Editor’s note: This is a compilation of some of the biggest stories The Salem Times-Register covered over the past year.
From Jan. 6: New Year ushers in Salem’s first snow
Shawn Nowlin, Former editor
Just like that, the first snow of 2022 has come and go.
After a weekend of temperatures around the mid-60s, Salem got its first snow of the year on Monday. The heaviest portion came down in the early hours as rain changed to flakes. Some temperatures throughout the Roanoke Valley reached the low 20s and residents, if possible, were asked to stay off the roads.
Many school districts, including the City of Salem, closed or announced delays on Sunday evening. A two-hour school delay was implemented on Tuesday. Since classes were canceled on January 3, Shannon Walker, 17, decided to build a miniature snowman with her father in front of their house.
“Before walking out of the door, I looked at the Weather Channel app on my Android to see how much time we had. A few people walked past us and asked if they could join us. We took some pictures and shared it on social media,” Walker said.
Never one to turn down a snowball fight, Kayla Harris woke her youngest brother up and told him to come outside for the sole purpose of hitting him in the face with some snow. “My plan was executed to perfection. I said that mom wanted him to take out the trash. When he wasn’t looking, I got him so good,” Harris said.
Cold temperatures and snow create slippery streets. Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) vehicles were on the roads early Monday morning to use materials like sodium chloride to both remove snow and improve vehicle traction. Said one official, “For ice control and snow, salt is the most plentiful and inexpensive de-icer because it is distilled from seawater. Salt is effective to temperatures of about 28 degrees and above.”
It usually takes about an hour for each plow to complete its course. Road conditions started to clear around 1:30 p.m.
Approximately 29 million people were under winter alerts Monday morning throughout the east coast. Roanoke County resident Ryan Andrews says he and his family were without power for a few hours. “I knew that it wouldn’t last long so I didn’t overreact when it happened. Everyone that I checked on was okay so that’s all that really matters,” Andrews said.
This will likely not be Salem’s only snow this month. According to weather.com, snow showers are expected on Tuesday, January 18.
From Feb. 24: VDOT names Blevins as new Salem resident engineer
Brian Blevins, P.E, has accepted the position of resident engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Salem Residency office.
Blevins will serve as VDOT’s top transportation official for Roanoke, Botetourt and Craig counties by overseeing road maintenance and operations, land development programs, budgets and business operations. He also will be the primary human resources manager for approximately 130 VDOT employees.
“I look forward to continuing to work with our citizens in my new role to address their transportation needs in their communities,” said Brian.
Blevins began his career with VDOT in 2005 and has held several positions, including transportation engineer in the Location and Design Division and land development engineer and area land use engineer in the Salem Residency office. Since 2016, Blevins has served as an assistant resident engineer in the Salem Residency office.
Before working at VDOT, Blevins was a consulting engineer for six years and served as a lead designer and project manager for Pentree Inc. in Princeton, West Virginia. Blevins worked on several sections of the Coalfields Expressway and one section of the King Coal Highway in West Virginia.
Blevins received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology from Bluefield State College. He is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia and West Virginia.
“Brian is an accomplished engineer and thoughtful leader, and his previous experience in working with local governments and in different roles at VDOT have positioned him well to take on this new role,” said Salem District Engineer Ken King.
-Submitted by Jason Bond, VDOT communications manager
From March 17: Nationwide search leads to hiring of Tommy Miller as director of economic development
Tommy Miller has been named Director of Economic Development for the City of Salem, effective April 18. Miller was selected after a nationwide search identified him as a top candidate for the vacant post.
“We are excited to attract a candidate of Tommy’s caliber to Salem,” said Jay Taliaferro, Salem City Manager. “He has a great skill set and work-related experiences on many different levels. Plus, he has the enthusiasm needed to enhance Salem’s business and industry-friendly reputation.”
Miller comes to Salem after spending the past five years as a Senior Business Investment Manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. In this position, he was able to manage and lead various projects while cultivating relationships with individuals in state agencies, educational settings, existing businesses, and local communities.
