Vinton Town Clerk Susan Johnson administered the oath of office to new Town Council member Mike Stovall, returning Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty, and newly chosen Vice Mayor Keith Liles at the Town Council meeting on July 3.
Stovall was elected to council in the May election. In remarks after his swearing in he told those present that as a third generation Vintonite, he is very proud to join council. He graduated from William Byrd High School in 1980.
He said that his father, Joe, who passed away in 2009, had urged him to run for a seat on council.
Stovall credited his wife, Patsy, with helping him through seven elections— including several to the Roanoke County School Board, beginning in 1994 when he was 32 years old. Stovall was the first person elected to serve on the School Board representing Vinton. School Board members had been appointed, not elected, up until that time.
His wife (of 30 years) and two of his three children joined him on the dais for the swearing-in ceremony.
Stovall praised council for all the advances the town has made in the past several years with so many economic development projects complete, or nearly complete, and said he is anxious to help continue the momentum.
“I want to be part of making Vinton better tomorrow than it is today,” said Stovall.
He will serve through June 30, 2022.
Stovall also paid tribute to Councilman Billy Obenchain, who passed away in 2009. He is seated under a plaque in Council Chambers commemorating Obenchain’s time on council. Stovall said that he first met Obenchain when he was 19 years old and serving as a dispatcher for the town. Obenchain convinced Stovall to become a volunteer fireman for the town; he served for 12 years.
Mayor Brad Grose welcomed Stovall to council and thanked him for his service to the community over the years on the police force, on the School Board, and as a small business owner in Vinton.
He went on to say that with the addition of Stovall, council now has a good balance of council members from a wide variety of backgrounds with many different areas of expertise and perspectives. Stovall will be especially helpful with transportation issues, as he is currently Supervisor of Transportation for Roanoke County Schools and knows the territory well, with public safety, and with small business issues.
Sabrina McCarty was sworn in to her second term on council, which also extends through June 30, 2022. She thanked council members, town staff, and the citizens who supported her for “making it an easy decision to run again.” She thanked her husband, Chris McCarty, for his support in urging her to run for council the first time and then again this year. He participated in her investiture service.
Keith Liles was chosen by members of council to serve as vice mayor. His term extends through June 30, 2020.
He said that he became interested in running for council over four years ago when he campaigned with McCarty during her first run for office. He had served as a member of the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce for eight years doing a great deal of volunteer work in the community in that capacity. He was subsequently appointed to the Vinton Planning Commission, where he still serves, and then decided he wanted to become even more involved with town government by becoming a member of Town Council— “to keep the momentum going.” His girlfriend and campaign manager, Lisa Abshire, participated in his swearing in ceremony.
Council approved Barry Thompson to continue to serve as Town Manager, Susan Johnson to continue as Town Clerk, Anne Cantrell to maintain her position as Treasurer/Finance Director, Thomas Foster to continue in his role as Chief of Police, and Theresa Fontana to continue as Town Attorney.
Several changes were necessary on council-appointed committees and commissions due to former Vice Mayor Matt Hare not seeking re-election, Stovall joining council, and Liles becoming vice mayor.
Mayor Grose and Vice Mayor Liles were appointed to the Economic Development Committee along with Barry Thompson and Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters. The mayor and Janet Scheid will serve on the Finance Committee along with Thompson and Finance Director Cantrell.
Stovall and Liles will serve on the Public Safety Committee, along with Chief Foster. Scheid and McCarty will serve with Public Works Director Joey Hiner on the Public Works Committee.
Stovall will complete the term of Scheid on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). McCarty will now serve on the Roanoke Valley Regional Cable TV Committee.
Several VML Policy Committee changes were also approved by council. Mayor Grose will replace Matt Hare on the VML Policy Committee for Finance. McCarty will replace Mayor Grose on the VML Human Development and Education Committee. Stovall will replace McCarty on the VML Transportation Committee.
Pete Peters was appointed to represent Vinton on the now permanent position with the Greater Roanoke Transit Company. Until last month, Vinton shared a seat with the City of Salem on this board, alternating terms. A change in policy by the GRTC gave both municipalities permanent, not rotating seats.
In other council matters, citizen Chris McCarty shared his concerns about increasing vagrancy issues in the vicinity of his business— Grand Rental Storage— in the Lake Drive Plaza area. Repeated instances of what appear to be homeless individuals sleeping in parking lots on private property have occurred in recent weeks and have become a hindrance to his business operations. Council asked Chief Foster to intensify patrols in the area to be of assistance.
In discussion of what is becoming a persistent problem, Foster stated that when the vagrancy occurs on private property, it is necessary for the property owner to make a formal request so that the police can give notice to the trespassers who can then be charged if they do not vacate the property.
The chief said that while there are many homeless shelters in the Roanoke Valley, individuals are not accepted at those facilities when alcohol is involved.
In other business, Brandon Gann from the Finance Department briefed council on the purchase of a Knuckle Boom truck in the Public Works Department. Approximately $170,000 was allotted for the expenditure in the budget, however the Public Works staff was able to find a truck at Mid Atlantic Waste Systems in Roanoke at a lower cost of $156,803.
The Finance Department worked with VML/VACO on financing with RFPs issued. The low bid was from HomeTrust Bank with seven-year financing at a 3.10 percent interest rate. Action will be taken at the July 17 council meeting.
Comments were made that the current truck outlived its financing, lasting for 15 years. Public Works and council anticipate the same outcome with the replacement truck. Purchase of the truck is a planned part of the CIP funding list from the General Fund in the 2018-2019 budget.
In closing remarks, Mayor Grose commended the Public Works Department for quick action when an injury occurred involving one of its crew members. In the past year all employees of the town have received first aid training through a Human Resources Department initiative and were able to put their training to good use. Hiner said that the employee “was fine and back at work a couple of days later.”