WYTHEVILLE, Va. – The Wythe County School Board recently announced that the board is considering the pros and cons of renovating county schools in Wytheville versus consolidating the facilities of George Wythe High School and Scott Memorial Middle School.

According to school board statements published in a March 11th article of the Wytheville Enterprise, the combined preliminary costs of renovating Scott Memorial Middle School and George Wythe High School is estimated to cost $21.5 million, as opposed to a $45 million price tag attached to constructing a consolidated facility, housing Scott Memorial Middle School and George Wythe High School.

“No one is debating whether or not improvements need to be made to the school-facilities inside the town limits, but it’s necessary to take a hard look at how best to modernize these schools in order to be the most cost-effective,” said Tim Reeves, chairman of the Wythe County Board of Supervisors.

County leaders estimate that in order to build the $45 million consolidated school complex in Wytheville – as opposed to renovating the two schools – a $0.15 real estate tax increase would be necessary (an increase of $150 per $100,000 of home value on annual real estate taxes).

Recognizing the significance of the decision, the county’s Board of Supervisors has reached out to the public through an online poll, requesting the public’s feedback.

The county has launched an online poll on its official news site, www.WytheTheNews.com, asking residents a simple question: “Would you be willing to support the construction of a $45 million new school complex in Wytheville if it meant having to pay an increase of $150 per $100,000 of home value on your real estate taxes each year?”

The poll is open to county residents only and only one vote per residential address will be accepted (participants must enter their street address). County citizens who wish to vote in the poll may do so at the following link: https://wythethenews.com/wythe-county-school-construction/ 

Under the Code of Virginia, the county’s Board of Supervisors is responsible for funding the county’s school system.

Presently, the Wythe County Board of Supervisors is funding the county’s School Board at approximately +$15.7 million annually, nearly two-times the state’s mandated rate.

Renovating or consolidating schools in Wytheville is just the latest phase in the county’s dedication to modernize the county’s fourteen schools – two years ago the county funded renovations to Sheffey Elementary School and Rural Retreat Middle School.

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Wythe County Parks & Recreation Seeking Seasonal Help

Wythe County Parks & Recreation recently announced that the department is seeking to fill several part-time, seasonal positions.

These positions include the following jobs at the Rural Retreat Lake Park: campground manager, clerk, maintenance person, pool manager and lifeguards.

Last year, the Rural Retreat Lake Park was named by the Virginia Tourism Corporation as one of the Commonwealth’s “13 Favorite Campgrounds” and is visited by thousands of families each year.

In addition to seeking help at the county’s 74-site campground, the county is also seeking referees and umpires for the upcoming sports seasons.

Individuals interested in making application for the positions are encouraged to fill out an application available online (www.WytheCo.org) or at the county administrator’s office (located at 340 S. Sixth St., Wytheville, VA).

Should any resident have a question regarding the open positions, they are encouraged to contact Kevin Williams, 276-223-4519.

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Bracket Buster Stephen F. Austin: BORN IN WYTHE COUNTY

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – According to ESPN, 91.2% of all NCAA Tournament brackets had the West Virginia Mountaineers beating Stephen F. Austin State University in the first round of NCAA championship playoffs.

The Mountaineers, who were runner-ups in the Big XII Conference, came into the first round heavily favored over the Southland Conference’s SFA Lumberjacks.

Unfortunately for WVU Coach Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” squad, the Lumberjacks of Nacogdoches, Texas, forced the Mountaineers to turn the ball over 22 times, advancing to round two of the NCAA Tournament by a decisive 70-56 victory over the Mountain State’s flagship university.

As the nation’s basketball fans find themselves asking the question, “Who is Stephen F. Austin?” tourism leaders in Wythe County, Virginia, are eager to step up and offer an answer!

Stephen F. Austin was born on the banks of the New River in November 1793, in the Wythe County community of Austinville, Virginia.

The son of early pioneers, Austin’s family eventually moved to Missouri before relocating in the largely unsettled expanse of Texas.

Stephen’s father had hopes of colonizing the region in the days ahead, however, he died in 1821 having never realized his dream of settling the vast territory known as “Tejas.”

Persuaded by a letter from his mother, Wythe County native, Stephen F. Austin set out to fulfill his father’s dream. Under Austin’s leadership, the Texas colony grew from three-hundred to over 11,000 by 1832.

Soon the colonists found themselves in a state of war with the Mexican government, the same nation that had originally encouraged them to settle the land. Austin briefly commanded Texan forces in late 1835. Under his leadership, colonists secured a decisive victory near modern-day San Antonio, during the Siege of Bexar.

In the spring of 1836, Texas’ sovereignty was officially recognized and the war for Texas independence was over.

