Tethering companion animals now has restrictions in town

Vinton Town Council adopted an ordinance amending the Town Code on the tethering of animals during its April 3 meeting.

It is now unlawful for any owner of a companion animal to tether the animal more than three cumulative hours during the day between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.; at any time between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.; at any time if the animal is sick, injured, or in heat; and at any time if the animal is four months of age or younger.

Violation of this ordinance will now become a civil violation subject to a fine of $150.  Councilwoman Janet Scheid noted that this ordinance was especially timely as April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

In other business, council received its annual update from Beth Doughty of the Roanoke Regional Partnership of which Vinton is one of eight participating governments. She stated that business investment in the region in 2017 represented $378 million in annual economic impact and 1,461 direct and indirect jobs.

Doughty touted the many assets of the region including the Blue Ridge Marathon, the Go Fest event at River’s Edge, and the vast improvements in facilities and programming at Explore Park.

She paid special attention to the Deschutes Go Cross Race in Virginia’s Blue Ridge on Labor Day weekend in Roanoke where professional cyclists from all over the United States will race for a $10,000 purse on Virginia’s only cyclocross course. She hopes that the Go Cross event will become as popular as the marathon in time, attracting visitors from across the nation.

Council issued several proclamations recognizing groups and events. The Town of Vinton has once again been designated as a Tree City USA. To qualify for this recognition, the town is required to hold an Arbor Day Celebration, along with tree plantings and tree education outreach on a yearly basis. Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan announced that this year’s Arbor Day celebration will take place on April 18 at the Charles R. Hill Senior Center at 11:30 a.m.

The Arbor Day celebration will feature the Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church preschool and a visit from Smokey Bear. The ceremonial dogwood tree will be planted at the Senior Center, with 10 Autumn Blaze Red Maples to be planted along Walnut Avenue and the Glade Creek Greenway by Public Works personnel. McMillan mentioned that Vinton now has the advantage of having a Tree Arborist, Jason Davison, in the Public Works Department.

Kathryn Sowers, spokesperson for the GFWC Woman’s Club of Vinton addressed council on the issue of child abuse and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Prior to the council meeting, members of the Woman’s Club, town staff, and council planted a pinwheel garden in the Municipal Building flower garden to promote awareness of the cause.

Vinton Police Chief Tom Foster shared a quote which fit aptly with the theme of preventing child abuse: “It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult. Choose your words wisely.”

Aleta Coleman, Chief of Emergency Operations at the Roanoke County Emergency Communication Center (ECC) , accepted a proclamation from council recognizing the week of April 8-14 as National Safety Telecommunicator’s Week. She informed council that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call–made in Haleyville, Alabama on February 16, 1968. With her were several members of the 2017 ECC Team of the Year including Craig Sheets, Taylor Ralph, and Elizabeth Middleton.

Finance Director/Treasurer Anne Cantrell announced that the town has received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for their Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget. This is the second year the town submitted for the prestigious award, and the second year they received it. Mayor Brad Grose thanked the Finance Department for their hard work required to qualify for the award. Cantrell thanked council, town management, and all departmental staff for their support in what she described as a “whole team effort.”

In the Citizen’s Comments and Petitions portion of the council meeting, citizen Danny Harrison asked council to take action concerning the dangerous traffic intersection at the corner of Hardy Road and Vinyard, where Bojangles’ and McDonald’s are located.

Town Manager Barry Thompson told those present that this issue is already on the agenda for the first meeting of the newly formed Highway Safety Committee which meets on April 10. There was the suggestion of delaying the green light from one direction to improve safety at the crossing which has been the scene of many accidents over the years. Harrison was invited to attend the safety committee meeting.

Town Council held a public hearing on setting the real estate and personal property and machinery and tools tax rates for calendar year 2018. There were no comments from citizens. Council adopted an ordinance maintaining the current real estate tax rate of $.07 per $100 of assessed value. The Town of Vinton’s real estate assessment (minus new construction) increased by approximately 2.22 percent for 2018 resulting in increased revenues of $7,266 for the town.  Assessed values were $477,394,800— an increase of $10,381,200 over 2017.

The current personal property tax rate of $1 per $100 of assessed valuation was maintained as well. Council also set Personal Property Tax Relief at 59.10 percent, a slight decrease from last year.

Human Resources Director Donna Collins briefed council on renewal of the Town of Vinton Employees’ group health insurance with the Local Choice Program for the contract year July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. With rates set to increase by 12 percent in July, Collins has sought input from each town employee on health insurance options being considered. She has held five informational meetings for employees, informing them of the impact the increases will have on their individual paychecks, and asking them to indicate which of four plans they would prefer.

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