VINTON–The Town of Vinton has much to be thankful for in 2016. Most of the words spoken at this year’s annual State of the Town address on November 17 were encouraging.
The Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the event at the Vinton War Memorial with over 115 in attendance. The Chamber uses this occasion each year to vote on and install its new officers and board members in addition to receiving a report from town officials.
Todd Creasy, president of the Chamber for the past two years, introduced Town Manager Barry Thompson and Mayor Brad Grose to update the guests on what has been happening in Vinton and what is on the horizon.
Thompson said that Vinton is in a far better position than most small towns in Virginia and across the country.
The past months have seen re-development projects announced and some underway for the former Roland E. Cook Elementary and William Byrd High schools. Work has begun on the Macado’s restaurant located in the former library building on Washington Avenue. The Community Development Block Grant for downtown revitalization which has dramatically changed the face of the downtown area will be complete at the end of this year. Twin Creeks Brewery opened on Pollard Street on November 12. Phase 1 of the Glade Creek Greenway expansion will be complete in December. Phase 2 of the greenway project is soon to get underway.
There is excitement in the air.
“Vinton is doing very well; it has been a truly remarkable year,” said Grose, commenting on the impressive economic growth going on while still maintaining the small town atmosphere.
Grose joked that members of town council have attended so many ribbon-cuttings in the town this past year that “council has gained 50 pounds” from the snacks at all the celebrations.
He applauded each member of the leadership team who head up the town’s departments, describing them as “creative and hardworking.” including Thompson who served the town for almost 13 years as Treasurer and Finance Director before being chosen this year as Town Manager; Assistant Town Manager Richard “Pete” Peters, who came on board in December 2015; Chief Tom Foster who also joined the town this year and now has a fully-staffed department for the first time in many years; Interim Finance Director Anne Cantrell; Deputy Fire and EMS Chief Chris Linkous, who has served the town for 21 years and has a “wealth of knowledge” about both services; newly appointed Public Works Director Joey Hiner, who has moved up to the top position after many years with the town; Town Clerk and Executive Assistant Susan Johnson; Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan; Human Resources Director Donna Collins; Special Programs Director Mary Beth Layman; and Chasity Barbour, Facilities Director at the Vinton War Memorial.
Grose said that he feels a renewed sense of pride among town council and the town staff.
He went on to thank corporate leaders in the town who “share the same passion as the citizens and the staff,” and the Chamber of Commerce who “proactively support businesses and activities for our citizens.”
Grose also thanked the representatives from Roanoke County present who have partnered with the town on the multitude of economic development projects on the books or in the works and the renovations to the Vinton Fire Station to accommodate 24-hour career firefighters. He also thanked the citizens who generously volunteer to serve the town.
The Mayor commended the Finance Department for receiving yet another CAFR award from the General Finance Officers Association and for the first time, the “Distinguished Budget Presentation Award”—one of only 18 localities in Virginia.
He mentioned the many ribbon-cuttings at the HIVE Business Incubation Center as the result of private/public partnerships. Many of these were made possible by last spring’s Gauntlet competition under the direction of The Advancement Foundation and its president Annette Patterson. Fledgling small business entrepreneurs were given financial, in-kind, and educational support which enabled them to pursue their goals.
Grose said there have also been challenges for the town in 2016, such as $80,000 in repairs to streets caused by the aging infrastructure and stormwater management issues, outdated ordinances, and budget constraints. However, he feels the town is “poised for more positive growth–the best is yet to be in Vinton.”
“Continued cooperation and collaboration” are vital components of that growth.
The meeting continued with the election of a new president for the Chamber of Commerce—Justin Davison from Member One–and several new and returning members of the Board of Directors, and officers. Allison Finney from American Efficiency Inns, will serve as 1st Vice President, Attorney Bruce Mayer as 2nd Vice President, and Todd Creasy from Neely’s Accounting Services as Past President.
The VACC Board of Directors includes Michelle Barklow from Star King Enterprises, Tommy Wood from Wood’s Service Centers, Keith Liles from Allstate Insurance, Sherri Fullen from BB&T, Paige Stovall from Berkshire Health and Rehab, Kynn Deadrick, from K & T Entertainment, Dr. Richard Turner from Roanoke County Schools, Sonia Bolen from Parkway Vet, Scott Sorenson of Cardinal Glass, John Conner of New York Life, Steve Hildebrand of Freedom First, Tammy Shepherd of L.T. McGhee, Beth Abbott of Mountain View Cemetery, Paul St. Clair of Vinton Appliance, Mayor Grose, and Mary Beth Layman.
Angie Chewning serves as Executive Director of the Chamber with Kathryn Sowers as Executive Assistant.
Members of council also spoke enthusiastically about the state of the town.
Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty said, “I’m honored to serve on Town Council with folks who have the same passion and dreams for Vinton as I do. The progress that we have accomplished through working with such a talented staff, Roanoke County, and the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce has been amazing. I am so proud to say that things are happening ‘In Vinton’ and I look forward to many more celebrations to come.”
“Vinton is on the cusp of great things,” said Councilwoman Janet Scheid. “We have invested thousands and thousands of dollars into improving the look and feel of downtown and are beginning to reap the rewards of those decisions. New businesses, new apartments, and new visitors to our town can only mean growth and economic development.”
“The state of the town can be summed up in the phrase ‘excited anticipation,’” said Vice Mayor Matt Hare. “Many years of hard work and investment by the town, county, citizens, and businesses are beginning to show fruit. It is exciting to see all those pieces fall into place and to plan for the future. The challenge we have, however, will be sustaining and building upon the momentum that has provided significant investment in the community and solid, steady growth.”
Councilman Keith Liles commented that, “I feel, the state of the Town is coming to life. So many great things happened this year in Vinton it’s almost unbelievable. Not one, but two schools on each end of downtown were sold to developers and will become upscale apartments. Soon, we’ll have downtown living for the first time in our lifetime. We have a new state of the art library that was constructed and opened a year ago. Macado’s is moving in, a brewery just opened downtown, the Greenway Trail is winding its way thru town, and we have plenty of real estate to accommodate whatever type of business we want. Most towns our size never experience any of this. We’re lucky and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.”