“I have a strong appreciation for the presence of manufacturers in the City of Salem and the resilient work ethic of the community,” said Miller. “I am very aware of the growing and evolving high tech and service sectors in the region, and I am continually impressed with the thriving vibrancy throughout Salem and the Roanoke Valley.”
“Tommy has been a key economic development ally to the Roanoke Region in his roles with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and I am excited to have him join the team of local economic developers in our region,” said John Hull, Executive Director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “Tommy has a commanding knowledge in the field of economic development and a familiarity with the region that will be a tremendous asset in his service to the City of Salem.”
Before joining VDEP in the summer of 2017, Miller served as the Economic Development Director in Orange County. During that time, he managed 10 existing and new business development projects that resulted in nearly 600 jobs and over $37 million in new capital investment in Orange County.
“I’ve intentionally guided my career for new experiences related to all levels of economic development ranging from rural to suburban, local to state, existing business outreach to business attraction,” said Miller. “All of these experiences have helped open my network and expand my knowledge of how to provide the best resources and services.”
Miller earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. His undergraduate degree is in Real Estate and Urban Land Development while his advanced degree is in Urban and Regional Planning. He also has his Certified Economic Development credential. He has worked as both a Marketing Analyst and Existing Business Manager in Hanover County and he spent three years developing new business in the Franklin Southampton County area.
“I have been given the opportunity to work with firms ranging from one person startups to global Fortune 500 companies and industries ranging from life sciences to automotive,” he said. “Now, I really look forward to engaging with my new team members in Salem to see how we can work together to support the health and livelihood of the community.”
Perhaps his most unique business venture was the establishment of the Richmond Brewery Tours. In 2012, he developed a business and marketing plan to highlight Richmond blossoming craft beer industry and spearheaded the venture from 2012-2020.
Any entrepreneurial venture should be both calculated and gut driven,” he said. “I certainly have an entrepreneurial gene in my DNA, and I am always interested in seeing what the next best venture is in the market.”
Miller and his wife, Julie, have two children. The couple also has family members in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and they look forward to enjoying everything this region has to offer.
“I’ve been visiting friends and family in the area for a number of years, and I am continually impressed with the region’s natural resources,” said Miller. “My family and I enjoy the outdoors and you can’t live in this part of the state without an appreciation of the mountains and streams that are visible throughout the countryside.”
-Submitted by Mike Stevens, City of Salem communications director
From April 14: Roanoke College selects Dr. Kathy J. Wolfe as new dean
On the heels of selecting a new president, Roanoke College has selected a new dean of the college.
Roanoke College announced on April 6 that Dr. Kathy J. Wolfe, a champion of integrative and experiential learning, has been named vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college.
Wolfe has 28 years of teaching experience and 12 years in administrative leadership roles, most recently as dean of engaged education at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. She has a broad understanding of higher education, having worked in private and public liberal arts institutions, community colleges and the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Wolfe will assume the dean’s position in July, replacing Dr. Richard Smith, who retired in summer 2021 after 12 years in the position.
Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey said after a rigorous, competitive national search, “Dr. Wolfe emerged as our candidate of choice for the deanship. She stands out in many ways that will enhance Roanoke College, our academic program, and the experience of our students.”
Dr. Frank Shushok Jr., Roanoke College president-elect who will succeed retiring President Maxey in July, said Wolfe’s vision aligns perfectly with Roanoke College’s approach.
“I was struck by Dr. Wolfe’s authentic connection to Roanoke College’s mission, especially our commitment that every student be invited to explore purpose en route to finding meaningful work,” Shushok said. “Dr. Wolfe is student-centered, collaborative, excited about curricular innovation, and eager to partner with our talented faculty to dream forward the next iteration of Roanoke College’s offering to the world. She brings refined leadership skills and experience to Roanoke College and believes wholeheartedly that the education Roanoke College delivers translates into powerful marketplace skills critical for thriving communities.”
