By Debbie Adams
On July 6, Vinton Town Council marked the return to almost normal with its first in-person meeting in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building in over a year and a permanent change in meeting times (now 6 p.m.).
Vice Mayor Sabrina McCarty read an impressive list of upcoming events scheduled in the community, including Mingle concerts and National Night Out.
Director of Community Programs Chasity Barbour had her own list of continuing and upcoming events at the Vinton Farmers’ Market, the Vinton War Memorial, and the Charles R. Hill Community Center. She noted the increased foot traffic at the Farmers’ Market and an upturn in the number of vendors, and increased rentals at the community center.
Council members and town staff expressed appreciation to Barbour for organizing the “awesome” Fourth of July celebration which drew enormous crowds to Vinton and comments of “the best fireworks display ever in the Roanoke Valley.” Mayor Brad Grose described the holiday celebration as a “slice of Americana,” commenting that “everything this staff touches turns to gold.”
Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond presented Certificates of Excellence to Vinton Police Sgt. Michael Caldwell and Roanoke County Police Officer Taylor Carter for “superior service” while in the performance of their duties.
“On June 13, officers of both the Vinton Police Department and Roanoke County Police Department responded to a distress call for service on what was determined to be a suicide in progress,” said Drumond. “Information was disseminated to the responding officers that a subject wanted to end his own life. The officers’ actions leading up to the distress call were critical and would ultimately define the successful nature of such a critical incident.
“The value of human life is not calculated by personal achievements or the position you hold in society,” Drumond said. “Despite varying moral belief systems, we can attribute that our lives are extraordinarily valuable–a glorious gift from our Creator best served by noble actions.
“In our profession, the value of human life is at the heart of every law enforcement professional. Over the course of our lives, we hear that serving for a cause greater than oneself is the key to a fulling life– I agree with that sentiment. The achievable aspects of fulfillment in our own personal lives are attributed to how we choose to serve others. The key aspect is to do it with sincerity and with no expectation of reciprocity. Often, in our profession, we are challenged with circumstances where the very person we engage with is in critical need. In this very case, their life may depend on it.
“As mentioned, our lives are best served when we use it to the help others and do good in this world,” Drumond continued. “Always seek to be a giver; it will be a reward beyond measure. On that date, Sgt. Michael Caldwell and Officer Taylor Carter’s actions gave someone another chance at continuing their own life. Throughout our careers we are left to wonder if the service we provide makes a difference in the community we serve and the citizens we come in close contact with. On June 13, 2021, both Sgt. Michael Caldwell and Officer Taylor Carter can rest assure that their actions did just that. Their service displayed the textbook definition of heroism.”
Vinton Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan briefed council on the staff allocation of FY21 Virginia Stormwater Local Assistant Fund (SLAF) grant funds for a stream restoration project that will allow for the removal of pollutants (sediment) in order to meet the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit requirements.
In May, staff contacted Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI), for engineering services related to the development of a conceptual stream restoration plan for an SLAF grant application regarding potential sites to reduce pollution from stream run-off.
Staff and the consultants visited multiple sites to determine the most appropriate location for such a project, including Glade Creek at the proposed Glade Creek Greenway Phase 2B, the Tinker Creek Canoe Launch site, Wolf Creek at Washington Avenue, the Hargis property behind River Park Shopping Center, the Mansard Well site, and Woodland Place.
The project team discussed multiple goals and objectives for potential restoration sites including sediment load reductions, flood mitigation, infrastructure protection, habitat creation, and recreational opportunity enhancement. Since the town would be seeking state funding, achievable sediment load reduction relative to the project cost was a major driver in assessing individual sites.
WSSI recommended a further study of the Woodland Place site and the Hargis property since those two have the most potential for pollutant load reductions. Based on further analysis, the Woodland Place site was selected for the SLAF application. The Woodland Place facility is in essence losing its parking lot due to erosion.
Council was somewhat taken aback by photographs of the extensive erosion at the site. The estimated total project cost is between $425,000 and $535,000, with a 50% match requirement by the town (a cost of between $212,500 and $267,500).
McMillan also briefed council on the staff application for allocation of VDOT Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program funds for the proposed Hardy Road/Dillon Woods crosswalk, which is due on October 1.
The town was awarded funds of $183,000 for the project in 2017. By December 2020, the projected cost had increased to $410,000. On June 28, it had increased to $497,611, leaving a shortfall of about $315,000.
Staff submitted a pre-application on June 14 with a request for $194,000 in funding and plans to increase that request to $252,000 by October 1. TA program funds require a 20% match ($63,000). Staff has also submitted a request to the RVTPO for this shortfall to be funded under the FY22 Highway Infrastructure Program Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The final briefing of the meeting was presented by Town Manager Pete Peters, concerning a proposed parking and maintenance contribution agreement between the town and Vinton Baptist Church.
The town has worked closely with Vinton Baptist in the past to have the church parking lot available to the public for special events and downtown merchant parking. The town will provide a financial contribution to assist in maintenance activities including crack sealing, spray sealant over the entire parking lot, and restriping. Peters said that use of the parking lot has been a critical component of many town-sponsored festivals and special events, as well as use by employees of downtown merchants during the work week.
Under the proposal the town would contribute a one-time payment of $3,427 (50% of the total estimate) to perform the maintenance for a three-year period.
Peters said that the town also plans to propose a similar agreement with Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church, whose parking lot is used for town events—such as the Fourth of July celebration.
Council took action on an ordinance changing the town elections from May to November, beginning with the November 2022 elections in accordance with a new state law.
Council members adopted resolutions rescinding emergency declarations and ordinances put in place due to COVID-19.
Peters updated council on plans for reconstructing Mountain View Road. VDOT and the Vinton Public Works Department will be completing an analysis of the road conditions below the surface to determine the extent of the project. A consultant has been hired to complete the necessary boring for the assessment. Peters noted that the road rebuilding is a priority project for the town and that he would like to have “a good plan in place” when funding becomes available, potentially through state or federal dollars, as discussions continue on those allocations.