Encouraged by ‘Realignment’ and eliminating Tourism Coordinator


I am encouraged by what I read in The Herald last week under the headline “Realigned.” I want to commend County Administrator Gary Larrowe on his announced reorganization and reduction in force (RIF) plan.

I hope this is just the beginning and this is evidence of a broader pattern of county policy that is beginning to be “Realigned.”

County economic development policy of the last 20 years has proven ineffective and must be “Realigned.” The decision to eliminate the Tourism Coordinator and merge Tourism with Economic Development makes sense.

The Tourism and Marketing Department had an annual budget of over $230,000. Data available from The Virginia Tourism Corporation shows that travel-related tax revenue for Botetourt County has grown less than 3 percent per year since 2006.

In 2006, before a Tourism Department or even the Sports Complex, travel-related tax revenue returned to the county was $1,194,692 and in 2015 it had increased to only $1,563,933 or about $369,241 over a nine-year period, which would be a $41,000 increase per year. That is basically the inflation rate so, in real money, virtually no increase.

The Tourism and Marketing Department has been costing $230,000 a year and the Botetourt Sports Complex, which we were told was built “for the benefit of economic impact,” costing $400,000 per year.

Therefore, the county has been spending over $600,000 a year to generate $41,000 in increased tax revenue.

The math is simple – the Sports Complex and a Tourism Coordinator have not generated enough revenue to cover even a fraction of their own expenses, much less add additional revenue.

There is no denying the excellence of the Tourism Department’s campaign, “What’s Your Bot-e-Type?” and the beauty of the Botetourt Sports Complex, as both have won awards from their respective government associations.

Unfortunately, association awards can’t build an urgently needed Colonial Elementary or provide Botetourt County teachers and deputies competitive wages – that takes actual money.

Money that simply has not nor has any indication will ever come from a Tourism Coordinator or the Botetourt Sports Complex.

J. D. Robinson



Driverless cars, asphalt and dark clothes


Maybe the coming of “driverless cars” isn’t such a bad thing! Perhaps these things will give turn signals all the time, unlike it seems 50 percent of the drivers today that do not. And maybe those same cars can recognize that big yellow vehicle loading and unloading students on the highways and streets with red lights flashing that seem to be invisible to some drivers today!

Someone tell me why they lay out a pristine strip of asphalt only to return two weeks later and dig up areas and recreate the bumps they sought to eliminate before– what needs corrected then and why was it not dealt with before? And why do they repair some roads but then stop at a point 10 feet away from the worst potholes– like the 1700 block of Lugar Lane in Fincastle?

Lastly for now, it takes a bit of common sense to survive in this world and walking in the dead of night in dark clothes with a look-alike pistol exposed and not being able to hear police commands because of wearing stupid headphones smacks of ignorance.

Just saying.

Paul Johnson



VDOT reminds drivers to be safe in work zones


Each spring, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and other state DOTs recognize Work Zone Awareness Week to remind drivers of the importance of avoiding distractions and driving safely through work zones. We invite you to join VDOT in the annual observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week April 3-7. This week is a reminder that work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Our employees and contractors put their lives on the line in work zones every day while working to improve travel for motorists in Virginia. This is true in mobile operations like mowing, paving and plowing snow, as well as in our established work zones for long-term construction projects like bridge replacements, 10th Street in the city of Roanoke, I-81 at exit 105, Southgate at Virginia Tech and I-81 at exit 150. Although signs, cones and safety vests can be effective in warning motorists of a work zone, these tools are no protection against a fast-moving vehicle or an inattentive driver.

Did you know…

• Every time a driver takes their focus off the road — even for a moment — they put their lives and the lives of others in danger.

• Four out of five persons who die in work zone crashes are motorists – drivers and passengers – not highway workers.

• In 2016, there were 2,427 work zone related crashes leading to 1,170 work zone injuries and 10 fatalities from 9 fatal crashes.

All motorists — whether a seasoned driver or someone new behind the wheel — should follow these instructions when driving through a work zone:

• When you see the orange work zone warning signs, be alert for changing conditions ahead.

• Slow down in work zones and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

• Minimize distractions. Avoid using mobile devices when behind the wheel.

Follow our Twitter page @VaDOTSalem and share our messages, pictures and hashtags throughout the week.

We appreciate your efforts to keep our roads and work zones safe for everyone.

Ken King, P.E.

District Engineer

Salem District


Bloodmobile in Fincastle April 13,


The Bloodmobile will be at the Fincastle United Methodist Church Family Life Center from noon until 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13. Let’s start the spring season with the opportunity to give new growth and life to our fellow man by donating much needed blood! Here is your chance to give a little back to your community and your fellow man by donating something you have plenty of– blood!

Our last blood drive, we collected 38 units. Thanks everyone who came!

Thanks to Sally Field, Sharlotte Sink and Robbin Saunders for providing the cookies and desserts for our donors and staff. Thanks to Doris Rexrode for scheduling and picking up the food. Thanks to Heritage Family Market for providing ham, turkey and roast beef sandwiches with all the trimmings. They serve these sandwiches every day! They were enjoyed by all. Thank you Heritage Family Market for supporting for your community.

We are depending on you to come and give the gift of life! Be sure and mark your calendar today! Donate blood, help us deliver life!

Sam Saunders