By Debbie Adams
Vinton Town Council held its first meeting of the year on Jan. 3. The first order of business was the Investiture Service for council members Sabrina McCarty and Mike Stovall who were re-elected to seats on Town Council in the November election.
McCarty took the oath of office administered by Town Clerk Susan Johnson as her husband, Chris McCarty, held their Bible. Her term will expire in 2026. Johnson then administered the oath to Stovall, who was supported by his wife Patsy. His term also extends through 2026.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Council member Sabrina McCarty for serving these past two years as Vice Mayor,” said Vinton Mayor Brad Grose. “It has been a comfort to me to know that Sabrina was always there and had my back. She was always there in case of emergency or a schedule conflict. In addition, Vice Mayor McCarty was always available to discuss the affairs of the town of Vinton. She has served the town of Vinton and this council well during her tenure as vice mayor. Thank you for a job well done.”
McCarty received a standing ovation from those present for her service to the town.
“The position of vice mayor in the town of Vinton is certainly one of high honor and respect,” Grose continued. “Serving in the position of vice mayor indicates that you have earned the trust of our citizens through their vote for you to serve on council and the additional support of your fellow council members. Of course, any place of such honor, also carries with it the responsibilities and duties of the position.”
“Every member of town council is eligible and qualified to serve as vice mayor. Council members earned the qualification by being elected by the citizens of the town of Vinton. In Vinton, we have always strived to allow everyone on town council to have the opportunity to serve at least one term in the position of vice mayor.”
Grose then placed the name of Councilman Stovall in nomination for vice mayor and invited other nominations.
“We all know Mike is very highly qualified,” said Grose. “He is very experienced in the operation of public budgets since he was a long-time member of the Roanoke County School Board and is now serving on our town Finance Committee. Mike has been elected by the citizens of the Town of Vinton twice for Town Council and five times to serve on the School Board. Mike has patiently waited his turn to serve, as others with more seniority served in the Vice Mayor position. Now it is Mike’s turn.”
With no other nominations, Stovall was elected and took the oath of office to serve as vice mayor of Vinton through 2024.
“Our town is strong and vibrant because of its citizens, each and every employee who ‘give it the gas’ everyday, and a great town council,” Stovall said. “I am very excited about the next four years.”
Council next appointed the five “council-appointed officers” as required—Town Manager Pete Peters, Treasurer Cody Sexton, Chief of Police Fabricio Drumond, and Town Attorney Jeremy Carroll, who will all serve until Dec. 31, 2024. Peters was also appointed as town clerk effective Feb. 1, 2023, through Jan. 31, 2024, to replace Susan Johnson, who will be retiring.
In another organizational move, Sabrina McCarty and Councilman Keith Liles were appointed to the Community Development Committee, Brad Grose and Mike Stovall to the Finance Committee, and Laurie Mullins and McCarty to the Public Works Committee. Citizen Mandy Fullen was re-appointed to another five-year term on the Board of Zoning Appeals, and Vinton’s Economic Development Specialist Marshall Stanley was appointed to the RVTV Committee.
Council approved the regular meeting schedule for calendar year 2023 with meetings scheduled for the first and third Tuesday of each month, except on the Fourth of July, Aug. 1 for National Night Out, and Election Day on Nov. 7.
Council also approved the holiday schedule for 2023 designating when town offices are closed.
Community Programs Director Chasity Barbour gave council an update on special events in the town and data on the use of the Vinton War Memorial and Charles Hill Community Center.
Barbour expressed her appreciation to the Community Programs staff—Dana Boyd, Amanda Payne, Caroline Loveland, Shaye Hicks, and Gary Houff—for their hard work and dedication to duty. She informed council that the staff is currently “flipping rooms” five to eight times a week for various rentals. That means they are setting tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, greeting all vendors and clients, showing the building for future clients, keeping the kitchen in line for catering, washing all linens, along with organizing the decorations and props for outdoor events.
Council expressed their delight in hearing that the Vinton War Memorial hosted 273 events and the Community Center 394 events in 2022. This includes rentals, senior programs, and town of Vinton events.
There are already 293 events booked at the War Memorial for 2023 in addition to 325 at the Community Center “and that’s if we do not book anything else ‘til the end of June. I know we will hit over 350 booked events at the War Memorial and 450 at the Community Center by June,” Barbour announced.
“We are projected to reach over $200,000 in sales revenue,” Barbour said. “That’s because of the great staff, the support from the town, and the attention to detail by the staff who definitely go above and beyond for our clients. We are happy to say we are booked four months out of 2023 already.”
Council member Laurie Mullins thanked the Community Programs staff for their hard work and commended Barbour, noting that “Chasity’s joy is contagious.”
Town council adopted a resolution transferring $92,618 from Capital Fund Capital Outlay to Capital Fund Contractual Services to purchase 11 pre-empt detectors (Opticoms) for emergency vehicles for the 11 signalized intersections in Vinton.
These devices allow the normal operation of traffic lights to be “preempted” in the path of an emergency vehicle, giving the emergency vehicle right-of-way.
The town currently has five intersections that utilize the pre-empt detectors. They need to be updated and replaced. Town council and staff and emergency service personnel agreed that all 11 intersections need the pre-empt detectors to provide for public safety.
Roanoke County and Roanoke City fire and emergency service vehicles currently rely on emergency traffic signal pre-emption system detectors to assist with the efficient clearing of traffic at signalized intersections to ensure safe and timely response of first responders while also providing for the safety of motorists.
Roanoke County Deputy Chief of Fire and Rescue Dustin Campbell spoke before council and thanked them, Town Manager Peters, and Public Works Director Bo Herndon for their support of the project.
He described the addition of the detectors as an “infrastructure need,” and commented that the pre-empt detectors enhance response time “door to door.” He noted that response time is one of the most dangerous factors in an emergency situation, since “you can’t control others on the road, and you don’t want to create another emergency” while responding to the first.
Finance Director Andrew Keen shared continuing positive financial news. The town has $10 million in cash on hand and “just shy of” $4 million in investments. The town has also been able to negotiate with Wells Fargo Bank to optimize investments and move funds from a non-interest-bearing checking account to a “sweep” account which will accrue interest to the tune of $5800/month ($70,000/year).
Mayor Grose, in his closing remarks, reminded citizens to sign up for the new CodeRED emergency alert system, easily accessible on the town’s website at https://www.vintonva.gov/. One “click” on the homepage takes you to the registration page. Once registered, citizens and businesses will receive a host of emergency alerts via text, email, and/or phone.