Hamilton College President David Wippman praised Wolfe as “a student-centered, liberal-arts focused, mission-driven educator who works tirelessly to ensure that all students have equitable access to the resources and opportunities that will make them successful. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of ALEX [Advise, Learn, Experience initiative], Hamilton’s coordinated advising network for students, and has demonstrated her readiness for this opportunity at Roanoke. We will miss her contributions at Hamilton, but we extend our congratulations to her on this well-deserved appointment.”
At Hamilton College, Wolfe oversaw the ALEX initiative, which seeks to integrate and improve advising, academic support and experiential learning opportunities for students. Prior to that, she served two terms as dean of undergraduate programs and professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University, her alma mater. Between deanships there, she spent a year and a half with the American Association of Colleges and Universities as a senior fellow and interim vice president for integrative liberal learning and the global commons.
Wolfe said she was drawn to the College for a variety of reasons. One is that she wanted to make a difference in the academic curriculum, where she can work with faculty to help integrate liberal arts study and career exploration.
“What drew me to Roanoke College was the college’s willingness to embrace thoughtful change while maintaining a firm commitment to high-quality, affordable and equitable liberal arts education,” Wolfe said. “I’m excited about the partnership with President-elect Frank Shushok, and eager to get to know the community and collaborate with the faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni, the board and others to develop creative new programs. We will connect with the local community and articulate the value of the liberal arts.”
Wolfe, who was a first-generation college student, holds a B.A. in English from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in English from Texas Christian University. She is a member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Conference of Academic Deans, the National Academic Advising Association and the National Council of Teachers of English/College Composition and Communication.
Roanoke College, located in Salem, Virginia, offers an innovative core curriculum and majors that allow for depth of study and research. Roanoke College encourages students to believe in themselves and their potential. Students participate in internships, creative projects, community service, and study away endeavors that help them find their purpose in life. The Roanoke College experience is a full one, only enhanced by its setting minutes away from a vibrant city and the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
– Submitted by Roanoke College News
From May 25: City Council: Salem car owners may get rebate after July 1
Meg Hibbert, Contributing writer
Salem car owners could get money back on their personal property taxes after July 1. In a work session Monday night, Salem City Council members spent 30 minutes talking about the best way to set up what amounts to a rebate.
Council directed City Manager Jay Taliaferro to work with the Commissioner of the Revenue to set up a system that could mean a return to all car owners, with funds coming from federal COVID money the city is scheduled to receive.
The amount could be 50 percent was Council’s consensus. Car owners , should still go ahead and pay personal property taxes, it was brought out in discussions with Counsel Michael Lockabee, because the change would not take place until after July 1 and personal property tax is due May 31.
It would be a one-time rebate and only on cars, not motorcycles or company-owned cars, Councilman Bill Jones emphasized.
Councilman Randy Foley noted “We’re in this predicament because we have free money,” referring to figuring out how to give citizens some tax relief.
In the regular session Monday night, Council recognized Van Gresham for his 46 years of service on the Board of Zoning Appeals of which he is still an active member.
Mayor Renee Turk read a proclamation on Gresham’s accomplishents, including being a staunch supporter of the Salem Sports Foundation since 1977. She pointed out his father was one of the foundation’s founding members.
“Van is the epitome of a true Salemite,” she said.
Council heard from two citizens in the public hearing on setting the real estate tax rate for Fiscal Year 2022-23. The rate remains the same at $1.20 per $100 of assessed value.
Robert Andrews encouraged Council to lower the rate in the long run. “Any tax burden is going to come at the pain of the citizens,” Andrews said.
Jim Soderburg agreed with Andrews, pointing out that taxes have more impact on people with fixed incomes. “The increase in Social Security has been eaten up by one car,” he said.
