By Debbie Adams
Vinton Town Council approved the appointment of a new town manager and chief of police at its meeting on December 1. Richard “Pete” Peters was named town manager, and Fabricio Drumond was introduced as the new chief of police.
“The Town of Vinton is in a unique position that will help set the stage for service to our citizens for the next several years,” said Vinton Mayor Brad Grose. “The Vinton Town Council is filling two especially important positions in our town, namely, town manager and police chief. The fact that both positions of leadership are changing at the same time could have been a challenge of enormous portion. However, over the past few years, Vinton has attracted very qualified, talented people for many staff positions. Council had the opportunity to contemplate and evaluate some extraordinarily strong people within our own organization.
“Of course, Vinton Town Council approached this situation with prayer and careful consideration,” Grose said. “While council could have advertised for candidates outside of our staff, it soon became obvious that the best people for the positions were already employed by the Town of Vinton. The existence of these highly qualified individuals in our organization was not an accident nor a matter of good luck. The fortunate situation was the result of good planning and great leadership on the part of the two men who previously held the positions, former Town Manager Barry Thompson, and former Police Chief Tom Foster. They agreed that a strong line of succession and thorough peer training are essential to seamless transitions.
“As mayor, I want to thank Barry Thompson and Tom Foster for their leadership and foresight. Their hard work allowed Vinton Town Council to promote within our own staff. Thank you, gentlemen, may God bless you!”
During the meeting, council held a public hearing to consider public comments on the petition of Giacomo Montuori of New York Pizza for a Special Use Permit for a proposed indoor amusement use to be located at 700 Hardy Road, next door to New York Pizza.
Members had been briefed at the council meeting on November 17 and the Vinton Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan at its own public hearing on November 19. Principal Planner Nathan McClung reviewed the specifics of the proposal for council.
The property was formerly a dry cleaning establishment, built in 1972, and zoned GB General Business District. In 2016, site plans were approved for the property for a drive-thru facility that would convert the vacant building into an ice cream shop and coffee shop. New York Pizza now intends to incorporate a new use into the existing structure under that umbrella that would include a family friendly arcade.
Council approved the SUP with two proffered conditions:
- None of the amusement or entertainment devices or machines associated with the use shall be “gambling devices” or “skill games.”
- The petitioner must obtain approval on the change of use requirements from the Roanoke County building commissioner prior to use of the building for the commercial indoor amusement center.
The building has an estimated finished floor area of 3200 square feet. The parcel is accessed by three commercial entrances.
In other business, council recognized the CivicPlus Website Redesign Project Team – Town of Vinton employees Julie Tucei, Barry Thompson, Pete Peters, and Susan Johnson, and Roanoke County IT employees Chad Sweeney and Brian Gladden– as well as all departments’ staff who coordinated with the project team, for being awarded the “Pinnacle Award” in the City/County Small Population Group (up to 50,000 residents) by the National Association of Government Web Professionals (NAGW). The award was announced at the organization’s 2020 Virtual Conference in September.
This year the winners of the coveted award were chosen by the general membership through popular vote, rather than by the traditional awards committee.
NAGW membership includes IT, Design, and Communications (PIO) staff from hundreds of localities across the United States.
According to Vinton Executive Assistant Susan Johnson, “Winning a 2020 NAGW award is a resounding vote of approval by our web peers across the country. At its heart, NAGW is an organization of government web professionals working together to share knowledge, best practices, innovative ideas, and other resources.”
Council was briefed by Human Resources Director Donna Collins on extending the rollover accrual date for vacation hours for town employees from December 31, 2020, to June 20, 2021. Due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic, employees did not utilize time off as they normally would have. Extending the rollover date allows staff to retain those hours as vacation rather than being rolled over into sick time.
In the early days of the pandemic when the town feared revenues would be severely impacted, several positions were frozen with revisions to the town budget. Council has now adopted a resolution approving unfreezing and reclassifying several positions to improve efficiencies and service delivery to citizens. The Utility Service Operator position was unfrozen and reclassified to Financial Analyst. The Senior Financial Analyst position was reclassified to Assistant Finance Director. Equipment Operator I was unfrozen and reclassified to Project Manager. Certified Officer position in the police department was unfrozen and reclassified to lieutenant. The Assistant Town Manager position was unfrozen to fund Public Works separation pay and hire a new Public Works Director.
Council adopted a resolution approving and initiating the National League of Cities (NLC) Service Line Program. The program assists residents by providing an affordable solution to water and sewer line and indoor plumbing repairs or replacements. Property owners in Vinton will be able to enroll in the opt-in home warranty program, contacted in a direct mailing. Those choosing to participate will be billed by the company. If repairs are needed, the company sends out repairmen. The program is also educational in nature, as most homeowners mistakenly believe the town is responsible for the lateral water and sewer lines coming into their homes. In fact, the property owners are responsible for lateral lines off of the main lines, which the town maintains.