By Debbie Adams
Vinton Town Council honored Vinton Police officers and a Finance Department employee for superior service while in the performance of their duties at its meeting September 21.
Police Chief Fabricio Drumond presented Certificates of Excellence to Detective Sgt. Valerie Cummings, Detective Cpl. Andrew DiCarlo, and Finance Department Account Technician Paul Miller for actions they took which helped return a runaway juvenile safely to his family.
In presenting the certificates, Drumond described the situation which led to the awards.
“On July 6, the Vinton Police Department was notified of a missing juvenile in the Town of Vinton,” Drumond said. “Initial reports indicated that a juvenile had left a residence in the Town of Vinton the previous night. Members of our agency immediately began a search for the missing juvenile for what would be the next 72 hours. During the span of three days, both officers and detectives of the Vinton Police Department worked tirelessly for the safe return of the juvenile. Specifically, Criminal Investigations detectives canvassed and re-canvassed areas, interviewed and followed up on several tips, communicated with family members, and patrolled greenways and the Roanoke River. Additionally, cohesive efforts were made with the United States Marshal’s Service, United States Park Rangers, the Department of Social Services, Roanoke County Emergency Communications, and social media outreach with the Aware Foundation.
“With the aid of a Norfolk Southern track supervisor, Det. DiCarlo coordinated a search effort by riding a service vehicle for hours, while canvassing the Roanoke Valley by utilizing our railways. Meanwhile, Det. Cummings followed up on a lead that resulted in a door-to-door effort of checking several downtown Roanoke establishments and interviewing those close to the missing juvenile. Despite hitting inconclusive leads and working long hours, detectives continued to pursue any information and review existing information that could bring new ideas to the search effort. During the span of the search, both detectives sacrificed their personal obligations and committed their service to the safe return of a young community member. Despite many obstacles and challenges, both Det. Sgt.tCummings and Det. Cpl. DiCarlo continued to expand their search efforts. It was clear that they would continue the search until a resolution was concluded.
“On July 9, the Roanoke County Emergency Communications Center dispatched officers to the Vinton Police Department regarding a missing juvenile, reported to be seen in the lobby. It was established that the juvenile was the missing person who members of our agency were searching for.
“Prior to law enforcement contact, Paul Miller recognized a young individual outside our agency and identified him to be the missing person Vinton officers had been actively searching for. It was determined that the missing juvenile came to our agency after he ran out of food and water and was experiencing fatigue.
“What is not documented are the events that occurred before our dispatch center notified officers of his safe return. When Mr. Miller determined who the individual was, he quickly assessed the situation and recognized that this was someone who was undoubtedly scared, confused, and exhausted. Paul appropriately notified law enforcement and established rapport with the juvenile to make him feel less apprehensive about the situation. Paul connected with the young man and briefly spoke about life, opportunities, and family, while also communicating that life is full of challenges and difficult circumstances. While as challenging as they may be, every obstacle can be overcome with time. The example Paul showed may be categorized as a small act of kindness and compassion, but often, the smallest deeds are what create the greatest impact. In Paul’s case, he showed authenticity, and genuine care for someone.
“The greatest joys we find in our lives are rarely found in pursuit of our own success and desires,” Drumond noted. “The pursuit of self-ambition only leaves us searching for a never-ending cycle of wanting more. By design, we have been inherently put in this world to live for something far greater than ourselves—a life well-lived is a life of gratitude and service. On July 9, Paul showed us a noble example of compassion and an example of what it truly means to help a fellow person in need.”
“There is no greater feeling that recognizing two members of the Vinton Police Department who place so much value in human life. As with any law enforcement organization, the premise of our sworn duties is the profound reverence for human life. In our beloved profession, we meet many while in the course of our duties. As community caretakers, we believe that every life has an opportunity for a bright future. It takes great personal daily inspiration and courage to place such a high regard in the value of life and exert every effort and will to accomplish a challenging task–in this case, the return of a juvenile who unquestionably has endless opportunities and experiences worth living.”
In other action, council held a public hearing on renewing a lease to VINDOS, LLC (Macado’s) for the parking lot lying to the rear of the former Vinton Branch Library on Meadows Street. The parking lot is used for overflow parking for patrons of the restaurant and its employees. The lease is for 10 months to the end of the fiscal year, and then renewable for four additional one-year terms. The business is responsible for landscaping and daily upkeep. There were no public comments. Council will take action at the October 5 meeting.
Council authorized the town manager to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Roanoke, the Town of Vinton, Roanoke and Botetourt Counties, the World Triathlon Corporation, and the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau for the June 5, 2022, and June 4, 2023, Ironman 70.3 Race Support Services. The MOU defines the roles and responsibilities of the Ironman event organizers and the four local governments.
Council adopted a resolution approving new Grant Policies and Procedures, as requested by auditors. The policy complies with federal rules and regulations regarding grant monies, ensures consistent procedures across multiple departments, and defines roles and responsibilities for grant reporting and compliance. Mayor Brad Grose commended staff and Town Attorney Jeremy Carroll for their hard work on developing the policy.
Council also adopted a resolution concerning additional right-of-way and temporary construction easements for three properties along Walnut Avenue owned by Viking Fence Company (Bob’s Restaurant and the Viking Fence office) and the Nilam Corporation (Alvaro’s Market). The easements are needed in order to construct the proposed bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along Walnut Avenue. The project will complete a connection for the Town of Vinton’s Glade Creek Greenway and Roanoke City’s Tinker Creek Greenway. The project is funded by the VDOT Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funds. Construction will begin in late fall 2021. The Pathfinders for Greenways donated $15,000 of the $40,232 needed for this acquisition.
A resolution was adopted by council for a License Agreement between Norfolk Southern Railway Company and the town in the amount of $9,400 for a pedestrian trail to be constructed on the Norfolk Southern property as part of the Walnut Avenue Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations Project from 5th Street to the town’s west limits. The pedestrian trail will be constructed on an existing dirt footpath from the City of Roanoke’s existing catwalk under the NS overpass to the proposed sidewalk along Walnut Avenue. It will connect the town and city greenways and improve bicycle and pedestrian safety. This project is also funded by VDOT STBG funds and scheduled to be advertised in late fall 2021.
Town Manager Pete Peters updated council on uses and proposed uses of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The first portion of the funding will be used for stormwater improvements from Maple Street to Blair Street downtown. Staff and council are working to decide what the ARPA funding of $8.4 million will be used for.