Once again members of Vinton Town Council were able to focus on the positives happening in the town at their meeting on February 21.
Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Chris Linkous introduced Wayne King, a new Firefighter/Paramedic. He also recognized Lieutenant Larry Whiting for earning his National Registry Paramedic certification— the highest level of certification in their profession.
Vinton Police Chief Tom Foster and Deputy Chief Fabricio Drumond recognized seven officers— Lt. Glenn Austin, Sgt. Tim Lawless, Acting Sgt. Chris Froeschl, Det. Todd Bailey, Corporal Scott Hurt, Officer Silas Chapman, and Officer Danny Cox—as Officers of the Month for January. Their teamwork resulted in the arrest of a suspect wanted for vandalism and larceny involving 14 vehicles, a threat to bomb/burn a residence, and a misdemeanor warrant for property damage.
Volunteer First Aid Crew Chief Wayne Guffey introduced two new members, Crystal Aliamo and Nicholas Mattheisen. Aliamo is a teacher; Mattheisen works for Carilion Transportation. The crew has 49 members currently with seven in the application process.
Guffey also presented the January 2017 report which indicated that the volunteers had a total of 1,840 man-hours of service to the citizens of Vinton and East Roanoke County last month, with a quick fractal response time of 8.94 minutes, when 12 minutes is considered standard. The crew had a unit in service 100 percent of the time, with a medic truck (Advanced Life Support) marked up 83 percent of the time and a Basic Life Support unit, 17 percent of the time. The goal is 80/20 percent for ALS/BLS.
With the budget process for next year getting underway, council is beginning to hear from community organizations requesting funding. Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angie Chewning thanked council for the past support. She detailed the multitude of special events and services that the Chamber provides and asked for continued financial support.
Lisa Kornegay, who chairs the William Byrd High School PTSA After Prom Committee (for the ninth year), asked council to continue making a donation to the event which “keeps kids safe and off the streets” on Prom Night, this year scheduled for April 8. Last year 385 students attended the free event with 90 percent of them staying the entire night.
After Prom is an extravagantly organized and decorated event open to Byrd students, whether they attended the prom or not. This year’s theme is #GlowYourOwnWay. Gift cards are distributed throughout the evening to entice students to stay all night. The annual and always balanced budget runs about $10,000 funded by donations from the community.
Vice Mayor Matt Hare encouraged all Vinton businesses and clubs to contribute to the event.
Council took action to appropriate funds of $1,429 from the collection of scrap metal by the Public Works Department to the Public Works Department budget.
Council also appropriated $10,049 received from VML for an insurance claim for fire damage to the Vinton War Memorial on December 14, 2016, during a rental by a third party. VML reimbursed the town for its deductible.
Council regretfully turned down two offers from Sarah and Henry Brabham gifting a private road and a stormwater best management facility between Niagara Road and Vinyard Road to the town. Council’s reasoning was that the private road would require a significant outlay of funds from the town to be brought up to VDOT standards and is currently unaffordable.
Accepting the retention pond would set a precedent for the town taking over some 45 other private stormwater facilities, also too costly to consider at this time. Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty recused herself from the vote as her husband, Chris McCarty, has a business interest in the property, along with the Brabhams. The Brabhams and McCarty have spent a great deal of money in the past several years keeping the stormwater facility up to standards required by the county.
Chief Foster briefed council on a new Safe Exchange Zone located in the parking lot of the Municipal Building. The SEZ allows for child custody exchanges and Internet sales exchanges, such as Craigslist, to take place under the watchful eye of a surveillance camera, 24 hours a day. This is the first SEZ in the Roanoke Valley. The police have partnered with Public Works to create and mark off the space.
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters briefed council on the addition of many special events to the 2017 town calendar, along with a plan to facilitate parking and road closures during the events.
He welcomed the Event Zone “Party in the Park” to Vinton. They will be hosting at least eight family-friendly concerts, generally on the fourth Friday each month, to be held at the Vinton Farmers’ Market, in addition to the existing Mingle at the Market concert series sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
During the financial report, Vice Mayor Matt Hare reported that revenues and cash on hand are up, while expenditures are down. Primary economic indicators of business license fees, sales tax, and meals tax have increased significantly.
Citizen Danny Harrison asked council, in the interests of public safety, to make changes to the traffic signal near Bojangles and McDonalds at the intersection of Hardy and Vinyard Roads. There is one signal allowing traffic to turn from Vinyard onto Hardy from both directions, which he considers to be hazardous. Council referred the issue to the Highway Safety Committee which is meeting soon.
On a sad note, council adopted a resolution honoring Public Works employee Kevin Alan Daining, who passed away on January 21. A photograph of Daining at the Tinker Creek canoe launch will be marked with a plaque and hung in the foyer of the Municipal Building.