Political fireworks took place before nightfall in the Town of Clifton Forge as Pam Marshall, the Town’s first black woman mayor, resigned prior to the Town Council’s meeting at 7:00 p.m.
The physical waterworks took place at night after the Clifton Forge Town Council met and a water hydrant burst.
Marshall entered Town Manager Chuck Unroe’s office at 4:55 p.m. and handed in the town-issued telephone along with her letter of resignation without explanation and walked out.
A fire hydrant on the corner of Church St. and Jefferson Ave. burst after the Town Council met, and water under pressure shot down the library side of Jefferson Ave. some 60” toward Town Hall, flooding Main Street where Jefferson Ave. intersects with Main St. in front of Town Hall.
During the Town Council meeting that was conducted by Vice-Mayor Jeff Irvine, Council accepted Marshall’s letter of resignation along with the letter of resignation from Ronald Goings who had submitted his letter after winning an election to become a member of the Alleghany Co. Board of Supervisors.
Also, Council approved via a 3-0 vote by Councilman Shorty Wolfe, Councilman Bob Umstead and Irvine to sell a vacant parcel south of Bath St. between Alleghany St. and Roxbury St. listed as Tax Map Number 12200-01-134-AAOO to Dennis Putnam, Jr. and Betty Putnam for $1,500.
LeAnn Tyler read a letter submitted on Dec. 21, 2021 by Justin Reiter, executive director of The Historic Masonic Theatre, thanking The Alleghany Foundation, the Town of Clifton Forge and volunteers for the outstanding support that the theatre received during its 2021 battle to stay open while battling financial challenges in addition to COVID-19.
Because Council had accepted Marshall’s letter of resignation, Council passed a motion to table items 11, 12 and 13 on the agenda until regrouping at a called meeting set for Jan. 25 at 7:00 p.m.
Marshall did not attend the meeting, but Goings was present, sitting in the audience wearing his mask as Council bid him farewell.
Town Manager Chuck Unroe announced that Chad Wickline is now serving as Chief of Police and as CMS coordinator, and he noted that they are working together to develop protocol and guidelines.
Unroe referenced a magazine article about the need for rural communities to improve their services. The “VTC Virginia Town & City” is a magazine published by the Virginia Municipal League.
The article Unroe read from is titled, “Answer the Call: How to nurture volunteer fire –EMS programs.”
In the article, Chief John Eversole of the Chicago Police Department opined that the public wants firefighters to be decathlon champions who show up with five brain-surgeons who respond within three minutes of an emergency call.
Hyperbolic statements in the article aside, Unroe told Council that the article sums up the problem that rural communities are facing, the need for qualified volunteers to serve while a dwindling force of volunteers continues.
Unroe finished by reading the following from the magazine, “…As I mentioned earlier in this article when the public calls 911, what they want – what they expect is someone who knows what they are doing, and they want them there fast.”
Wolfe commented that one of his workers had been injured on the job and that it took help two hours to arrive.
Unroe stressed the need to recruit high-quality volunteers, and he noted that the Clifton Forge Armory has benefited from the renovations that are near completion, restoring the facility’s restrooms. He predicted that the project will be completed prior to the end of Jan.
He also shared with the small gathering of six citizens that the recycling capacitor has been built and a pad site prepared for it. However, he observed that a control panel needs to be installed before delivery and electricity must be hooked up once set in place.
Also, Unroe informed Council that Robby Boyd is now working as coordinator of emergencies.
During the “Council Comments” on the agenda, Umstead remarked that people from Covington want to know what Council has done to improve Clifton Forge.
He also expressed his concern that if the consolidation of Alleghany and Covington schools results in Covington having three votes and Alleghany Co. having four votes that Clifton Forge could be without representation on the new school board.
Also, he shared his belief that school board members should be elected, and he noted that he plans to distribute ballots to former teachers in order to gain support for representation on the yet to be formed school board that will be formed as part of the consolidation process.
Irvine said, “Now that Pam Marshall has resigned we’ve got to change things.”
After his comment, Council set the called meeting for Jan. 25, and a discussion was held about the process of interviewing those who may express interest in filling the two positions.
Vice-Mayor Irvine will continue in his position and conduct the duties that Marshall performed during her tenure as Mayor of Clifton Forge.
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.