By Kasey Trapuzzano
The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors held its monthly meeting at the Botetourt County Administrative Offices in Daleville on June 28.
The board heard public comments from two Botetourt County residents. A Fincastle resident expressed his concern for the proposed interchange on International Parkway and Ashley Way roads in Daleville, saying he would rather see the money that’s going toward the $4.5 million project put to different use by improving some of the county’s unpaved roads and curvy backroads that Botetourt County Public School (BCPS) school buses must travel to transport students.
According to the VDOT website, VDOT plans to improve traffic flow and safety by converting the intersection at Route 220 and Route 839/Route 1126 (International Parkway/Ashley Way) to a restricted crossing U-turn (RCUT).
This restricted crossing U-turn (RCUT) would eliminate left turns from Route 839 and Route 1126 onto Route 220 and eliminate through movements across Route 220. Drivers who currently turn left onto Route 220 or drive straight across would make right turns onto Route 220 and proceed to make a U-turn at a pair of new U-turn locations located approximately 650 feet north and south of the intersection. The project also includes modifying an existing crossover about 0.2 mile south of the intersection and adding a Route 220 pedestrian crossing.
A Troutville resident who lives on Black Hill Lane also expressed road concerns to the board and urged that the speed limit on Black Hill Lane be dropped from 35 mph to at least 25 mph.
Following the public comment period, the board discussed introductions and recognitions. Mahesh Tailor, the county’s director of technology services, recognized the retirement of Vincent Seneker, systems support engineer II, at the end of June.
“There are so many good things we can say about Vincent but that might take all afternoon,” Tailor said.
Tailor introduced a new member of Technology Services Nick Hudson, who joins the team as the new systems engineer. Hudson comes to Botetourt from Colonial Grounds with years of experience in managing service systems, the Cloud, and security.
“Nick has big boots to fit into with the departure of Vincent…and so far, Nick is fitting into these boots very nicely,” Tailor said.
Director of Elections and General Registrar Traci Clark introduced Kathie Smith, who joins the Department of Elections and Voter Registration as the new assistant deputy registrar. Smith comes to Botetourt from Titan American and began her new role on June 20.
“[Kathie] is used to a hectic, fast-paced environment, so I think she will fit right in and be able to handle whatever the election role throws at her,” Clark said.
Richard Bailey, board member for the Fincastle District and chairman of the board, discussed the staff transition in the Treasurer’s Office following the early retirement of Treasurer Bill Arney. Donna Boothe, the current chief deputy treasurer who’s worked in the Treasurer’s Office for over 27 years, will take over as treasurer on July 1, per state law.
Jason Ferguson, Fire & EMS chief, and Taylor Lunsford, Fire & EMS recruitment and retention specialist, discussed the inaugural Girls’ Fire Camp and played a video from the camp, which took place on June 18 at Lord Botetourt High School. The camp hoped to diversify a primarily male-dominated field and inspire more females to work in Fire & EMS departments.
Ferguson said the Fire & EMS Department applied and received a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) grant through the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), which assisted in funding the event. Girls between 1st and 12th grade were able to attend the camp for a day full of education and hands-on instruction.
“We hoped to ignite a love for Fire & EMS in them,” Lunsford said.
Lunsford said the initial 50 registration spots were filled within the first 24 hours of promotion for the event, with another 45 girls on the wait list. The department expanded the number of registration spots to 60, with a total of 53 girls in attendance on the day of the camp from Botetourt, Roanoke, New Castle, Goodview, Hardy, Salem, Bedford and Lexington.
Lunsford said while there are plenty of Girls’ Fire Camps across the country, these types of camps are more typical on the West Coast in bigger Fire & EMS departments and that this is believed to be the first Girls’ Fire Camp in the region. Ferguson said coverage of the Botetourt Fire & EMS Girls’ Fire Camp has been picked up nationally by The Washington Post.
Ken McFayden, director of economic development, and Debbie Custer introduced two of the six 2022 Gauntlet winners from Botetourt: gold place winner Morgan Myers, owner of Building System Integrations (BSI), and gold place winner Katie Riddle, owner of Perfectly Polished. Gauntlet is Virginia’s largest business program and competition that connects entrepreneurs to the training, mentorship and resources needed for success.
Myers is a Botetourt County native whose six-month-old company focuses on energy efficiency in homes. BSI provides services for air leakage and duct leakage testing in homes.
“[Those] are two major portions of the house that can cost of a lot of money and cost a lot of comfort issues,” Myers said.
