, $10,200.

“We need to be realistic about this year's budget,” Barker told council.

Barker said that, as a cost savings measure, the city would instead implement a brush cleanup to assist homeowners in cleaning up winter debris. Winter debris can be mulched by the city's equipment, and the city would not incur tipping fees, he said.

Council Member John Garner suggested that council designate a place and timeframe in which residents could dispose of their large items.

Barker noted that the city has programs in which residents can rent dump trucks and Dumpsters to dispose of large items.

Council agreed to move forward with the brush cleanup this spring and to later discuss large-item cleanup.

• heard from Kim Brown of Turnkey KB & Associates, regarding the Drug Free Communities grant application.

The program is designed to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat drugs in the community. This would be a regional program, and the funding would provide training to a representative of the managing entity.

The potential funding is $125,000 per year for five years.

• approved signing a proclamation regarding Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, March 8-14. Council also heard from Regina Dalton, who has been diagnosed with MS.

Dalton said she wants to create awareness of MS.

“MS is difficult to diagnose due to different symptoms,” she said. “It is also very expensive to treat. We pray for a cure, but we need funds to find a cure.”

Dalton said her medication costs $36,000 per year to treat the illness.

“Signing this proclamation will let people know that Galax supports us,” she told council.