State of the County Address answers most, but not all, questions

Shawn Nowlin

Chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Phil North addressing all in attendance at the Tanglewood Holiday-Inn.

The Annual State of Roanoke County Address was held on November 20 at the Tanglewood Holiday-Inn. Free to the public, over 300 area residents gathered to hear County Board of Supervisors Phil North give the address. North began his discourse by acknowledging his four colleagues on the Board of Supervisors: Vice-Chair Martha Hooker. George Assaid, Jason Peters and David Radford.

“I would also like to extend a welcome to Paul Mahoney. Thanks to each of you for your leadership, your engagement and your commitment to the citizens of Roanoke County,” North said. “I’m also pleased to recognize Roanoke County’s elected constitutional officers: Commissioner of the Revenue Nancy Horn, Treasurer Kevin Hutchins, Circuit Court Clerk Steve McGraw and Sheriff Eric Orange. I also want to congratulate our newly elected Commonwealth’s Attorney, Brian Holohan.”

During his speech, North spoke with contentment about the county’s 2.2 percent unemployment rate, transportation improvements and expanding broadband internet access throughout the county. He also emphasized that his top priority will be attracting and keeping new residents in Roanoke County.

“We continue on our path of exploring the future and its possibilities. Our strategy includes recruiting new businesses and supporting existing ones, encouraging growth in the innovation economy, supporting our schools to create successful students and attracting young professionals to our region,” North said. “Weldon Cooper projects that in 10 years our county will see a 3.3 percent increase in population, or approximately 3,100 more citizens. This signifies a positive direction going forward and will lead to a stronger overall economy.”

Don Butzer, Chairman of the Roanoke County School Board, speaking about the county’s accomplishments over the last 12 months.

North invited Roanoke County School Board Chairman Don Butzer on stage to address all in attendance. In July 2016, Butzer was appointed to the Roanoke County School Board. A resident of Catawba for the last 14 years, Butzer’s wife, Katrina, teaches mathematics at Glenvar Middle School.

“Roanoke County Public Schools is part of the new ‘Virginia is for Learners Innovation Network’ where we are working with the Virginia Department of Education, James Madison University and the Virginia School Consortium for Learning to develop a statewide innovation network that promotes implementation of deeper learning, expanded school equity and increased learning engagement strategies,” Butzer said.

Salem native Steve Johnson attended the State of the County Address. Many, such as Johnson, believe there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the direction Roanoke County is moving. “There has been plenty of changes over the last decade, but I like the current trajectory,” he said. “The event did leave me with a few unanswered questions. I believe that if we all do our part, we can help Roanoke County reach its full potential.”

Roanoke County’s strong bond ratings are a direct result of adequate financial management practices, according to North. “We have comparatively low debt and have had a stable real estate tax rate for 13 straight years. And for the last two years, we have reduced the business license tax as well,” he said. “This responsible stewardship has allowed us to continue meeting the educational needs of our children. Sound policies are in place to support both the operations and capital needs of our school system.”

To view the entire State of the County Address, visit