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Chairwoman’s election sparks rules debate in Culpeper

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

For only the second time in its 143-year history, the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors has elected a woman as its chairman.

But Sue Hansohn had no more than thanked her fellow members for their unanimous vote of confidence Wednesday when remarks by one of her colleagues seemed to take the joy out of the moment.

During the rules-adoption process, which is routine at the beginning of each new year, Supervisor Bradley Rosenberger said he would not support the proposed rules because they made no provision for the “recall of a chairman for reasonable cause.”

Both Rosenberger and outgoing Chairman Bill Chase then asked that the rules go back to committee to address this issue and to amend the rules to allow for other changes during the year.

Chase stated, “In D.C., they serve [on government bodies] and they’re in jail.”

Hansohn suggested that the rules presented be adopted and then sent back to committee for review. Any revision could then be made during February’s meeting.

Rosenberger, who has chaired the board on several occasions, replied that he still could not support the rules as presented.

Apparently taking Rosenberger’s remarks as a personal affront, Hansohn, who has been on the board for 17 years and vice-chairwoman for the past two, shot back, “I think I’m good for a month!”

Chase quickly made it clear that he meant no disrespect.

Hansohn would not comment publicly on Rosenberger’s remarks after the meeting and put no great emphasis on the fact that she is only the second woman to hold the position. (Ruth Updike was chairwoman in 1991 and 1992).

“Every member of the board is a unique personality,” said Hansohn, who views her new role as somewhat of a mediator. “Generally we work well together.”

Steve Walker, who is next in line to chair the board under the new rotation-by-seniority plan, was elected vice-chairman.

During the unusually light meeting, about the only other action the board took was to approve a contract for $90,000 with Vision Government Solutions Inc. for a new computerized assessment system for the real-estate assessor’s office.

Although both Walker and Steve Nixon suggested that the $40,000 annual hosting fee (for future years) was too high, the supervisors passed the measure unanimously.

But Nixon expressed caution in accepting the contract.

“That’s a pretty stiff fee,” he said, adding, “Sometimes when we [contract for things] we haven’t thought about they come back to bite us in the butt.”

Nixon also voiced his frustration at the slow progress of the proposed outer loop during a projects update by Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Roy Tate.

“Is there a way the county can maybe do a private construction deal on the road?” he asked. “The money [for the $14 million project] is already available.”

Tate said he would look into the matter.

VDOT is scheduled to start buying right of way for the outer loop this month with construction set to begin next year.

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