Vinton Mayor Brad Grose and Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce (VACC) President Justin Davison shared their evaluation of the state of the Town of Vinton at the Chamber’s annual State of the Town Address and Membership Meeting on December 5.
As is tradition, the event was held at the Vinton War Memorial, beautifully decorated for the holiday season.
Davison welcomed about 150 dignitaries and guests from across the Roanoke Valley. The Vinton Police Honor Guard presented the Colors, followed by the national anthem sung by William Byrd High School Choral members Kim Hoyle, Ivy Mitchell, and David Scott.
The invocation was delivered by Pastor Travis Russell from Vinton Baptist Church.
“The Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce has had much success this past year,” Davison said. “We are up to nearly 300 members, reach thousands of social media followers daily, and have over 25 sponsorships annually. We are lucky to have over 14 annual events with many new ones coming up it seems almost daily.
“The Chamber has always been about people helping people and we look to continue on that goal and mission moving forward,” said Davison.
“Speaking of great partnerships, the Vinton Chamber of Commerce values and continues to work hard with our local officials at the Town of Vinton,” Davison said. “This great partnership resulted in the move to our new home at the Charles Hill Community Center right across the parking lot.
“As we look forward to 2020, we hope to strengthen that bond with some great things coming down the pipeline from ribbon cuttings, to Lunch and Learns, to great Business After Hours, and many more events all with the purpose of spotlighting some of the truly special venues, entertainment, and organizations we have here in the Town of Vinton,” Davison said in conclusion.
He then turned the meeting over to Dr. Richard Turner, Chamber Nominating Committee chair, for the introduction and installation of officers and board members for 2020 by Mayor Brad Grose, assisted by Chamber Executive Director Angie Chewning and Executive Assistant Kathryn Sowers.
Davison will continue as Chamber President, supported by First Vice President Allison Finney, and Second Vice President Bruce Mayer. New board members are Colby Sarver, Anthony Conner, and Tim Greenway. Returning board members include Sonia Bolen, Dr. Turner, John Conner, Page Stovall, Michelle Barklow, Andy Bishop, Chris Duncan, Julie Mayer, Jason Bishop, and Norman Mall. Mayor Grose, Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters, and Director of Community Programs and Facilities Chasity Barbour represent the town on the board.
Mayor Grose next presented his State of the Town address accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation.
He began by acknowledging other members of Town Council— Vice Mayor Keith Liles, Councilwomen Sabrina McCarty and Janet Scheid, and Councilman Mike Stovall and thanked them “for their vision, leadership, and friendship.” He thanked his family— wife Debby and daughters Mandy and Melissa for their support.
He thanked the town’s Leadership Team: Town Manager Barry Thompson (“who focuses on results and not who gets the credit”), Assistant Town Manager and Economic Development Director Pete Peters, Human Resource and Risk Management Director Donna Collins, Chief of Police Tom Foster, Town Treasurer and Finance Director Anne Cantrell, Town Clerk and Executive Assistant to the Town Manager Susan Johnson, Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan, Community Programs and Facilities Director Chasity Barbour, and Public Works Director Joey Hiner.
“Thanks to each of you for your tireless efforts to carry out the town’s work,” said Grose. “Let’s not overlook that we are a small town, and these are working managers. This staff works directly alongside their coworkers to get the job done.”
He then took a trip down memory lane— back to 2007 when “we weren’t down by any means, but quite a few folks were worried about where the town was going. We needed to take steps to proactively control our fate” as the town was experiencing “flat and declining revenues, little to no private investment; our downtown was starting to become empty, and there was an obvious lack of excitement and energy.
“In 2009, Town Council developed a strategic plan to get us back on track,” he explained. “Council took steps to envision what they wanted the town to look like in 10 years. That resulted in establishing a guide and became our marching orders.
“While we still have work to do, I am happy to report that Vinton has achieved many of those lofty goals with a recommitment by every council since,” he said. “We have transformed our community from a ‘Go-Thru Town’ to a ‘Go-To Town’ and we have done it together.
“Through partnerships and commitment, we have rolled up our sleeves and made it happen,” the mayor said.
He attributed much of the success to local and regional partnerships that have helped Vinton reach its goals “at a much quicker pace than we could alone.”
“I am amazed at the spirit of cooperation that exists in this valley and very proud that Vinton can play a small part in the collective progress,” said Grose.