It was a busy night for Council, that included approving 16 items including:
- Tax rates on real estate, tangible property, machinery and tools;
- Electric Rate Tariffs;
- The Book of Rates;
- Miscellaneous fees;
- Job classes and pay rates;
- The Salem School Division’s budget for the next school year;
- Appropriation of funds to the Virginia Risk Sharing Association grant;
- Appropriation grant funds awarded by the Virginia tourism Corporation, and
- Fiscal Agent agreements with Court-Community Corrections and Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy.
Council heard from two citizens, Patricia Clark and John Breen, during the Citizen Comment period at the start of the meeting.
Clark urged Council to do something to clean up car lots, especially one across from her Maple Street home. Vice Mayor Jim Wallace noted he believes that particular one is designated a salvage yard, not a car lot. He said perhaps it could be screened.
Breen asked Council to give citizens more response instead of only listening during the comment period. He suggested neighborhood round tables, crowd scoping and submitting questions for citizen opinions on the November ballot.
In rezoning matters, Council voted 4-1 with Wallace dissenting to change zoning from Highway Business District with condition to HBD with amended conditions to allow retail sales. The property is Ridgewood Gardens shopping center, where a vendor wants to open a vaping and tobacco shop. This was the second reading.
Council meeting lasted 67 minutes, adjourning at 7:37.
From June 30: Council recognizes forensics state champs, track star
Meg Hibbert, Contributing writer
Members of Salem High School’s Forensics Team and a sophomore track star who excelled nationally were recognized for their excellence during Monday night’s Salem City Council meeting.
Forensics Head Coach Mark Ingerson and seven members of the 12 on the team attended the Council meeting and were applauded for the 16th consecutive win in March. Mayor Renee Turk noted this was a new state record.
Council also passed a resolution commending SHS track star Peyton Lewis and sprinters coach Darryl McCoy. Lewis posted the fourth fastest time in the nation for a sophomore, and set both indoor and outdoor state track records.
He won the 2022 Virginia High School League State Title in the 55 meter dash in the Indoor Track Championships and the 100 meter dash in the Outdoor Track Championship.
Lewis posed for a picture with his coach, Council members and mother Sara Lewis, while proud dad Preston Lewis took photographs.
Forensics team members included Captain Julia Vaughn, Captain Nash Lakin, Graham Roudebush, Taylor Barenbaum, Ben Hathaway, Connor Smythers, Ryan Long, Ruby Spence, Kyra Netting, Grasyn Mitchell, Emma Snead, Lebron Parsell, Charlie Bain, Colton Easter, Zac Hathaway, Mary Martha Blackwell, Paige Netting, Inessa Everett, Rebekah Steinweg, Quinn Roudebush and Madison Church.
The resolution unanimously passed by Council praised the team for bringing “recognition, honor and pride to Salem High School and the City of Salem.”
SHS’s team won this year’s state title with a 34-15 victory over second-place John Handley High School.
In other matters before Council Monday night, two citizens spoke on items that concern them.
- Shirley Converti urged Council to protect youth from the dangers of vaping by limiting vape stores;
- John Breen asked Council to develop a plan to address non-conforming uses. He mentioned unscreened junk, dilapidated large homes on Union Street and junked cars outside businesses.
In other actions: Council appropriated $15 million from the sale of bonds for Moyer Sports Complex renovations, and $79,400 for issuance costs. The sale of bonds was previously approved by Council in February.
Council appropriated $450,707 to connect the existing Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail to East Main Street along Kesler Mill Road. The city received the money from VDOT, and provided a local match of $112,676.
Council also approved:
- A $43,395 for erosion, sediment control and landscaping bond for Kanawha Stone, and set completion date for 12 months;
- A bond of $45,181for erosion and sediment control for Craghead Lawson Storm Sewer Construction on High Street, with a time limit of 12 months;
- A $20,284 for erosion, sediment control and landscaping bond for Layman Distributing Co. where it is moving warehouse operations to 2157 Apperson Drive, the site of a former Food Lion.
Council appropriated a fund balance of $689,500 to allow work to proceed on improvements from East Main Street, Union Street and Broad Street. Finance Director Rosie Jordan explained the project would improve crosswalks, lighting and streetscaping. $500,000 of the project came from Virginia Department of Transportation funds, with a revenue match.
