VINTON–Vinton Town Council has selected Janet Scheid to complete the term of Wes Nance who resigned from Town Council on July 2. She was sworn in on August 11–within 45 days of Nance’s resignation– as is required by state law. Her term will expire on June 30, 2016.
Six citizens applied for the position. All were interviewed individually by council on July 22 and 23. Council met in closed session on August 5 to consider the applicants.
Council members met again in a special closed session on August 10 to make their decision and then returned to Council Chambers to nominate Scheid and take a vote—which was unanimous.
Scheid comes to council with a 32-year career in the public sector on both federal and local levels, and with expertise in issues which council is currently facing involving stormwater, planning, and expansion of the greenways in the Vinton area.
Scheid was raised in historic Clifton, Virginia, which is located in Fairfax County. She graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. and then completed her Master’s Degree in Planning at Virginia Tech.
After college, she worked for nine years with the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1988 she and her husband, Bud LaRoche, moved to Roanoke, and she began working as a planner with Roanoke County. In 2008, she became the county’s Greenway Planner in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department. She retired from that position on January 1, 2011.
Scheid has not only been involved in local planning initiatives and the development of the Roanoke Greenway system in the Roanoke Valley both professionally and as a volunteer, but currently serves as Vinton’s representative to the Roanoke Greenway Commission.
She is acclaimed throughout the region for her efforts not only on behalf of the Greenways, but also as a founding member of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy (formerly known as the Western Virginia Land Trust). She served as president of the organization for three years.
She was nominated for a Cox Conserves Hero award based on her efforts especially in the preservation Carvin’s Cove and Mill Mountain, and was described by Conservancy executive director David Perry as “someone who gets involved with both feet.”
“Janet has had an immeasurable impact on the quality of life in the Roanoke Valley, helped protect thousands of acres of farmland, forests, and mountains from urban sprawl and inappropriate development; and improved air and water quality in the region,” said Perry.
Scheid is a 20-year breast cancer survivor and active on the Susan G. Komen Board of Directors. She supports and participates in the annual “Race for the Cure” fundraising events. She was recently appointed by the governor of Virginia to a five year term on the Board of Trustees for the Virginia Museum of Natural History.
Scheid and her husband have one son, Colby, who is currently a graduate student at Old Dominion University enrolled in the Doctorate Program in Physical Therapy. He will graduate in May 2016.
She is seen on almost a daily basis outdoors in Vinton hiking on the Greenway Trails. Her husband worked as a supervising biologist for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and has volunteered as a member of the Midweek Crew constructing the Roanoke Greenways.
As for why she applied for the position on council, Scheid said that “I have a strong commitment to serve the community I have called home for 27 years. I will dedicate myself to making Vinton an even better place to live, work and play. I am impressed with how well the Town operates and how congenially the Council conducts its business; and I feel like I will be a good fit with the existing team of council members.”
She is unsure whether she will seek to become a permanent member of Vinton Town Council by running in the May 2016 election.
Asked why she thought town council might have selected her, Scheid said, “I have long-term experience with local government and I think this was a factor. I have the ability to analyze information and data and understand complex local government issues. I believe the Town wanted someone who could hit the ground running and, although there will definitely be a learning curve for me, I am already conversant in many of the local issues.”
Scheid was welcomed by Mayor Brad Grose, Vice Mayor Matt Hare, Councilwoman Sabrina Weeks, and Councilman Doug Adams after the vote.
Mayor Grose complimented council for adhering to civility and mutual respect for one another’s opinions throughout the process. He thanked Town Manager Chris Lawrence and Administrative Assistant/Town Clerk Susan Johnson for their efforts in organizing and implementing the entire selection process in a “very professional manner.”
He thanked Scheid, along with fellow applicants Barbara “Bootie” Chewning, Justin Davison, Carolyn Fidler, Keith Liles, and Paul St. Clair, for being civic-minded and willing to serve the community and remarked that each and every one would have made an excellent council member. He urged all applicants to remain active in town affairs and to apply for other boards and commissions within the town government.
Vice Mayor Matt Hare remarked on the rarity of having two women serve on council at the same time and the fact that half of the applicants for the position were women. Scheid makes the third woman to ever serve on Vinton Town Council. Carolyn Fidler was the first, elected in 2004, followed by Weeks, elected in 2014. Hare said he welcomed the diversity, which will “make the town and council stronger.”
All members of council stated that it was a daunting task to choose a new councilmember, especially from such a highly qualified field.
“We took this process very seriously in acting for our constituents,” said Councilman Doug Adams.
Scheid’s first official meeting as a member of council will be on August 18.