CLIFTON FORGE — Councilman Dave Oeltjen has announced his candidacy for re-election to Clifton Forge Town Council in the Nov. 3 election.
Oeltjen, a Vietnam veteran, came to the area with his wife, Jenny, in 2013 to fill a management position at Covington’s Walmart store. Once relocating to Clifton Forge, Oeltjen immediately embraced the town as his home.
He successfully ran for Clifton Forge Town Council in 2015 and has served on council for the past four years. Oeltjen also serves on the Alleghany County Planning Commission and is a member on the board of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
Oeltjen attends Clifton Forge Presbyterian Church, sings in the choir and volunteers for many other local organizations, including the Historic Masonic Theatre, the annual Gran Fondo, Main Street’s Triathalon, and he is active in Corridor Curb Appeal Vision 2025 cleanup activities.
Oeltjen has financially invested in Clifton Forge as well. He and his wife, Jenny, own and operate Livy’s Closet on Ridgeway.
He remarked, “The success of our downtown businesses is vital to the success of the entire town, both now and in the future. We’ve increased the number of business licenses from 145 in 2011 to 171 in 2019. Revenue from businesses resulted in $646,266.”
Oeltjen has a solid understanding of what Clifton Forge is today and is passionate about what Clifton Forge can become. He is committed to keeping downtown businesses healthy and knows that Clifton Forge is dependent upon the revenues generated through locally collected sales and meals tax to meet the budgetary requirements that keep Clifton Forge moving forward.
Oeltjen feels that the town has benefitted from many successes over the last few years.
“These successes are a result of numerous people working together”, he said, “Town employees, council members, business leaders, a strong Main Street organization and many volunteers who are committed to a bright future for our town.”
Projects that have made a difference and a lasting impression in Clifton Forge are Roxbury neighborhood improvements as a result of grants, the completion of the renovation and successful operation of the Historic Masonic Theatre, in addition to an increase of new businesses in Clifton Forge.
A huge visual improvement involved the removal of the abandoned C&O maintenance buildings at no cost to the town and the transfer of the property to the Houff Corporation which has resulted in a successful business and tax revenue for the town.
Dam improvements which ensure safety for town residents should be completed in the coming months. These examples, along with other efforts approved by members of Clifton Forge Town Council were accomplished through meaningful debate, discussion and input by all members to achieve the desired results, thus adding fiscal stability for the community.
Vision and planning are crucial for Clifton Forge as well as an overall need to develop a partnership with all communities within the Alleghany Highlands to create growth for our area, he said.
“By improving our housing and our infrastructure, Clifton Forge can become the desired place to live, work and grow for all ages,” Oeltjen said.
Oeltjen is running again for re-election because “I care about the future of Clifton Forge. We should all realize what we have before us, and envision what it can become, then formulate plans to make it happen.”
Oeltjen believes that the roadblock to achieving success is not in the funding, but in the lack of developing the vision. With nearly 50 years of retail and business management, he has experience and knows how to implement a vision. Creating a vision for Clifton Forge and executing that vision should include all its residents, he said.
“If we turned off all the lights and locked all the doors, who in this community would be affected? All of us would be affected just as it takes all of us to implement a vision for our future with all of us reaping the benefits,” he said.
“A divided town will not prosper,” he continued. “A divided town will not recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I offer an alternative to those who seek division rather than unity.”
Oeltjen said the Coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected Clifton Forge and surrounding communities.
“COVID-19 has affected our community negatively,” he said. “It has changed the way we traditionally do things.
“Many of those changes will be with us going into the post-COVID future,” he added. “We cannot rely on the way we have always done things because that will not change the reality before us. We must think creatively and strategically, with planning and perspective.
“We must choose leaders for our community who know how to do this, who have experience in implementing a plan,” Oeltjen concluded. “Moving forward with new initiatives can change the stagnant past. New ideas and imagination will propel Clifton Forge into the future. Let us move forward together.
“I appreciate your vote competence and character on Nov. 3,” he said.
The Virginian Review has been serving Covington, Clifton Forge, Alleghany County and Bath County since 1914.