VINTON–Interim Police Chief Jeff Dudley presented the Vinton Police Awards for 2015 at the town council meeting on February 2. Sgt. Tim Lawless received the Traffic Safety award which is presented to the officer who shows the most activity when it comes to traffic safety-related enforcement and education, including speeding, reckless driving, and seatbelt and child safety citations.
The DUI Award was presented this year to Sgt. Greg Quesinberry for making 10 of the 62 DUI arrests in Vinton during the period which covered July 2014 through December 2015.
Corporal Mike Caldwell received the Drug Award, which recognizes the officer who did the most to take the presence of drugs off the streets of the community. He was also named Officer of the Year for 2015. This is a coveted award since he was selected by his peers for this recognition.
During the award period, Caldwell was named Officer of the Month five times. He responded to a call involving 13 feral cats, exposed to the hazardous atmosphere they created, and seized a large amount of heroin, methamphetamine, food items laced with marijuana, and other drugs. In other incidents, he solved a breaking and entering that occurred at the old Roanoke County Career Center and the robbery of an elderly female in the Kroger parking lot. He also assisted with the accreditation process in the police department.
Sgt. Fabricio Drumond received the leadership award for 2015—an honor bestowed by his fellow officers.
“Anytime you are selected by your peers for recognition, it means more than being selected by other means,” said Dudley. “It means those that you work with and supervise have recognized your abilities and want you recognized for those abilities.”
Chief Dudley also honored two officers who earned promotions in January. Officer Michael Caldwell and Officer James Spence were promoted to Corporal.
The chief introduced a new member of the Vinton Police force, Officer Matthew Prescott Stafford II, who came to Vinton from the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Department where he was a deputy in the jail. He is a certified officer having spent three years with the Bedford City Police Department. He lives in Roanoke with his wife and daughter.
Interim Town Manager Barry Thompson introduced another newcomer to the Town of Vinton staff, Anne Whitehurst, who will serve as Accounting Manager in the Finance Department. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and comes to the town from Roanoke County where she served as a Financial Analyst.
According to Thompson, while working for the county, she gained experience in working with Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR’s), real estate personal property tax reconciliation, and governmental accounting.
Whitehurst has also served as staff accountant for Cherry Bekaert LLP where she gained experience with government audits. She previously worked as a bank teller for American National Bank and Trust in Bedford.
“She is a welcomed addition to the Finance/Treasurer’s Office and her governmental experience as well as her customer service skills and leadership ability will be assets to the Treasurer’s Department,” said Thompson.
Whitehurst graduated “cum laude” from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.
She was immediately put to work during the meeting, introducing two resolutions which were adopted by town council, removing the outstanding Personal Property delinquent taxes and Vehicle License Fees over five years old and also the outstanding water and sewer delinquent bills over five years old from the active records to a permanent file. Council takes these actions each year.
During the citizens’ comments section of the meeting, Chris McCarty of Grand Storage brought to council his concerns and those of Henry Brabham who owns the Lancerlot and OTB properties.
They recently spent approximately $19,000 in extensive and expensive improvements to the stormwater retention pond which runs along Niagara Road, reducing water and natural debris in the roadway.
Vinton has a contract with Roanoke County to perform inspections of the public and private Stormwater Management (SWM) facilities within the town limits. After the inspection, the property owners are notified of the inspection and given time to correct any deficiencies.
A recent second inspection by the county has resulted in a request for more work at about $5,000. McCarty says that an enormous volume of stormwater is funneled down the ravine and has resulted in more erosion, the pond at the bottom being washed out, and the pipe clogged with silt. Maintenance of the SWM facility costs about $1800 twice a year.
According to Anita McMillan, Director of Planning and Zoning for the Town of Vinton, the SWM facility was designed and approved for stormwater runoff for the mini-warehouses, OTB, the Lancerlot Sports Complex and all associated improvements in the area (paved parking areas, driveways, etc.) and is treats about 34.37 acres of land area.
Matt Combs completed the original work on the pond with the excavation of a trench, installation of large rock rip rap, and planting of vegetation. Trees and debris were removed; the drainage ditch was cleaned out and enlarged, and the banks stabilized. The design allows water to flow down over the rip rap to the pipe at the bottom of the incline, being filtered along the way.
A contributing problem is poor drainage along Niagara Road which is the responsibility of the town.
Due to the overwhelming expense, McCarty asked town council to provide some relief. Council asked that Thompson do some research on the original drainage plan and return to council with information so that they can take appropriate action.
Town Council held a public hearing on granting a lease to Southern States Cooperative, Inc., for a total of eight lots along 11th Street, to be used for employee and possibly vendor parking. Five of those lots are already leased by the company.
Southern States manager David Jones spoke to the issue. The company will be spending $10,000 in upgrades with grading and graveling. They will pay $800 annually to lease the lots from the town with the money being donated to the Vinton Needy Family Program. He said they need the additional parking because their business is growing and they have “run out of room.”
The lease agreement will not only create more parking, but will reduce the mowing done by Public Works and address safety concerns resulting from employees who park across the street and have to cross a busy road. Council adopted a resolution to grant the lease.
Council next adopted a resolution appropriating a grant of $7,833 received from the Department of Justice Services and a matching $412 from the town to purchase two Radar Speed Limit signs which can be moved to different locations and mounted high on existing poles which will flash the speed a motorist is maintaining. Chief Dudley and council members commended Police Administrative Services Coordinator April Alterio for researching the grant which resulted in the funding.
Deputy Chief Chris Linkous, who is also the Emergency Services Coordinator, briefed council on the recent snow event which began on January 22. He said that the town was well-prepared for a much more severe weather event than the 14 inches of snow which accumulated. He thanked the public for heeding the advice to stay home and off the roads. The town spent approximately $31,000 in managing the snow removal and in services from public safety personnel.