The Radford City Council had a relatively light agenda for its regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening.
There were, however, several items related to public service for both the Radford community and the country.
First, Mayor David Horton highlighted the Radford Fire Department, which he described as “one of the best in the region.” He mentioned that this is Fire Prevention Week and that the community should be thankful for its excellent department and all that they do to keep citizens safe.
Horton then recognized Police Chief Don Goodman, who recently announced his retirement as of January 1, 2019. Horton said he wanted to “take a moment to reflect back on a career well-served.”
He went on to say that “Chief Goodman really has energized our police department; helped us move forward in so many ways; helped this community understand what it needs to do to be safe and to do the things to make this [Radford] a place where you want to be, a place where you want to live. I can’t imagine anyone who could have done a better job over the last decade.”
“Chief, we can’t thank you enough for everything that you have done for this community, for the police department, for all of us as citizens,” Horton added, before encouraging everyone present to give Goodman a standing ovation.
Goodman shared that the “last 10 plus, almost 11 years has been an absolute blessing in my life. I’ve received tremendous support not only from the elected bodies that have sat in those chairs [council] but the men and women that served with me back here [referring to officers in the audience]. I get to serve with men and women of honor daily.”
During the Citizens Comments portion of the meeting, Goodman took time to recognize a week in the life of Senior Police Officer Sean Weston.
He invited Weston to come forward and described actions that Weston handled during the week. They included—Day One: taking a report on a rape case; stopped five underaged children having an argument and finding their parents to get them to a safe place. Day Two: pulled a woman off the Memorial Bridge undergoing a mental health crisis, finding drugs in the process; arrested four people for public intoxication and trespassing (this all involved a foot pursuit). Day Three: He investigated a burglary that ended with an aggravated assault and another assault, making an arrest; seized drugs on a traffic stop; dealt with another person with a mental health crisis. Day Four: Handled a four-count drug case off of a noise violation; another arrest for drunkenness after a fight; a malicious wounding case with significant injuries and locating the suspect to make an arrest. Day Five: a domestic violence case with a double arrest. Then he got a chance to catch up on writing eight reports.
Goodman referred to Weston’s shift mates in the audience and said that could have been any one of their weeks. It “just happened to be Sean’s,” he said.
Goodman stated that he just wanted the council to see the humanity of the people who do police work. He also mentioned that Weston’s sergeant wrote a lengthy memo about how proud he was of the work Weston does. Goodman then presented Weston with the “Chief’s Challenge Coin” in recognition of his hard work and dedication.
Horton thanked the chief and said that his description of Weston’s work exemplifies the work ethic that all of Radford’s public safety employees contribute. He said that although those things may not all be included in all officers’ typical weeks, they are the kinds of interactions police officers have regularly.
Councilman Rob Gropman thanked the officers for all they do. He encouraged anyone who would like to know more about what police officers experience to go on a ride-along or through the Citizens’ Police Academy program.
Vice-Mayor Dick Harshberger described incidents he remembered of police being shot when he was living in Philadelphia, and the risks police officers take each night.
Councilwoman Jessie Critterton said she has committed to doing a ride-along at least once every three months because it is difficult to understand what police are working on without experiencing it oneself.
Councilwoman Naomi Huntington, as a defense attorney, complimented Radford officers on their high degree of professionalism. She said that because of her work she has a real appreciation for what law enforcement does and thanked the police officers for their service, saying Radford is fortunate to have the police force that it has.
In another service-oriented discussion, Critterton shared that the American Legion renovation project has been moving right along. She thanked Onassis Burress for his hard work on the project.
She said that the committee had its first meeting with a couple of construction companies. Home Depot is going to assist the committee with writing a grant, and many supplies will hopefully be written off by that company. She mentioned that Service Contracting of Virginia and Crockett Home Improvement were involved.
Critterton shared that the American Legion building has a wall listing service members from the community.
Those with stars by their names indicates that they were killed in action. Critterton said that during the moment of silence at each meeting, she will remember a service member.
At Monday’s meeting, she remembered Technical Sergeant Culver W. Alderman (U.S. Army Air Force) of Radford, who died in a plane crash on April 14, 1945, in Germany when returning to base after a resupply and evacuation mission in a C-47 aircraft.
Again talking about the renovation, Critterton said, “My heart is just so full with everything the community has done for these veterans, and they are so, so grateful and thankful. They’re very, very proud and would never ask us for any of this help, and the fact that we’re doing it means more to them than you’ll ever know.”
She said that contractors would be beginning work on the Legion building, and those who have volunteered will be called to help soon.
The city council approved a proclamation making October “National Arts and Humanities Month” in the city. Horton stated that Radford “is incredibly fortunate to have so many talented people here in our community, people that come to this community to study the arts, to spread more about arts and humanities here in the city…it enriches our lives in so many ways.”
