At the Iron Gate Town Council Meeting on Thurs., Dec. 29, Charles “Chuck” Unroe, mayor of Iron Gate for the past eight years, passed the gavel to Councilman Gary Craig, mayor-elect.
Before Unroe handed the gavel to Craig, he recalled that the gavel had been removed from a dumpster following a fire at the Iron Gate Town Hall and that it had been given to him to use during his eight years as mayor.
Unroe expressed hope that the Town of Iron Gate is on the verge of an upswing in that it has $260,000 in its account to address infrastructure problems, mainly the upgrading and/or replacement of water and sewer lines.
He thanked the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission for helping the Town of Iron Gate prepare and submit a $5.2 million grant proposal to address the infrastructure problems concerning the Town’s water and sewer lines.
Earlier in the meeting, Council voted to allow a church that had an underground water line break during the recent freeze to pay a normal water bill rather than the exorbitant one that was due to the break underground that did not send water into the sewer system which would have cost the Town extra for sewage treatment.
In other business, the Town approved a permit for a resident to raise chickens inside the Town’s limits after Unroe reported that the resident met all of the Town’s regulations regarding the raising of chickens in the Town of Iron Gate.
Unroe explained that the Town faces sewer and water rate increases every year because it is dependent on Alleghany County, and he added that Alleghany County has faced inflation, forcing the increase in its rates each year.
He also noted that in previous years, the Town of Iron Gate did not qualify for submitting grant proposals that required matching funds because the Town did not have the funds on hand that met the grant proposal requirements.
He said that thankfully the $5.2 million grant proposal that has been submitted does not require any matching funds, and he thanked the Appalachian Regional Commission for its engineering assistance that began in 2015 for its help in providing assistance in gathering the necessary information needed to write grant proposals.
Unroe observed, “They’ve stepped back up for the Town, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
During other business approved by Council, reimbursement of $126.01 was approved for a water leak that was not the resident’s fault, and Council approved the payment of four bills in addition to its regular bills that were due.
Unroe also praised Councilwoman Kawahna Persinger for assisting the YMCA by letting the nonprofit organization use the Town’s decorations for the annual Halloween Spooktacular.
She drove the Town’s decorations to the YMCA, helped decorate, assisted in taking down the decorations and returned them to the Town of Iron Gate.
Unroe received three honorary plaques during the meeting, one from Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall, another from Jerry Clark on behalf of “The Alleghany Journal” and the third from Vice-Mayor Richard Erskine.
The plaque presented by Hall revealed “Iron Gate, 1890, Gateway to the Highlands” at the top, and beneath the title it read, “In appreciation of the Iron Gate Mayor, Chuck Unroe, Mayor 2014-2022.”
Beneath that it stated, “We thank you for your leadership in fostering a positive working relationship between the citizens of the town of Iron Gate, and the Alleghany Co./Covington Sheriff’s Office.”
The sheriff’s logo was imprinted at the bottom beside the message, “Presented by: Sheriff Kevin Hall, Dec. 29, 2022.”
Clark’s plaque read at the top, “Mayor “Chuck” Unroe.” The body of the text stated, “Thank you for years of dedication to duty to the Town of Iron Gate & for the countless courtesies you have shown us in keeping the public informed.”
At the bottom of the plaque, it revealed, “Alleghany-Journal.com, December 29, 2022.”
The third plaque read, “This Plaque Is Given With Gratitude To: Charles W. Unroe.”
The text stated, “In honor of your service to the Town of Iron Gate, first as a council member, then as mayor for eight years.”
Additionally, it read, “We thank you for your dedicated & committed service.”
At the bottom of the plaque, it stated, “Given by: The Iron Gate Town Council, employees, & citizens.”
Unroe expressed his thanks to all concerned, and he revealed that eight years ago, the Town of Iron Gate was struggling to pay its employees each month.
Unroe remembered, “With a small town of 355 people and no tax base of business, we often struggled to pay our employees.”
He added, “But, our employees always got their paychecks.”
“I really think we’ve come a long way, and I think we can look to better times,” Unroe concluded.
During the meeting, Council voted to move the Jan. work session back from 20-23 to Jan. 9, 2023.
Craig weighed in on his new responsibility by saying, “I’m not afraid to ask for help.”
He added, “I’ll be leaning on our Council members.”
Craig’s voice revealed the emotions he was feeling as he thanked Unroe for the guidance and encouragement he has received from Unroe while serving on Council.