The Town of Vinton and the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the town’s continuing progress at the annual State of the Town Address at the Vinton War Memorial on March 10.
Angie Chewning, Executive Director of the Chamber, welcomed guests including members of Vinton Town Council, the Town leadership team and staff, Chamber officers and board members and local business owners, as well as representatives from Roanoke County, Roanoke City, and the City of Salem, along with regional partners.
Chewning said she recently came across an outdated Vinton sticker in her desk that proclaimed Vinton as “the best kept secret in the Valley,” noting that is certainly no longer the case.
She introduced Vinton Mayor Brad Grose who delivered the address on the incredible growth the town has made over the past several years with no slowdown in sight.
Grose began, as he almost always does, by thanking God for blessing the Town of Vinton. He thanked the community “for your continued perseverance and positive outlook over the past two years that have been filled with many obstacles and challenges.”
He praised the Leadership Team and each and every department in the town for their contributions to the town’s success, and for their professionalism, their teamwork, and their hard work. Those recognized included Town Manager Pete Peters, Town Clerk and Executive Assistant Susan Johnson, Chief of Police Fabricio Drumond, Human Resources and Risk Management Director Donna Collins, Assistant Town Manager Cody Sexton, Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan, Public Works Director Bo Herndon, Community Programs Director Chasity Barbour, and Treasurer/Finance Director Anne Cantrell.
He thanked the Chamber for their dedication to restoring many programs and events that had been cancelled or delayed by the pandemic, and business owners for their devotion to the community.
“I certainly want to recognize and thank my fellow Council Members for their continued vision, leadership–Vice Mayor Sabrina McCarty, Council Member Keith Liles, Council Member Mike Stovall and Council Member Laurie Mullins. You all care so deeply about Vinton and I am extremely fortunate to serve alongside you.”
“I want to express our sincere appreciation to the public safety and emergency service employees for your service to this community and the personal sacrifices you’ve made in taking care of your fellow citizens,” Grose said.
He acknowledged the numerous regional partners who have worked so closely with the town, with special thanks to Roanoke County for their partnerships in numerous redevelopment initiatives in recent years—projects which would not have been feasible without the support of the Board of Supervisors and the County’s Administration. He thanked the school system for updating school facilities in the Vinton area.
“Our local volunteer and non-profits continue to fill gaps in local services and play a special part in our community. Thanks to the Vinton Historical Society for operating the Vinton History Museum; the Advancement Foundation for hosting the HIVE and the annual Gauntlet Competition; and the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club for the new bus shelters coming soon to Lake Drive Plaza and near the PFG plant.”
“New in 2021 was the addition of the Boys and Girls Club After-School Program at Vinton Baptist Church. I am very encouraged and excited by the positive influence this program is having on children of this community.” Vinton will host the ‘4 on the 4th Run’ event this July 4th as a primary fundraiser for the Club.
“We are very proud of our Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Drumond, that continues to represent the Town positively and attracts and retains some of the very best in talented officers to keep our community safe,” Grose continued. “Our officers constantly engage with the citizens through their Community Policing Programs, school outreach and neighborhood programs. The Chief has plans for an even more visible presence in 2022, such as the Coffee with a Cop program that will launch later this month in conjunction with our Chamber.”
“In 2021 the Police Department completed the update of their entire fleet through a vehicle lease program,” the mayor noted. “Recently they began to implement body-worn cameras and updated in-car cameras, with the help of a law enforcement grant, and have started the process to continue the department’s reaccreditation.”
“The Planning and Zoning Staff oversees the Town’s Code Enforcement, stormwater permitting and manages the construction permitting with Roanoke County,” said Grose. “Perhaps their most important achievement over the last year was their effort, along with the Planning Commission, to complete the first comprehensive update of the Town’s zoning and subdivision ordinances in more than 20 years. These important land use policies, protect property values and promote responsible residential and commercial development activities within the community.”
“This department is also responsible for many transportation planning efforts. In the year ahead, citizens can look forward to the construction of the next phase of the Glade Creek Greenway, several new Bike & Pedestrian Improvements along Walnut Ave and two new signalized crosswalks for Gus Nicks Blvd and Hardy Road. We plan to improve the walkability of our town by providing a safe connection from Vinton’s perimeter neighborhoods to its blossoming downtown and public greenway amenities. This will help to promote healthy and active lifestyles and encourage new families to consider Vinton as the place to establish roots.”
Grose commended the Finance/Treasurer’s Office, for their efforts on financial oversight, daily payment collection, attention to customer accounts and handling the Town’s accounts payable and receivables. The department was again recognized in 2021 by GFOA for the Financial Audit and for the Budget Document. “Not every locality receives these awards, and they are a testament to our staff going above and beyond to promote transparency! The department will begin a much-needed software update to modernize our back-end office operations that will provide benefits to both our employees and to the citizens we serve.”