All five Council members were present. The meeting that began a 6:30 p.m. ended at 7:06 p.m.
From July 21: Retired Sheriff Obenshain passes at 82
Alexander Shedd, Former editor
Retired City of Salem Sheriff Everett Obenshain Jr., who served in the position for more than 30 years, passed away on July 14, 2022. He was 82.
Obenshain was first elected to the position of City Sergeant in 1969, before the Code of Virginia was amended in 1971 to create the Office of Sheriff instead. Prior to his election, he was a patrolman with the City of Salem from 1966-1969. After his tenure as sheriff, Obenshain continued to serve his city as a member of the Electoral Board for 19 years.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share Retired Sheriff Everette Obenshain passed away yesterday morning, July 14, 2022,” the City of Salem Sheriff’s Department shared on Facebook. “The City of Salem Sheriff’s Office sends our deepest sympathies to Sheriff Obenshain’s family with prayers for peace and comfort during this difficult time.”
Obenshain’s cause of death has not been made public as of presstime. Roanoke’s Lotz Funeral Home has stated that a full obituary for Sheriff Obenshain is forthcoming.
From Aug. 11: Man dies after setting self on fire in park
Alexander Shedd, Former editor
A man who reportedly doused himself with a flammable liquid and lit himself on fire in Lake Spring Park on Sunday, August 7 died in the hospital from his injuries later that night.
The man, whose name has not been released by the City of Salem, was acting normal, smiling and greeting those around him in the sunny afternoon before covering himself with the fluid, kept in inconspicuous energy drink bottles.
“When we walked by him, he smiled at my kids and said that they were beautiful. So we said thank you and smiled back,” eyewitness Kelseigh Meador told the Roanoke Times. Kelseigh was one of three individuals at the park at the time who attempted to put the flames out and call emergency services.
Getting ready to leave the park, Meador had just put her children in her car when she looked back over at the man, who yelled something before going up in flames. “I screamed,” said Meador. She immediately ran to help the man along with a married couple.
“The lady jumped over the gate of the pond and was getting water while I was pouring water bottles from my car on him,” Meador said. “The husband ran to the store to grab a fire extinguisher.”
Salem emergency services responded to the call at 1:07 p.m. The man was quickly rushed to Roanoke Carilion Memorial Hospital, where he later perished from his injuries.
Salem Communications Director Mike Stevens said of the tragic scene, “While this is a very sad and unfortunate incident, we do not anticipate any charges to result from it. It remains under investigation.” The City of Salem has since stated that they have nothing further to report on the incident.
While little is known about what happened to the victim or what led him to this, the possibility of suicide seems likely. Suicide awareness and prevention resources are available to citizens of Salem through the LewisGale Center for Behavioral Health on Braeburn Drive, as well as through the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center for veterans.
Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline now has a 3-digit emergency number for crises, 988. If you or a loved one are suffering from depression or suicidal ideations, contact these resources today.
From Sept. 1: 3,640 students return to Salem Schools
Meg Hibbert, Contributing writer
More than 3,600 students returned to school in Salem Monday, with smiles, new notebooks, backpacks and excitement over a new year.
“We had a very smooth opening, especially when you consider the effort that went into Salem High ready to open after construction,” said new Salem Schools Superintendent Curtis Hicks, after his first opening day as superintendent.
“There are always a handful of transportation delays on the first week of
school,” Hicks continued, “but we did not experience anything out of the ordinary. All in all, it was a great start to Salem’s 40th year as an independent school
Before that, Salem Schools were part of Roanoke County’s education system.
Hicks noted this was the first “normal” school year for rising ninth graders since they were in fifth grade, because of COVID 19.
As at Salem’s other three elementary schools, SHS and Andrew Lewis Middle School, students started arriving early at G.W. Carver Elementary at 7:20, getting off buses and out of parents’ and grandparents’ cars.
