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2017-12-20 / Featured / Front Page

Joe Casey: County is making progress

BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER


County Administrator Joe Casey addresses the Chesterfield Chamber last week. 
ASH DANIEL County Administrator Joe Casey addresses the Chesterfield Chamber last week. ASH DANIEL County administrator Joe Casey painted a rosy picture of Chesterfield last week during his State of the County address, touting schools, state money garnered for transportation, sports tourism and the government’s triple-A bond rating.

At the event, which was hosted by the Chesterfield Chamber and ChamberRVA at Chesterfield Career and Technical Center @ Hull, Casey cited a litany of the county’s accomplishments from the past year. Discussing first responders, he highlighted the county’s new police chief, training tower, added safety measures and a low crime rate. He also noted an increase in starting pay for first responders, saying, “We need to recruit the best. We need to retain the best.”

Speaking about the school system, Casey mentioned that all Chesterfield public schools are now accredited, scores on Standards of Learning tests have improved, 53 percent of graduating students achieve advanced diplomas, and the system has a more than 90 percent on-time graduation rate. He also mentioned the ongoing construction of new schools, saying the county was extending the lifetime of some projects by building new schools instead of renovating old ones.

As for transportation, Casey said, “Chesterfield County probably read the rules better than anyone else,” regarding the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program, securing more than $70 million from the state in commitments for projects, the highest of any locality in Virginia.

“They [have now] changed the rules so Chesterfield cannot do as well in the future,” Casey said. “I view that as the ultimate compliment.”

He added that pedestrian access has become a concern in the county.

“We’re trying to create sidewalks where they need to be,” he said.

Regarding alternate forms of transportation, Casey said the county was doing more to promote Access Chesterfield, a shared ride service for people who are over age 60, disabled or are of low income.

Concerning business, Casey said unemployment was at a 10-year low, and that sports tourism has made an $81.7 million regional impact in fiscal year 2017. He touted the fact that Niagara Bottling’s manufacturing operation in the county had gone from permitting to production in just 260 days as a sign that Chesterfield is pro-business. He noted that the county is lopsided when it comes to jobs: to make the number of jobs in Chesterfield equal to the size of its workforce, the county would need to add 48,000 new jobs.

Casey also mentioned the county’s triple-A bond rating, and that the coming year should see the opening of the Chester Arts Center and the Richmond Volleyball Club on Midlothian Turnpike, near Stonebridge Shopping Center.

Danielle Fitz-Hugh, the new president of the Chesterfield Chamber, was pleased with Casey’s remarks.

“It really highlights all of the great assets in the county,” Fitz-Hugh said. “I’m appreciative of the proactiveness of the county in leading the way, and not just waiting to follow.”

Dorothy Jaeckle, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors, was complimentary of Casey after his address.

“The county’s doing very well,” she said. “Joe’s been a great leader.” ¦

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