Leaders meet to discuss Martinsville-Henry County reversion

If this happens, this will be the largest reversion in Virginia’s history

The stage is fully set for reversion in Martinsville, turning the city into a town in Henry County.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The stage is fully set for reversion in Martinsville, moving the city into a town in Henry County.

The city isn’t growing, pockets aren’t that deep, and something needs to be done.

“At some point in time your pot is gonna run dry and you’re going to be left in a really bad position,” said Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson.

Tuesday, Martinsville and Henry County officials presented a settlement agreement to the state’s commission on local governments.

“Everything that the city currently does with the exception of schools and constitutional functions which includes courts. Everything else remains the same,” said Leon Towarnicki, Martinsville city manager.

If Martinsville becomes a town – it will have a police department but no sheriff’s office. Those deputies would likely be without a job. The court system in Martinsville would also dissolve, and the county system would take over. In total, 70 out of 80 positions would be gone.

Martinsville City Public Schools would also be no more, which seemed to be the biggest obstacle.

“Residents of the town will now be served by the County school system,” said Towarnicki.

Henry County schools would get three buildings from the city system and all of its students. The hope is that Martinsville schools staff and other city employees who may lose their jobs can be hired by the County.

The county also takes over the social services and health department.

“A lot of people get very emotional, but I have to take the emotion out of our consideration. I have to look at the data and the statistics and the facts and the history, and what’s best to move our community forward,” Towarnicki said.

The biggest question is: When will this go into effect?

The city wants one date while the county wants another. The city is requested a reversion start date of July 1, 2022, but the county does not believe everything can be in place by then.

It’s ultimately up to the state and leaders haven’t ruled yet.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.