Teachers were outside to meet them, in front of a grassy area filled with welcome back posters created by Fellowship Church members for teachers.
“Monday was a fabulous day at Carver,” said Principal Kristyn Schmidt. “I love seeing all the smiling faces on students and teachers. Several students told me the summer was too long and they were so glad to be back at school,” she added.
West Salem Elementary Principal Amanda Gibson was similarly excited about the first day.
“Our faculty, staff, students and families made our 70th school opening memorable for sure. It was great to see so many smiling faces eager to start school today, and we are looking forward to having a wonderful school year together,” Gibson said.
Salem High School was open as an almost-new school, with a completely redone front area and lockers, ventilation system and roof.
Construction started before the end of last school year.
Superintendent Hicks pointed out that the unusually hot weather presented some heating, ventilation and air conditioning issues Monday, “but we were able to get those resolved and eventually get SHS and the middle school cooled properly.”
Salem has six schools. In addition to Carver and West Salem elementary schools, they are South Salem and East Salem, the high school and middle school.
Roanoke County Public Schools started classes Aug. 11. Those in the Salem area are Fort Lewis Elementary, Glenvar Elementary, Glenvar Middle School, Glenvar High School, Masons Cove Elementary and Burton Center for Arts & Technology, across the street from East Salem Elementary.
Salem and Roanoke County schools will be closed for Labor Day Monday, Sept. 5.
From Oct. 13: Salem Volunteer Rescue Squad celebrates 90th anniversary
Aila Boyd, Executive editor
Members of the Salem Volunteer Rescue Squad celebrated the squad’s 90th anniversary Saturday with a luncheon at Hidden Valley Country Club’s 49 Lounge.
“It was very nice,” Mike Moore, senior member, said. “Everybody had a good time. We enjoyed catching up.”
The squad was organized Nov. 15, 1932. Originally called the Salem Life Saving Crew, it was modeled after the Roanoke Life Saving & First Aid Crew that was organized in 1928.
“Their many years of service shows a true dedication to the citizens of Salem,” Moore said of the life members of the squad.
Moore has been part of the squad for 41 years. He initially joined because he had some friends who were involved in volunteer fire and rescue work in Covington, where he was born and raised. When he moved to Salem, he needed something to do because of his work schedule. He was sitting around the house a lot but wanted to get involved in an extracurricular activity. “I got into an EMT class and from there it’s history,” he said. At the time, it was required that all members lived within the city limits.
He described the work that the members do as being “the right thing to do. It’s part of being a part of the community.” He added, “It’s something we enjoy doing. We feel like we can help our fellow citizens. It sort of gets in your blood.”
Currently, the squad has roughly 20 members. Those who volunteer at the squad come from all walks of life.
“With 20 people, we’re struggling,” he said.
When Moore first joined, there were 61 members. “Volunteer rescue squads are going by the wayside every day,” he noted. “People don’t have the time. It’s hard to get your certification now. It’s gotten costly.”
He said it costs around $1,000 to take a certification class. Most who take the time to get the certification nowadays decide to pursue a career path instead of the volunteer route.
For those who are interested in volunteering, they should call the squad’s part-time secretary at 540-375-3001.
In looking ahead, Moore said he is optimistic about the future of the squad. The squad had a booth during Olde Salem Days. “Even though the weather was bad, we picked up 10 applications that day,” he said. “I’m tickled to death with that.”
The squad covers a number of events and public gatherings. January through October, the squad covered 48 events in the city.
“We’re covering three nights a week now. We’d like to cover seven nights from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” he said.
From Nov. 10: Ground zero flag used in Salem
A flag that few over ground zero in New York on Nov. 2, 2001 and has been on three tours in Iraq flew at Salem Fire-EMS Station 1 in Salem where the 9/11 monument is for a couple of hours Wednesday, Nov. 2. The flag came to Salem as part of a ceremony that was attended by local first responders.