The mayor highlighted many proud accomplishments from 2019 and thanked those responsible:
- The Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce that creates events that make memories and signed a lease to relocate the offices to the Charles Hill Community Center this year
- The Vinton Historical Society and History Museum for the collaboration agreement they have reached with the town and the “energetic, passionate, engaged” members who preserve Vinton’s history and “tell our story”
- The Vinton Breakfast Lions Club, “who are the very definition of a community service organization,” whose projects have included clean-up and site improvements at the Giles Street Cemetery and construction of a picnic pavilion at Herman L. Horn Elementary
- Annette Patterson and The Advancement Foundation with the Gauntlet Business Program and Competition among their many programs
- Roanoke County Schools with plans for renovations at William Byrd High School, along with community policing programs with Vinton-area schools
- The new Town of Vinton website, credited to the hard work of Susan Johnson and Julie Tucei and Roanoke County Information Technology Services
- Vinton’s Safety Committee for spearheading building safety improvements at the Municipal Building, “though we pray they are never necessary,” and their work to incorporate robust workplace safety and training programs
- The professional men and women of the Public Works Department— the town’s largest and most visible department
- New refuse carts, a new refuse truck, and new refuse collection procedures, along with a new streetsweeper, and new snowplows
- Over four lane miles paved in 2019
- Completion of several stormwater, sanitary sewer, and water projects this year
- The Vinton Police Department under the leadership of Chief Foster, received its fifth re-accreditation, engages with the community through Community Policing and Neighborhood Outreach programs and assists with special events
- The Planning and Zoning Staff of Anita McMillan, Nathan McClung, and Julie Tucei for their tireless work behind the scenes. This year they worked on zoning and subdivision updates; worked with the Planning Commission to revise existing and create several new ordinances; oversaw public Rright of way updates; and managed several greenway, transportation, bike and pedestrian improvement projects
- The Finance Department that re-opened a Capital Improvement Plan to fund public equipment and infrastructure, achieved a 98 percent collection rate, integrated a paperless billing system, facilitated a system-wide water meter replacement program and have been recognized year after year from 1995-2018 for the annual CAFR reports
- The town instituted a reciprocal bus route in the town which has improved efficiency and maintained services
- The Zagster Bike Share program has relocated to a more visible location at the Vinton Library
- The staff in the Community Programs and Facilities Department who maintain and operate the Vinton War Memorial, the High Ground Monument, the LOVE sign, and the Community Center
- The Vinton Farmers’ Market, renovated in 2016— a centerpiece for countless town and Chamber events
- The Vinton Dogwood Festival celebrating its 65th year in 2020 and the Chamber’s annual Christmas Parade
- A DHCD Housing Rehabilitation Project which will eventually make declining homes in the area safer, warmer, and drier
- A Brownfields Assessment and Redevelopment Grant program which will identify the next properties ready for redevelopment
- Funding of $600,000 for the Glade Creek Greenway which will make Vinton a more walkable community
- Grant funding of $200,000 for improvements to the heavily traveled intersections at Washington/Pollard and Hardy/Vinyard with pedestrian signalized intersection improvements– ADA compliant
- Over $1.4 million in VDOT funding to install bike and pedestrian improvements along Walnut Avenue
- Potential for a revenue-sharing grant from VDOT to rebuild a portion of Mountain View Road at a cost of over $1.2 million with the town’s share of the 50/50 grant provided by proceeds from pari-mutuel taxes collected from Rosie’s Gaming Emporium
- The opening of Macado’s a year ago through a successful partnership with Roanoke County and Richard Macher
- The Billy Byrd Apartments renovated and now leasing through another partnership with Roanoke County and Waukeshaw developer Dave McCormack
- Upcoming redevelopment of the historic Gish’s Mill with a project in the works for 2020
- Renovations in the amount of $3 million at the Lancerlot with ice reinstalled last season. It hosts hundreds of youth and adult hockey organizations, collegiate ice hockey teams, and public skating
- The opening of Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in May 2019 which is drawing visitors from around the region and generating much-needed revenue for the town used to fund capital projects for Public Works
- The redevelopment of the Vinton Motors property into Vinyard Station through a partnership with Roanoke County, the Vinyard family, and developer Dale Wilkinson
The mayor’s presentation concluded with an exceptional video produced by RVTV featuring economic development highlights in Vinton in 2019: “Positioned for Redevelopment Success.”
A breakfast catered by Jerry’s Restaurant preceded the State of the Town address. Sandra Massengill provided special music during the meal.