Grose thanked Human Resources and Risk Management Director Donna Collins, “who successfully managed another year of pandemic guidelines, contact tracing and safety protocols across all work areas. In addition, she assisted in converting the Town’s employees to a PTO system and creatively managed employee trainings via virtual or small work groups, all while conducting her primary functions of recruitment in an ever-increasing competitive job market.”
“In 2021, our Town Clerk and Executive Assistant to the Town Manager Susan Johnson was instrumental in facilitating the purchase and installation of equipment and the process to begin broadcasting our meetings on Facebook Live, which has been a welcomed addition to our goal to be more accessible to our citizens.”
Grose recognized the Community Programs Department for their “great work and creative efforts in 2021 to reopen the Town’s public facilities,” to resume hosting meetings such as State of the Town, restoring rentals at the Charles R. Hill Community Center, and helping to return many of the beloved community events such as the Vinton Dogwood Festival, the July 4th Celebration, Fall Festival, the Christmas Parade and the second year of the Santa Crawl.
“Our largest single department, and perhaps the most visible, is Public Works,” the mayor continued. “These professional men and women do an amazing job in providing many of the direct services that our citizens rely on almost daily. This includes the water and wastewater system (for now), storm-water facilities, refuse and recycling, and maintenance of our roads, alleys and sidewalks to include street sweeping and snow plowing.”
“In 2021 several major storm-water facility replacement projects were completed and over $750,000 of street paving. The Department is overseeing two major projects–the replacement of all water meters, and the 3rd Street Lift Station upgrade. In addition, the traffic signals at Clearview Drive, PFG, and 3rd Street were recently replaced.”
“Projects to look forward to in 2022 include an additional $800,000 of paving and the replacement of traffic signals at Vinyard Road, Niagara Road, and Hardy Road,” the mayor said. “The new signals include technology that will allow the intersections to be synchronized for better flow of traffic. Town staff has also begun working with engineers to design the new roadbed for Mountain View Road. Maintenance will continue until construction can get underway.”
Grose highlighted the transfer of operations of the Town’s water and wastewater utility to the Western Virginia Water Authority effective July 1, 2022. “The town has proudly provided this service for decades, but now the timing is right to make the leap to transfer ownership and operation of the system. By making this transfer now, our water customers can have peace of mind, knowing that the Town’s water supply and delivery will be protected at the lowest possible price through the economies of scale that the Water Authority can provide. We thank Roanoke County for their assistance in achieving this milestone and the Water Authority for their leadership and guidance through the many aspects of converting the system.”
“The Town’s economic outlook is extremely bright, as our financial conditions are in the best shape we have seen in many years! The Town has begun to realize much needed revenue growth, as a result of recent economic development initiatives. It is imperative that the town invest in our public infrastructure through a restored and fully funded Capital Improvement Plan. We must also keep up with rising employee health care, maintain competitive salaries, and simply meet the higher cost of doing business.”
“During 2021 alone, we celebrated many new businesses and expansions including Joe Goodpies and RND Coffee at Vinyard Station, Our Daily Bread, BoomTown CrossFit, Bank of Botetourt, Big Lots, Tractor Supply at Lake Drive Plaza and the 30,000 sq. ft. expansion of Rosie’s, to name a few. This impressive private investment demonstrates that our initiatives and continued public investments are working!”
He went on to list what is on the immediate horizon for 2022. “We will see the next phase of redevelopment of Gish’s Mill, that will result in the preservation of the Town’s founding structure by its conversion into a restaurant, seasonal market, and overnight lodging. The Dogwood Restaurant is planning to open their expanded interior and exterior patio, and 107 South will get underway at the former Star City Playhouse in downtown.”
“In addition, we have several new announcements in store for Vinyard Station and the former Rite Aid Building at Hardy and Clearview Road, and the Vinton/East Roanoke County Hotel that is slated to break ground later this summer at the intersection of S. Pollard and Virginia Ave.”
“We have a lot to celebrate IN Vinton, and we have no plans to slow down. During the next several years you will see a consistent wave of investment in our people, and in the community, to maintain our position as a great place to live and do business and truly solidify Vinton as the IN Place to Be!
Chewning announced during the meeting that the Chamber will be moving from the Charles R. Hill Community Center to a new location at 118 East Lee Avenue in downtown Vinton—closer to the center of action.
She and Chamber Executive Assistant Kathryn Sowers presented a clock plaque to honor Chamber Past President Justin Davison who has served the Chamber as president for five years.
“He has worked tirelessly and effortlessly,” said Chewning. “I am not sure he has ever missed an event or meeting. He gives 100% to his job at Member One and to his community. With his efforts the Chamber has gained new members, sponsors, and great momentum.”
The State of the Town breakfast was catered by Jerry’s Restaurant and Mildred Scott, with flowers by Creative Occasions.