The 3-foot by 5-foot flag flew in Salem exactly 22 years after it flew over ground zero. It was signed by some of the workers who were at ground zero when it was flown there. To avoid damaging the flag, it is handled with gloves.
A moment of silence was held before the flag was flown. Those in attendance signed a book that travels with the flag.
The flag was brought to Salem by the “Ground Zero Flag Team.”
The flag, which travels with a cross fashioned out of marble recovered from what is believed to have been the lobby of the South Tower, has been flown over the Pentagon, on U.S. Navy warships like the USS Harry S. Truman and USS John Warner and on installations like Fort Bragg and Fort Dix.
The purpose of the remembrance/tribute ceremonies like the one that took place in Salem is focused on “remembering 9/11 victims and survivors; paying tribute to the U.S. military battling the Global War on Terror; honoring the first responders who serve their communities and to also assure all of their families that we will ‘never forget’ the sacrifices their loved ones have made and continue to make for this great nation.”
The “GZ Flag Team” will likely be retired on the 25th anniversary of when the flag last flew over the rubble of the World Trade Center, which will be Nov. 2, 2026.
From Dec. 12: Hoffman recognized for covering three generations of athletes
Meg Hibbert, Contributing writer
The man who has written about and photographed three generations of Salem and Glenvar athletes was recognized with a “Salem Salutes” award by Salem City Council Monday night.
Brian “Hoop” Hoffman, sports editor of the Salem Times-Register and other newspapers in the Mountain Media weekly chain, has been writing about local athletes, coaches and teams since graduating from Roanoke College in 1974.
As Mayor Renee Turk said when presenting the award, “He has done more for City of Salem athletes than any other person.”
Hoffman is a Philadelphia native who is in the Salem Sports Hall of Fame and active in other sports organizations. Turk noted he has spent “countless hours highlighting sports in the area.”
Taking the podium after getting the award, Hoffman said, “I am very lucky to have found this place,” meaning Salem. “I went to Roanoke College and ‘did enough to get by,’ left for two months and came back.
“If you want a good place to live and raise your kids, I can’t think of anywhere better than Salem,” he said.
Councilman Bill Jones presented Hoffman with an award of his own, a statue of the Philadelphia Eagles mascot, “Swoop.” The Eagles are Hoffman’s favorite team.
Hoffman pointed out he had covered two of the Councilmembers, Randy Foley and Jones, when they played sports, “before today’s Salem High School even opened.”
Jones mentioned he was in 10th grade when he first met Hoffman.
In other matters at the meeting, Council:
- Heard from John Breen during the Citizen Comment portion. He said Council needs to do more to address non-conforming signs, discarded tires and asked for a 100-tire limit, and exterior storage buildings. “Salem is treading water,” Breen said;
- Approved on second reading a change to local law to be in line with the state, regarding payment of personal property taxes and motor vehicle license fees;
- Approved after a public hearing at which no one spoke an amendment to the current budget to appropriate American Rescue Plan Act funding;
- Accepted the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the year ending June 30, 2022, as presented by John Aldridge of Brown Edwards; Vice Mayor Jim Wallace noted “We are fortunate to have so much capital to work with because of the Councils before us”;
- Appropriated $23,687 from the Library of Virginia that will be used to increase the number of books and other materials;
- Amended the School Grants Fund and School Cafeteria Fund budgets by $17,402 and $66,374, respectively;
- Amended the School Grants Fund Budget to clean up an error in the spread sheet, according to the vice mayor;
- Set $21,707 bond for erosion, sediment control and landscaping for Layman-Apperson fill site on Apperson Drive;
- Adopted a Resolution adopting a Legislative Program for the 2023 session of the Virginia General Assembly and petitioning the General Assembly to consider favorable issues and topics addressed in the resolution;
- Adopted a resolution authorizing the City Attorney to take necessary steps to obtain a “Certificate of No Objection” to change polling places for the West Salem and Beverly Heights precincts to the Salem Civic Center where all the other precincts vote.
The final Salem City Council meeting for the calendar year adjourned at 7:01 p.m.