By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Police Department took center stage at the Town Council meeting on January 21. Officer Jeremy Shrewsbury was named Officer of Quarter for October through December 2019.
Chief Tom Foster described Shrewsbury to council as a “consummate professional who does a fantastic job day in and day out. He has an infectious positive attitude and is always willing to help his co-workers. He has distinguished himself among his peers.”
“Officer Shrewsbury was selected as a result of being nominated by his peers for his exceptional job performance during the reporting period,” Foster said.
“Officer Shrewsbury’s nomination centers around his exceptional efforts in promoting highway safety in the Town of Vinton,” Foster continued. “During the aforementioned reporting period Officer Shrewsbury made 10 arrests for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs, three arrests for Drug/Narcotics violations, and four for Firearms violations for a total of 102 summons and arrests for the reporting period.”
“When Jeremy is at work, Jeremy is working,” Foster commented.
Shrewsbury had more good news in store at the January 21 meeting. Unbeknownst to him, the announcement was made that he was being promoted to the rank of Corporal in the Vinton Police Department. Deputy Chief Captain Fabricio Drumond appointed Shrewsbury to his new post, along with Acting Sergeant Todd Bailey who was promoted to Sergeant.
“Effective with this appointment, you are charged to carefully and diligently execute the duties and responsibilities of a Sergeant and Corporal of the Vinton Police Department,” Drumond said. “As a Sergeant and Corporal of the Vinton Police Department you must set an example for others to emulate. Your conduct and professionalism both on and off duty shall be above reproach. You are responsible for the accomplishment of your assigned duties and for the safety, professional development, and well-being of the officers in your charge. You will be the embodiment of our institutional core values of honor, integrity, and values. You will lead your officers with firmness, fairness, and dignity while observing and following orders and directions of your senior leaders and enforcing all regulations and laws governing the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Town of Vinton.”
In presenting the police department Quarterly Report to Council, Chief Foster noted that there were 3264 CAD incidents between October and December 2019. A total of 290 reports were written. The Vinton Police made 878 traffic stops and issued 477 traffic summonses. There were two traffic accidents in the town in that period—a good record since 23,000 vehicles per day pass through Vinton on Washington Avenue or Bypass Road. There were 40 drug cases during the second quarter and 203 DUI arrests. Animal control handled 38 incidents; Code Enforcement dealt with 14 calls.
In other business to come before council, Randy Layman, President and Executive Director of the Vinton Historical Society and Vinton History Museum presented the organization’s bi-annual report to council. They had revenues of $8,690 from private funds, dues, grants, donations, and the twice-yearly yard sale fundraisers in 2019 and expenditures of $4,699. The society has been setting aside surplus funds for electrical system updates at the museum.
Executive Secretary Judy Cunningham is the sole employee of the Vinton History Museum. More than 20 volunteers contributed over 600 hours of service to museum operations and special projects last year. The history museum had over 1600 visitors in 2019.
The historical society instituted the “First Saturdays” program in March 2019 to accommodate those who are unable to visit the museum during their regular hours of operation on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “First Saturdays” has featured events such as the Roanoke Valley Dulcimers and entertainer Jon Weems.
The historical society hosted an Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social in July and several Open Houses. The museum joined the town in celebrating Downtown Trick or Treating and placed second in the Christmas Door Decorating Contest. To view their 2020 plan of events, visit www.vintonhistorymuseum.org.
Vinton Treasurer and Finance Director Anne Cantrell briefed council on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the town and the Roanoke County Treasurer’s Office for the issuance of Roanoke County animal tags in the Town Treasurer’s office.
When the gain-sharing agreement between Vinton and Roanoke County ended last year, the town and county entered into an MOU which moved responsibility for the town’s utilization of the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection to the county. With the county assuming costs of the shelter, the town stopped issuing separate animal licenses from the county.
Council members wanted to continue to offer the opportunity for town residents to purchase animal licenses at the Municipal Building as a convenience. Subsequently town staff has worked with the Roanoke County Treasurer to become a remote location. Cantrell reported that the procedure is a little more complicated than in the past as the county issues eight types of animal tags, while the town issued only two types in previous years.
Council adopted an Ordinance to the Animals section of Town Code concerning situations “whereby a person is attacked or bitten by an animal in a manner that does not meet the definition of a dangerous or vicious dog or whereby property is damaged as a result of the animal owner not taking reasonable care or precaution.”
Council was briefed on the issue at their December 3, 2019 meeting, when former Vinton Vice Mayor Matt Hare shared a story of members of his family and his neighbors being attacked by another neighbor’s dogs in recent months. Because of the wording or lack of clarification in existing town code, the police, despite their best efforts, were unable to take sufficient action to prevent further attacks.
The amended ordinance makes it the duty of every owner of an animal, as defined in Section 10-2, “to exercise reasonable care and take all necessary steps and precautions to protect other persons, property and animals from injuries or damage which may result from his or her animal’s behavior. If the owner or custodian of an animal is a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor shall be responsible to ensure compliance with this section. This section shall be applicable to all properties, to include the animal owner’s property, unless the injured person is trespassing on the animal owner’s property.”
The punishment for a violation of this section is deemed a Class 4 Misdemeanor with a fine of not more than $250.
Cantrell presented the October and November 2019 Financial Reports to council for approval. Revenues in the General and Utility Funds were generally above expectations with expenditures below. Total cash and investments as indicated by the November report are in the amount of $5.1 million. As budget development season gets underway, Cantrell presented a budget calendar to council with public hearings on tax rates and the proposed budget scheduled in April, and adoption of the budget in mid-May.