VINTON–Vinton Town Council welcomed two new career firefighters at their meeting on July 7. Lieutenant Chad Helms introduced Andrew McClaugherty and Chad Dailey who “bring a combined 15 and one half years of public safety experience to the Vinton Fire and EMS.”
Their positions are funded by the town in the agreement to partner with Roanoke County to bring 24 hour fire coverage to Vinton and East Roanoke County.
Lt. Helms shared their background experience in public safety to council, saying that he knew the budget decisions to hire new firefighters were difficult for council and he “wanted them to be able to put faces with your decisions and hard work.” Helms thanked Town Council for their continued support of the Fire and EMS.
According to Helms, McClaugherty is 27 years old and a 2006 graduate of Radford High School. He is from Belspring, Virginia, where he still resides. He joined the Fairlawn Fire Department in 2003 at age 15 and a half and then the Regional EMS Incorporated (REMSI) out of Pulaski County. He obtained his EMT-1 certification in 2011 and has earned many other certifications. He comes to Vinton from REMSI where he was a full-time medic. He was hired by Vinton as a Firefighter/Medic. He has been working in Vinton since April of this year and is currently one of their 12 hour personnel, serving on the green shift.
Dailey is 28 years old and a 2005 graduate of Blacksburg High School. He joined the Blacksburg Volunteer Fire Department in 2011 and the Blacksburg Rescue Squad in 2013. He is currently enrolled in EMT-I class and will be testing out in August. Upon completion of his testing Dailey will be an ALS provider at the EMT-I level. He currently holds the EMT Basic Certification (EMT-B) and comes to Vinton from the Carilion Patient Transport Division in Roanoke. He was hired by the town as a Firefighter/EMT and is currently one of the 12 hour personnel on the red shift. Dailey started work in Vinton on June 8. He currently lives in Roanoke.
Mayor Brad Grose welcomed McClaugherty and Dailey saying that they “represent a significant step forward and a significant investment for the town where public safety is our number one priority.”
Vice Mayor Matt Hare said that while locating funding is sometimes tough, the decision to give public safety workers what they need to do their jobs is never a difficult decision.
Councilman Doug Adams commended the entire Vinton Fire and EMS Department for their work on a recent fire on Polk Avenue which could have resulted in the loss of more than one home if not for their good decisions and quick work.
In other action, council adopted a resolution authorizing Town Manager Chris Lawrence to execute a Waterline Extension Agreement with D. H. Griffin Wrecking Co., Inc., located on Third Street. This will allow for the installation of a new waterline to serve a fire hydrant being placed on the property. The fire hydrant is required by the Virginia State Fire Code adopted by the town.
The total cost of the project is $20,000. The town will contribute half–$5,000 upon completion of the project and $5,000 after the business is in operation for one year. The town will own the waterline and the apparatus. The company, which has about a dozen employees, wants to expand its business within the town and install a office and storage building on the property. They are primarily involved with purchasing, recycling, and reselling steel and other metals.
Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan briefed council on possible grants through VDOT for Urban Development Areas (UDAs). Towns the size of Vinton (under 130,000 in population) are eligible for grants of up to $65,000 when they modify their comprehensive plans to include potential growth areas (UDAs).
While Vinton does not have much space for expansion, the town does have corridors and also considerable commuter traffic passing through the town daily which makes it eligible for funding for consultation and assistance. While VDOT calls participation in the grant program optional, in reality localities need to participate in the program to receive VDOT funds.
McMillan also briefed council on the possibility of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Roanoke County allowing the county to administer the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) for the town. The town and county have worked collaboratively on the issue for many years.
Lawrence explained that this would be not only advantageous to the town, but would bring more efficiency and less duplication of services to the local governments. The county has engineers and staff certified to administer the VSMP requirements which the town cannot afford to hire.
Lawrence was appointed to complete the term of Assistant Town Manager Ryan Spitzer on the Greater Roanoke Transit Company board. (Spitzer left Vinton to become Town Manager in Strasburg, Virginia, at the end of June.) Lawrence has already been heavily involved over the past several months in discussions with the Transit Board in talks about sharply rising rates for Valley Metro services. He told council that the talks are proving fruitful and that the town has brought up some innovative solutions to the transit problem in Vinton.
The meeting concluded with council members finalizing the finer points of the process of replacing Councilman Wes Nance who resigned from council effective July 2. Nance moved to Bedford County and no longer met the residency requirements for serving on Vinton Town Council. His term would have expired on June 30, 2016. The seat will be up for election in May 2016 since that is the next scheduled town election.
Council has invited Vinton residents who are interested in filling Nance’s seat in the interim months to submit a Letter of Interest and a notarized State Board of Election Certificate of Candidate Qualification form to Town Clerk Susan Johnson in the Municipal Building by 5 p.m. on July 20. Forms are available online at www.vintonva.gov.
Johnson will collate and package the forms she receives for delivery to the four remaining members of town council that evening—Mayor Brad Grose, Vice Mayor Matt Hare, Councilman Doug Adams, and Councilwoman Sabrina Weeks—for their perusal.
Council will take no action at the regularly scheduled council meeting on July 21, but will hold 45 minute interviews with applicants on July 22 and 23 beginning at 6 p.m. Any applicants unable to be interviewed on those dates will be scheduled for August 5.
On August 5, council plans to discuss the applicants and arrive at a decision on who will be chosen to serve. They will publicly vote on the interim council member on August 10 and announce their decision. The new council member must be chosen and sworn in by August 15—forty-five days after Nance left office. In the highly unlikely event that the four are unable to reach a consensus, Circuit Court Judge Charles Dorsey will appoint the new council member.
Several council members expressed their reluctance to “supplant” the voters in choosing a council member, but vowed to put the interests of the town first in making their selection after a thorough and impartial interview process.