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Galax approves Life Center's request

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By April Wright, Reporter

The Life Center of Galax, which began expanding its facility at 112 Painter Street in March, got approval from city council to receive a conditional use permit that would allow the drug and alcohol treatment facility to renovate a house next door for use as administrative offices.

The house at 104 Painter Street adjoins the Life Center property and is located in a medium-density residential district, which permits hospitals.

Acquiring this property would allow the Life Center to relocate offices from a space beside the clinic, which would be demolished during the expansion to create extra parking.

At a recent Galax Planning Commission meeting, neighbor Opal Poff expressed her approval of the project to the commission.

"The Life Center has never bothered us, and the parking is not bothering us," Poff told The Gazette prior to the start of the center’s expansion. "I want to do the right thing. You have to look at every side, and I believe [The Life Center] will stand by me and I know they don't want to hurt me."

The clinic is building a branch onto the facility parallel to the existing wing, creating 60 additional beds for inpatients and bringing the total number of beds to 110.

In other action council:

• recognized Pat Cole, who is retiring as the city's accounts payable clerk. Cole has worked as the clerk since 1984.

Tony Scales, who worked at the Galax Water Treatment Plant as an operator, also retired after 13 years of service.

• recognized council members Bobby Kirby and Helen Kyle for their commitment to council for the past four years. Kyle and Kirby’s first terms on council expire on June 30. They received a plaque for their efforts. The newly elected members, Sharon Plichta and Bill Webb, will be sworn in on July 14.

• held a budget hearing, at which nobody came forward to speak. The city’s 2008-09 budget has been advertised at $17.9 million for the general fund and $4.4 million for the utility fund. City Manager Keith Holland noted that the real estate tax rate dropped from $.70 to $.55 per $100, with no net increase.

• appointed Kirby and Bill Davis to serve on the Galax Industrial Development Authority, Jeff Sharpe to serve on Galax Planning Commission and Plichta to serve on the Galax-Carroll Regional Library Board. These appointments were made due to vacancies on each board.

• adopted a resolution, as requested by the Virginia Municipal League, to encourage Governor Tim Kaine and the General Assembly to resolve the transportation funding gaps during the special sessions that began Monday.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has proposed a six-year planning forecast that reduces funding available for new construction by 44 percent. This reduction delays expected improvements to roadways such as Glendale Road.

VML has adopted a legislative policy statement that supports funding for transportation to be adequate and sustainable. The resolution — which states that any new taxes needed to fund transportation are a responsibility of the state and not local governments — is to be mailed to VML and the legislators representing the city.

• adopted a resolution, as requested by Carroll County, that encourages the Twin County Regional Airport Commission to review its charter. The resolution asks the commission to examine its charter to make sure that all steps are being taken toward economic growth, and to analyze its structure, representation, monetary contributions, voting rights and other necessary functions.

The commission should give an update to its member localities — Galax, Carroll and Grayson counties, Hillsville, Independence and Fries — by Oct. 1.

• voted to transfer lots in the Knob Hill subdivision from the city to HOPE Inc. The city donated 14 acres for the development, which serves low- to moderate-income families build new houses.

Andy Kegley, executive director of HOPE Inc. — formerly Mountain Shelter Inc. — said the agency sold the last two lots it owned earlier this year.

HOPE assists income-eligible families to become homeowners. For more information, visit www.wythehope.org.