The Town of Vinton honored Vice Mayor Matt Hare for his years of public service to the town with a reception prior to his final meeting as a member of Vinton Town Council on June 19.
Family members, friends, town staff, and fellow council members gathered to congratulate him on an incredibly productive eight years in service to the Vinton community, beginning in January 2010 and ending on June 30, 2018.
Hare was first appointed to Vinton Town Council to complete the term of Councilman Billy Obenchain, who passed away in December 2009. Council knew him because of his work as Vinton’s representative on the Greenway Commission. Hare said that filling in for the last few months of Obenchain’s term “turned into an eight-and-a-half-year journey.”
Throughout his years on council, Hare has frequently mentioned Obenchain’s personal character and legacy and his own determination to carry on the work Obenchain began.
Hare was then elected to council in May 2010 and again in 2014. He served as vice mayor from 2014-2018. He announced in December of 2017 that he would not run for re-election due to the demands of his job and his desire to spend more time with his wife, Julie Reed Hare, a Vinton native, and their three children.
Councilwoman Janet Scheid presented a proclamation to Hare which listed the “noteworthy achievements which took place while he served on council: the development of a five year strategic plan for major water and sewer infrastructure projects; the opening of the new Vinton Public Library; the opening of the HIVE business incubation center in the upper level of the Health Department building; the grand reopening of the downtown in celebration of the completion of the Downtown Revitalization Community Development Block Grant program; the purchase of the former Holdren’s Country Store/Gish’s Mill for future redevelopment; the opening of the Roland E. Cook Lofts; redevelopment of the former Vinton Library into a Macado’s restaurant; and redevelopment of the former William Byrd High School into market-rate apartments.”
Council commended him for his “hard work, talent, and leadership as a member of the Finance Committee, which was essential in establishing sound financial strategies and policies for the future of the town. Through his service on the Public Safety Committee, he emphasized the importance of public safety for the citizens of Vinton by supporting enhancement of 24-hour fire services as well as investments in equipment and vehicles for the Police, Fire, and EMS career staff and volunteers.”
Council also lauded him for his “support of initiatives to enhance future redevelopment in the town including establishment of a Mixed-Use Development District, the designation of Urban Development Areas and the enactment of a Spot Blight Abatement Program.”
As a member of the Greenway Commission, he “was supportive of future expansions of the greenway system through the entire Roanoke Valley, including the Gladetown Trail, Glade Creek Greenway Phase 1, and the future Glade Creek Greenway Phase 2 in the town.”
Hare noted that the highlight of his years on council was “our work in cooperation with the county on the new library.”
“I think we made some fundamental changes to the way we allocate resources that has produced the most fruit,” said Hare. “We started having strategic planning sessions to provide focus on where we wanted to take the community in the next few years. The budgets were then created to support those strategic initiatives. Also, we revamped the finance committee, which had gone dormant. We set a monthly cadence to review all financials, as well as council actions with financial implications. In the process we improved our financial reporting to council and the community. This better educated everyone on where we stood financially.
“I know this might all sound like accounting speak, but being strategic on where we want to go, focusing funds and resources and driving action with rigorous financial oversight and reporting has been key to us making sound decisions like the library,” Hare said. “This has, in turn, created a flywheel effect in our economic development.”
Council has depended upon Hare in all situations involving finance, his field of expertise. He is the Director of Finance for the Kollmorgen manufacturing firm in Radford, a $100 million business specializing in electric vehicle systems with production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. He travels frequently serving customers in those areas.
“I’d also say, spending nine months talking about a chicken ordinance was kind of funny,” said Hare of issues council has faced.
During the Recognition Ceremony that followed the reception, members of council and staff recalled their work with Hare and thanked him for his service to the community and his impact on the present and future of Vinton.
Finance Director Anne Cantrell made a presentation from the Finance Department. Chief Wayne Guffey announced that Hare had been made an honorary member of the Vinton First Aid Crew and thanked him for “serving the town with great honor” and for teaching him about budgets.
Mayor Brad Grose thanked Hare for “caring about this community; for being a man of faith who is not afraid to show it; and for having the courage to stand up and make his voice heard; for being a hardworking leader with integrity and high standards; for being devoted to his family; and for working to leave the community a better place for his own children. The town is better for you having been on council.”
Town Manager Barry Thompson expressed his appreciation to Hare for collaborating during the hard years of the recession when substantial budget cuts had to be made and for leading the town “through the hard decisions.”
Councilman Keith Liles applauded Hare for always keeping his composure no matter the circumstances and for his “passion for what you believe in.”
Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty said that she came to know Hare as they walked the entire 3.2 square miles of the town as both campaigned for election to council and were faced with tough questions from constituents.
Former Councilman Wes Nance said that Hare had lived up to the ideals of Councilman Billy Obenchain, who he replaced on council, and has “been a great friend to this town, having put so much heart into this job.”
Hare said that he was humbled by the recognition from those “who have become family.” He described Vinton as a “welcoming and loving place,” making his decision to leave council bittersweet. He thanked his family for their support through the years, and council for taking the risk of appointing him to begin with.
“Not all governments work like this one,” said Hare, “but they should.”
“We have been progressive but still preserved the past,” said Hare. “We have kept our character which is not an easy thing to do.”
He left council with some advice: “do the hard things; saying no is as important as saying yes; don’t let ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘better’; there is no magic bullet; show steady, productive growth; think about the long-term; and strive to remain relevant.”
Hare said that remaining relevant should become the town’s rallying cry in answering the question he has heard for years—why have a town? His answer—”because we provide better services than anyone else.”
He concluded his remarks by reading a passage from Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13, which continues to shape his own life on the importance of faith, hope, and love, with the greatest being love.