Austin was appointed to serve as the independent nation’s first secretary of state. Tragically, Austin would serve only two months in this position before dying unexpectedly – after catching a severe cold in December 1836. The Wythe County native’s last words were, “The independence of Texas is recognized!” Upon hearing of Austin’s death, President Houston ordered an official statement proclaiming: “The Father of Texas is no more; the first pioneer of the wilderness has departed.”

Nearly two decades ago, local citizens in Wythe County, with help from donors in Texas, erected a marble monument on the banks of the New River in Austinville, Virginia, recognizing the Father of Texas’ birthplace.

“The monument is truly one of the most beautiful sites in all of Southwest Virginia,” said Wythe County Tourism Director Jeremy Farley. According to Farley, many of the original caretakers of the private-monument are aging and no longer capable of maintaining the memorial. “Earlier this year, we issued a call to a new generation of county residents to take the lead on keeping the site up – the response has been overwhelming.”

The State of Texas recently donated a Texas flag to the monument that flew over the Texas Statehouse and Farley said Congressman Morgan Griffith’s office has donated an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol Building; Delegate Jeff Campbell has secured a Virginia flag as well.

“The Stephen F. Austin Memorial is just one of many historic Wythe County gems – the Fincastle Resolutions were signed just a handful of miles from the monument: a document that is said to have been an inspiration for the Declaration of Independence,” concluded the county’s tourism director.

Individuals interested in learning more about restoration efforts of the Stephen F. Austin Birthplace Memorial in Wythe County are encouraged to contact Jeremy Farley (276-223-4522 or [email protected]).

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Jeremy T.K. Farley — March 14, 2016

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Over the past few days, a countless number of Wythe County residents have reported being the target of various phone scams.

Most prevalent of these scams is one in which the caller claims to be calling on behalf of the IRS and threatens to impound personal property belonging to the local resident if his or her instructions are not followed.

Other scams include the caller claiming to be a bonding agent requiring bail money in order to get a family member out of jail, as well as an additional scam in which the caller is claiming to be a representative of Appalachian Electric Power, threatening to cut off electricity to the home or business of the caller if money is not paid.

The Wythe County Sheriff’s Office is advising residents to be aware of these scams and to notify their friends and neighbors – especially the elderly.

As a matter of policy, the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Should you receive any calls you believe may be a scam, you are encouraged to contact the FTC via their website www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or via phone 877-FTC-HELP.  The consumer complaints contact center is open between the hours of 9:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday.

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WYTHEVILLE, Va. – The Stephen F. Austin Birthplace Memorial is nearing its 20th birthday and community leaders in Wythe County are working to ensure the monument is given the attention it so desperately requires.

Stephen F. Austin was born on the banks of the New River in Austinville, Virginia, and in later life he would come to be known as the “Father of Texas”, dedicating his life’s work to colonizing what was destined to be the largest state in the continental United States.

“Austin’s impact upon the world’s history – not just American history – is immeasurable,” said Wythe County Tourism Director Jeremy T.K. Farley, adding, “and he was born right here in Wythe County!”

Recognizing Austin’s contribution to history, civic leaders in Austinville set out to erect a monument in his honor in the mid-1990s and with help from Wythe County, local donors and supporters in Texas, that monument became a reality in 1997.

Unfortunately, over the course of time, many of the original caretakers of the monument aged and reached a point where they were no long capable of maintaining the memorial.

Today, the monument’s flower bed is in need of work, the stones are coming apart at the foundation and the flags of Texas, Virginia and the United States are no longer flying high above the New River.

According to Farley, his office was contacted by several local citizens in the Austinville community who were interested in restoring the memorial back to its original splendor.

In an effort to better organize individuals who may be interested in lending a helping hand, Farley said the Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association, located at 165 S. 11th Street, in Wytheville, has agreed to host a public meeting at 7p.m. on Thursday, March 10.

“The meeting is open to the public and our main goal will simply be to organize ourselves into a single coalition dedicated to repairing and preserving the monument,” said the county tourism official.

According to Farley, several local residents have already been working at the site and the level of interest continues to broaden.

The office of Congressmen Morgan Griffith is donating an American flag that once flew over the Capitol Building to the monument; flags that flew over the capitol buildings of Virginia and Texas are also en route, thanks to the work of Delegate Jeff Campbell and the donation of a Texas-based Stephen F. Austin organization, respectively.

Individuals wishing to learn more about the efforts to restore the monument are encouraged to attend Thursday evening’s meeting or contact Wythe County Tourism Director Jeremy T.K. Farley (phone: 276-223-4522 or [email protected]).

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