Vice-Mayor Dick Harshberger introduced the proclamation by saying that he came to Radford because of the arts in 1971 to direct “The Long Way Home” about Mary Draper Ingles, and moved to the city to stay in 1975.
The proclamation mentioned that the “arts and humanities enhance every aspect of life in the City of Radford improving our economy, enriching our civic life, driving tourism, and exerting a profound positive influence on the education of our children.”
In new business as an information item, Horton reviewed the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER report). This annual summary lists accomplishments for the Consolidated Plan, which is a framework for identifying housing and community development priorities aligned with the Community Development Block Grant program.
The $283,420 grant was used for funding programs that assist underprivileged children through Beans and Rice, the Bobcat Backpack program and August Kids; assisted city residents in finding and/or maintaining permanent housing through the Homeless Intervention Program (HIP) of New River Community Action; provided transitional housing and supportive services to city residents who are victims of domestic violence through the Women’s Resource Center’s Cornerstone facility; and included repayment of the Section 108 loan through HUD (City Manager David Ridpath indicated that this is the final payment on that loan).
The report is available for public review and comment on the Radford City website, at the public library, and at the Radford City administrative offices.
In council comments, Critterton mentioned the Glencoe Museum’s 20th anniversary coming up on Saturday. She said the Oct. 20 Craft and Draft program is still looking for volunteers and donations. She said one could find more information on Facebook or greenheronarts.com. Right now over 40 artists and music are included.
Critterton reported being selected for the Tenacious House at Belle Heth for the school’s special House program. She also suggested getting schools to come in once a month to share goals and achievements as well as setting up a tour of facilities as per the previous school board-city council joint meeting.
Critterton mentioned a “Why Now—Local Women in Politics” panel discussion coming up on October 29 and encouraged everyone to get involved.
Gropman thanked everyone associated with the Radford Highlanders Festival for a great event as usual. He also mentioned the Nicole Smith Run/Walk coming up this Saturday at Shelter Three in Bisset Park.
Nicole Smith was the wife of a Radford police officer who passed recently, and the proceeds of the run/walk will go to the American Heart Association in her name. The kid’s event takes place at 9:30 a.m. and the run is at 10:00.
Huntington stated that they had the first meeting of the Sustainability Work Group. They are setting up goals and will be inviting others in for sessions.
They will also be having speakers who will share information. Horton followed up that the group will be coming up with several possible goals and then the council will give them their formal charge.
Harshberger mentioned that the Agency on Aging’s funds had been cut; however, the Guns and Hoses Games at Calfee Park raised funds to help with the program.
He also mentioned the golf tournament for the Early Childhood Learning Center, which raised quite a bit of money for that program.
Horton shared that he and Gropman attended the Virginia Municipal League meetings. Horton also participated in the Annual Mayors’ Institute, which gave him a chance to share information with leaders in similar positions across the state. He said it was great to share information, but it’s also good to know that all municipalities have issues to deal with, and Horton said he felt Radford was doing pretty well compared to some areas.
Horton said that there might be a state budget surplus and funding may be applied to school renovation, which could be beneficial to Radford and other school divisions across the state. He said that this could “dovetail nicely” with the meeting discussions between the school board and city council about the school division’s renovation needs.
Horton reported that he and Gropman received the Platinum Certification Award in the Go Green Challenge. He said, “We are one of the few communities to make it to platinum status…It was fantastic being among the ‘cream of the crop’ in this area.”
This recognition results from city efforts with fuel-efficient vehicles, community engagement, stormwater management, waste management, the percentage of recycling, public education, etc.
Horton said that the Sustainability Committee recommendations could help maintain that platinum level of certification moving forward.
Horton also mentioned that the Municipal League meetings provided some excellent information on communication about budgeting. A focus on “citizen-centered budgeting” was discussed.
It gives a clearer picture of what a municipality’s priorities are, where the money is coming from and where the money is going.
Horton also commended everyone involved with the Radford Highlanders Festival, commenting that people come from all over the commonwealth each year to attend and many wouldn’t miss it.
He also reminded everyone about upcoming events. He pointed out the Glencoe celebration and also that the Radford High School Homecoming, Radford University Homecoming and Craft and Brew are all on the same weekend, and that is an excellent opportunity for local businesses. The last weekend for the Farmers Market is also coming up this Saturday.
Circling back to Fire Prevention Week, Horton reminded citizens to take a look around their homes with fire safety in mind, sharing the following suggestions: Look for overloaded circuits.
Make sure you have clear pathways and an escape plan for your family. Change batteries for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they work.
Finally, Ridpath reminded everyone that paving would be taking place soon for Rt. 232 and at the end of Memorial Bridge.