Riddle’s company is a mobile, in-home professional nail service that serves residents of Botetourt and surrounding Roanoke areas in the comfort and convenience of their own homes. Riddle said Perfectly Polished is the first business of this kind in the Roanoke Valley. Currently, Riddle is the company’s only employee, but said she soon hopes to hire other licensed technicians and branch out into other locations such as Salem, parts of Rockbridge and Alleghany Counties, Lexington and expanding further into Roanoke County and City,
“Due to COVID-19 and WiFi being widely available, more people than ever are working from home and not going out as much,” Riddle said. “The business model of Perfectly Polished makes it possible for us to meet clients where they are. In addition to the shift in the workplace, culturally we’re experiencing a huge shift in the consumer experience. We’re living in a time of Amazon [and] Door Dash…and overwhelmingly, consumers are choosing the convenience of having goods and services delivered directly to their door.”
Afterward, the board unanimously approved the consent agenda. Tony Zerrilla, director of finance, presented the transfers and additional appropriations for the month of June and accounts of payable and ratification of the short accounts payable list for the month of June to the board, which the board unanimously approved. Zerrilla also presented the FY23 Budget Appropriation Resolution and the Capital Improvement Plan. The board approved the FY23 Budget Appropriated Resolution as presented and adopted the Capital Improvement Plan for planning purposes only for the fiscal years of 2024-27.
Robin Keeler, VDOT assistant resident administrator, provided VDOT’s monthly update. Keeler said the Route 220 project south of Route 43 is still under construction but will soon be finishing up. At this point, there are limited impacts to traffic, Keeler said. Sugar Tree Hollow Road and Tinker Mill Road culvert replacements were scheduled to be finished by early July, Keeler said, and state workers are working on prepping roads for resurfacing contracts. End of School Zone signs were relocated on Narrow Passage Road and Springwood Road on May 20, per a traffic engineering work order request.
Keeler said there was a request for an evaluation for reduction of the speed limit on Catawba Road but after a study conducted in May, the reduction wasn’t warranted at this time. There was a request to install bicycle road signs on Route 11/Lee Highway, Keeler said, which were installed between the Exit 150 and Exit 162 interchanges on both north- and south-bound lanes on Route 11. Lastly, Keeler said state workers are doing routine maintenance projects throughout the area including brushwork, mowing and patching.
Amy White, board member for the Buchanan District, asked VDOT for an evaluation for reduction of the speed limit at Middle Creek Campground due to accidents and increased summer traffic. Bailey asked VDOT to consider redoing lines and striping on Old Fincastle Road.
The board reconsidered and unanimously approved the authorization of a public hearing for revisions to Chapter 11, Article IV: Participation of Minors in Volunteer Fire Companies, which was previously tabled at the Board of Supervisors meeting in May. Ferguson explained the current code section that the Fire & EMS Department has, which doesn’t allow junior members under 18 years old to enter a burning building regardless of their credentials or qualifications.
“Just looking at our ordinance compared to localities throughout Virginia and around Southwest Virginia, we’re in the minority in terms of what we’re doing by being as restrictive as we are,” Ferguson said. “What I mean by that is, we allow for the participation of minors at 16 and 17 years of age fully to achieve their Firefighter 1 Certification. They’re allowed to go into a controlled burning building to achieve that certification and then once they achieve certification, if they’re 16 and a half or 17, they can’t go into a burning building until they turn 18. We basically put them on pause as a junior member. They can still respond to calls, but they basically can’t go into the building that’s on fire and help put it out even though they’re credentialed as a firefighter in the Commonwealth.”
Ferguson said surrounding areas such as Roanoke County, Albemarle County, Amherst County, Franklin County, Bedford County and Montgomery County all authorize full participation for junior members upon receipt of certification.
Ferguson presented revisions to the current policy: junior members can’t go into a burning building by themselves but can go into a burning building alongside two adult firefighters who are 18 years or older. Ferguson said this revision would impact roughly 12 junior members who are certified or in the process of being certified but are under 18 years of age. This accounts for 5-7% of the firefighters at the Botetourt Fire & EMS Department.
The public hearing regarding revisions to Chapter 11, Article IV: Participation of Minors in Volunteer Fire Companies will take place in July.
The board unanimously approved the authorization of the county attorney to petition the court for a writ of election for a special election in November 2022 to fill the unexpired term for the office of treasurer. The special election would be for Bill Arney’s unexpired term through December 31, 2023. If the writ is issued and runs concurrent with this November’s election, Clark said parties and independent candidates will have until August 19 at 5 p.m. to submit their paperwork to the Department of Elections and Voter Registration to be on the ballot.
The board unanimously approved the appointment of Patsy Dickerson as a member to the Board of Social Services. Bill Burleson’s term expires July 1, 2022, and is not eligible for reappointment, having already served two terms. Dickerson will serve a four-year term, expiring July 1, 2026.
The board unanimously approved the appointment of Laura Mays-Smith, director of social services, as a Community Policy and Management Team (CPMT) representative. Mays-Smith will serve a two-year term, expiring July 1, 2024.
The next public session Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on July 26 at 2 p.m. To read this month’s Board of Supervisors agenda package, visit https://www.botetourtva.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06282022-280.