Bob Rotanz came to Roanoke College more than 45 years ago as a student and stayed. Since then he and a friend founded the anchor eating place on East Main Street, Mac and Bob’s Restaurant, started lacrosse at Salem High School and gave more donations to charities and people in need than can be counted.
Monday night, members of Salem City Council gave back to Rotanz with its “Salem Salutes” award.
City Manager Jay Taliaferro said this about Rotanz: “We’re so lucky that he came to this community and decided to stay here. He gives of his time and gives of himself, and he just does so many things to help others.”
He opened Mac and Bob’s in 1980 and has expanded three times.
Bob graduated from Roanoke College in 1978 after leading the Maroons to a National Championship in Men’s Lacrosse. The three-time All-American scored the winning goal in the title game and soon after began building a championship legacy in Salem by serving others.
In the Council proclamation she read, Mayor Renee Turk noted “When it snows in Salem, you can bet the snowplow operators will always have hot pizza and subs from Mac and Bob’s waiting when they return to the Street Department.”
The proclamation pointed out Rotanz’ service to others will be remembered and cherished far longer than any menu items. The annual Mac and Bob’s Golf Tournament has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Down Syndrome families in the valley.”
Rotanz was inducted into the Roanoke College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. Later this year, he will become only the third lacrosse player in the 50-year history of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame to be inducted into the statewide organization when he is enshrined in Virginia Beach.
The proclamation went on: “While there is no way to put a value on his overall contributions to the city, we can all agree that East Main Street would be a completely different place without Mac and Bob’s, and Salem would be a much different city without Bob’s service to others.”
When he accepted the award and posed for photos with his wife, Wendy, by his side, Rotanz said “The best thing I ever did was to stay in town.”
In other matters at the Jan. 23 meeting, Council:
- Held a public hearing on first reading to rezone property owned by the City of Salem at 1900 Mill Lane from Agriculture District to Light Manufacturing. No one spoke. The motion carried, 4-0-1, with Councilman Bill Jones abstaining because he had an interest in nearby property. The agenda noted there are no immediate plans for the property;
- Held a public hearing on first reading to rezone property owned by Charles Dorsey at 1900 Mill Lane from Agriculture and Residential Single Family District, to Residential Single Family.
No one spoke. The motion carried 4-0-1, with Jones abstaining. The agenda noted there are no immediate plans for the property;
In the work session immediately before the regular meeting, Council heard an update by Planning and Zoning Administrator Mary Ellen Wines on three items staff have been working on.
- Hotel stay changes – Specifically where some stay for weeks and months instead of short term. Salem Police Chief Michael Crawley said in the last four years his department saw and increase in criminal activity at some hotels. “These are not travelers,” he pointed out, but people who use lower price hotels as their residences. Wines said staff is considering presenting law changes that enforce no stays longer than 29 days in one 60-day period, with exceptions for contractor personnel, placement because of house fires and similar reasons;
- A continuing discussion on storage of rimless tires;
- Free-standing storage buildings.
Wines said staff will bring proposed ordinance changes to Council at a later meeting.
In a final matter, Council held a 20-minuted closed session to discuss city-owned property. There was no action when Councilmembers returned to open session. The meeting adjourned at 7:06.