Mathews to take part in national health survey

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jul 28, 2010 - 06:05 PM

The Mathews Board of Supervisors got a preview Tuesday of what will be involved in a county-wide federal health survey that will be conducted in Mathews in September.

Photo: Mathews Board of Supervisors chairman Charles Ingram presents a resolution in praise of the late Judy Ward to her sister, Cathryn Drummond, during Tuesday’s board meeting. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Mathews Board of Supervisors chairman Charles Ingram presents a resolution in praise of the late Judy Ward to her sister, Cathryn Drummond, during Tuesday’s board meeting. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

During the July meeting of the board at the historic courthouse, Jack Powers of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey said that NHANES is an important federal study that visits 15 U.S. counties and examines 5,000 people each year to collect information about the health of Americans. He said the information gathered is used to help government officials make policy decisions.

In a video Powers showed, it was pointed out that the 50-year-old survey once found high levels of lead in people’s blood and, based on the results, Congress subsequently passed a law requiring a decrease in the amount of lead in gasoline.

For the survey, a team of interviewers will come to Mathews in September and visit almost 1,300 households to conduct interviews with residents, said Powers.

Of those residents, 450 to 470 will be invited to have a thorough physical examination that will include eye and ear tests, a blood pressure check, blood screening, a bone density test, height and weight measurements, a treadmill test, and a possible dental examination. Each participant will receive up to $100 for taking part in the exam and will be given the results of the tests.

The examinations will be conducted at the Piankatank Ruritan Club in a mobile clinic by a medical team that will include a doctor, nurse, phlebotomist, nutritionist, dentist and other medical professionals, said Powers.

The results of the test are confidential, said Powers, with laws to protect the participants. The names are removed from the examination materials before they’re sent to the Centers for Disease Control, where the results are compiled and a database is created. He said that medical journals and others do work based on the database.

Powers likened the health survey to the U.S. Census, and said it has become known as the nation’s "health census." He said that the survey has been conducted in other nearby counties in recent years, but because of its confidential nature he couldn’t say which counties were used.

The only drawback to the county, said Powers, is that the results aren’t released to the locality because it’s not a study of Mathews but of the nation as a whole.

The good thing, he said, is that "it’s your opportunity to represent America."

Golf carts in Dixie Estates

The board wrangled a bit over a request from residents of Dixie Estates in the upper end of the county that an ordinance be enacted allowing them to drive golf carts on the state-maintained roads in their subdivision.

Lloyd Catlin, president of the Dixie Association, said that the organization had done all the groundwork and had determined that the subdivision falls under all the listed categories that would allow it to be permitted to use golf carts for driving around the neighborhood.

There is only one way in and one way out of the subdivision, he said, so use of the carts would be restricted to within the subdivision. In addition, the carts would be marked and driven only by residents over the age of 16, and the subdivision would pay for any required signs. He said that, in a subdivision with 37 lots, the petition had 30 signatures.

Supervisor Janine Burns moved to allow the use, pending review by any agencies necessary, but the motion failed for lack of a second.

Supervisor O.J. Cole then moved to defer a decision until the complete board could be present (Neena Putt was absent) and look at the details.

During discussion of the matter, Cole said he was concerned about young people driving carelessly and about the implications such an ordinance would have for other areas of the county, such as Gwynn’s Island, where an interest has been expressed in having golf carts allowed island-wide.

In addition, Supervisor Edwina Casey expressed reservations about the speed limit being 25 mph. However, VDOT Saluda Residency administrator Marcy Parker said that 25 mph is the lowest speed limit allowed on state-maintained roads, and Catlin said that golf carts normally reach a top speed of only about 20 mph.

Burns said she didn’t see a need to study the matter further, since the subdivision association had done its homework with a study of its own, and she simply wanted to allow the subdivision to move ahead so it can get "whatever it needs to sign off."

She said the situation in Dixie is different from that on Gwynn’s Island.

"I don’t see how another neighborhood has anything to do with it," Burns said. "Every location will have different issues. They’ve done their work and it’s within the code, and I trust them to manage it."

Cole’s motion to defer the matter failed on a tie vote, with Casey supporting it and Burns and Supervisor Charles Ingram opposing it.

Finally, Burns moved to defer the decision until next month with the stipulation that there would be an understanding that approval or disapproval of the Dixie Estates request would not set a precedent for the entire county. The motion passed unanimously.

Intersection of Routes 3 and 198

Board members once again grilled VDOT’s Parker about the intersection of Routes 3 and 198.

Burns pointed out that there had been yet another accident in the vicinity and wanted to know why a traffic light couldn’t be installed there or the speed limit reduced. She reminded Parker that an initial study of the intersection had determined that a traffic light was necessary, although a subsequent study had found there wasn’t enough traffic at the intersection to justify a light there. A third study confirmed the results of the second study.

Cole said that the third study graded the intersection on the same standards as Richmond, but that the circumstances in Mathews are different and that the intersection is very dangerous.

"We ask you to review it one more time with an open eye to the circumstances in this county," he said. "VDOT preaches safety, and this is an issue that’s getting worse."

However, Parker denied that the intersection was the reason for any recent accidents, explaining that one person was hit while turning into the Get & Zip parking lot, while another recent head-on collision occurred farther down the road.

Burns said that the configuration of roads and businesses at the intersection made it dangerous, and Casey pointed out that the last study was done in the winter, while traffic increases in Mathews during the summer.

Parker agreed to request another speed reduction study for the intersection.

The board also:

—Held a public hearing on and subsequently approved a request from the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center for a utility easement on Maple Avenue;

—Accepted the return of $11,282.70 in unspent revenue from the Mathews County School Board;

—Granted a school board request to remand $12,051.50 in Medicaid reimbursement funds to the school board to help offset health insurance costs for staff;

—Approved the transfer of $85,000 in the budget from money saved on debt service to a line item to pay for a school bus;

—Approved the use of school buses for school-related activities being conducted by the 4-H and Hands Across Mathews;

—Approved the sale of two surplus county vehicles;

—Agreed, at the request of the Mathews Maritime Foundation, to act as the applicant for a River Trails Conservation Assistance Grant to be used to expand the Mathews Maritime Heritage Trail;

—Agreed to support a resolution by the City of Staunton asking the General Assembly and Governor to prohibit predatory, usurious lending practices in Virginia ("payday lending");

—Decided to pay the Commonwealth $51,527 for reduced revenues for the upcoming year in a lump sum rather than having the state determine from which departments the money will be deducted;

—Voted to send a letter to Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb opposing the Public Safety Employer-Employee Act of 2009, which would enable public safety employees to engage in collective bargaining;

—Adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring the late Judy Ward for her many years of service to the county;

—Adopted a resolution in support of reduced mandates for public education in Virginia; and,

—Appointed Thornton M. "Tim" Hill as the citizen member of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission and appointed student representatives to county boards and commissions. Students appointed were: Sydney Alexis James, planning commission; Margaret Grace Scribe, board of zoning appeals; Russell Adam Reed, wetlands board; Daniel Kevin Mitchem, parks and recreation advisory board; Conor Fergus Corrigan, library board; Laura Nicole Morris, social services board; and Haley Kristine Kujawski, Main Street Committee.