Vinton Police Chief Tom Foster welcomed a new officer, Kristopher Moore, to the Vinton Police Department at the Town Council meeting on December 19. With the hiring of Moore, the police force in Vinton is once again fully staffed.
Moore grew up in southern Oregon. He participated in football, soccer, wrestling, and basketball throughout high school. He graduated early to enlist in the United States Navy. After serving four years with numerous deployments for the global war on terrorism, he left the Navy and became a Wildland Forestry firefighter in Oregon. His next challenge was to become a Department of Defense Security Contractor serving in Afghanistan. When he returned from overseas, he became a certified law enforcement officer in 2015.
Moore’s wife grew up in Bedford and was ready to settle down in her hometown. He has been serving with the Lynchburg Police. He has been married for seven years and has two daughters, ages 7 years and 8 months.
Council members welcomed Moore and commended Chief Foster for his recruitment of such high-quality officers. Foster credited the other members of the Vinton police force who “have all become recruiters.”
Foster also presented the monthly report on police activities, comparing statistics for November 2016 to November 2017. Foster explained that due to the diligence of the Vinton Police, traffic stops have increased 18 percent in the past year from 352 in 2016 to 415 in November 2017. Calls for service increased to 1,155 last month. Arrests in drug cases due to increased awareness by police officers during routine traffic stops have increased by 350 percent.
There have been 81 DUI arrests for drunk and drugged driving so far in 2017 due to “outstanding policing.” He emphasized that there has been no increase in crime in Vinton— just more officers on the street and more contacts with the public. Foster said that he has “received many accolades from the public about the fair, impartial, and professional” officers in Vinton.
Foster introduced Sgt. Valerie Cummings, who was chosen by her peers as Officer of the Month for November.
Vinton Volunteer First Aid Crew Chief Wayne Guffey presented his organization’s monthly report. Volunteers put in 1729 man-hours of service to the community in November 2017. They had a unit in service 101 percent of the possible volunteer hours due to the Thanksgiving holiday. They responded to 96 calls while the career staff answered 91. The Medic truck for Advanced Life Support was marked up 81 percent of the time with Basic Life Support marked up 19 percent.
There was a total of 135 transports in November—87 by career staff and 46 by volunteers. The First Aid Crew now has 51 members including 26 EMT’s, one advanced EMT, 13 medics, 10 in training, and one Driver Only. New EMT Kasi Abel recently passed the test to become a certified EMT.
Chief Oakes from the Vinton Volunteer Fire Department reported that the total man-hours for the volunteer firefighters was 86 in November. The organization has undertaken a recruitment campaign to increase their ranks, with a PSA in the works produced by RVTV which will be broadcast and also available on the town website, and a new recruitment banner for display at the fire station.
After a public hearing, council adopted an ordinance approving a petition for a Special Use Permit by Brigitte Howard to operate a family day care home on South Pacific Drive. In 2016 she obtained a home occupation permit that allowed her to care for no more than five children in her home. With the approval of the SUP, she will be able to care for more than four but not more than 12 children as allowed by the Virginia Department of Social Services. Days and hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. There will be no school-age children under her care. She plans to care for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years.
Howard will have one part-time employee in the morning and one in the afternoon. Her petition was approved by the Vinton Planning Commission at its meeting on December 7. Council placed one condition on their approval— there will be no signage at her home.
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters and David Hill from Hill Studio shared details on a planning grant for $3,000 recently awarded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to assess current housing conditions and to determine the feasibility of implementing a housing rehabilitation program for neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown business district, including Jefferson Park, Cleveland, and Midway.
“The intent of the assessment is to identify and prioritize properties that would be candidates for rehabilitation in order to improve living conditions, restore property values, and encourage affordable single family home ownership opportunities,” explained Peters.
According to Peters, town staff recently initiated work with Hill Studio to assist with the initial assessment and feasibility study. They have also reached out to numerous community stakeholders, inviting them to participate in two upcoming town management meetings on December 21 and January 8 to discuss the study and draft final summary comments to the DHCD for review.
“The hope is that DHCD will consider our project for additional grant funding to develop a full strategic plan to address housing rehabilitation and possibly provide funds necessary for future construction of the rehabilitation,” added Peters.
After a briefing by Town Finance Director/Treasurer Anne Cantrell, council adopted a resolution approving lease financing of vehicles and equipment for the Public Works Department from the town’s CIP Funding list to include two meter reading trucks, a refuse truck with flippers, a flipper to retrofit the backup refuse truck, a sewer jetter vac truck, and a utility dump truck.
A Request for Proposals was issued for financing, which resulted in the town accepting a bid from the US BankCorp with interest rates guaranteed through December 31 at 2.288 percent for the two meter reading trucks (five-year equipment) and 2.431 percent for the remaining vehicles and equipment (seven-year equipment). The cost will not exceed $800,000.
Council adopted a resolution approving a variance of the town’s noise ordinance to Avis Construction that extends until January 15. The company is replacing concrete sidewalks and curbs, adding handicapped ADA ramps and curb ramps in the Lake Drive Shopping Center in the area from Subway to Dunkin Donuts. They will be working from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m., with jackhammers on a handful of evenings from 10 p.m. until midnight. This schedule is necessary to keep the businesses open during the day.
Town Manager Barry Thompson said that an attempt was made to contact all nearby property owners, residents, and businesses to inform them of the upcoming construction at night, which could extend through the end of January, depending upon the weather. Council member Janet Scheid and Mayor Brad Grose expressed their concerns about the noise. The ultimate decision was to approve the variance through January 15, the day before a council meeting, to assess whether there have been any complaints from citizens.
Thompson and Chief Foster updated council on the Ruddell Road GPS issue brought up by a citizen at a recent meeting who was concerned that trucks were being dangerously routed down Ruddell Road, Blair Street, and Berkley Road. Foster has contacted GPS.org to report the problem. Signage is being developed to alert trucks not to use those roads.