“Chef T” proclaimed county’s official chef

Chef T honored
County Administrator Jonathan Sweet (left) and Supervisors Chairman Joe Guthrie present “Chef T” with a framed copy of a resolution the board passed Monday night recognizing her as Pulaski County’s official chef. (Mike Williams/The Patriot)



Pulaski County now has its first “official” chef following passage Monday evening by the Board of Supervisors of a resolution honoring Chef Torrece “T” Gregoire.

The resolution states that “Chef T,” as she’s commonly known grew up in the Bronx of New York. She attended the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, and later appeared as a contestant on the popular “Hell’s Kitchen” television show with Gordon Ramsey.

She finished Season 14 as the runner-up and returned to the show for Season 18 as an experienced veteran, where the resolution states she put on full display not only her culinary genius, but her innate leadership skills and competitive nature.

“Chef T serendipitously discovered Pulaski County and Pulaski County subsequently discovered Chef T, by way of the Draper Mercantile, where she first began sharing her cooking talents and larger-than-life personality with our citizens and has since been a part of several successful ventures throughout the county.

“Chef T has directly participated in and contributed robustly to the county’s economic development program as a member of the county’s Prospect Visitation Team as an international ambassador of our community and as a friend to developing and sustainably growing Pulaski County and the New River Valley,” the resolution states.


Burcham Recognized

During Monday’s meeting of the board, County Administrator Jonathan Sweet also recognized Pulaski Town Manager Darlene Burcham for the recognition she received recently.

Burcham was recognized by the International City/County Management Association for her 50 years of public service.

Burcham was highlighted this month in Public Management (PM) Magazine.

According to the article, Burcham has served her entire career in Virginia. Since July 2020 she has served Pulaski, first as interim town manager and now as town manager.

Before that she was in Clifton Forge as interim town manager (2010) and town manager from 2010-2020; in Roanoke as city manager (2000-2010); and in Norfolk as human services director (1987-1989); assistant city manager (1989-1994); and deputy city manager (1995-2000).

Early in her career, she was assistant county administrator in James City County (1979-1987) and director of Social Services in Hampton (1971-1979).

Sweet said Burcham’s working for 50 years in public service, “Is just mind boggling to me.”


Nighttime Paving Complaint

A resident of the lower end of Belspring Road, which shoots off Lee Highway (Route 11) in Fairlawn and provides motorists a shortcut to travel to Peppers Ferry Road (Route 114) complained about the recent paving work on the road.

She noted that state highway department crews had been on the road paving at night. She said they worked Sunday night from about 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.

She told supervisors that on a recent night she and others along the roadway were awakened by the sound of a jack hammer being used by workers.

She said work on the roadway in her area is now complete, but she hopes by speaking out to keep people in other neighborhoods from having to endure the same noise at nighttime.

She wondered why the street couldn’t have been closed off for the work to be done during the day. She also complained about the amount of traffic on the street and speeding by many motorists.

David Clarke, VDOT Residency Administrator for the Salem District told her she was “completely right,” and the work shouldn’t have been done at night and he apologized for the disturbance.

Board Chairman Joe Guthrie noted that funding for a VDOT Smart Scale project for the Route 11 -114 area has now been funded that will likely address many of problems on Belspring Road.


Rough Stretch for Law Enforcement

Commonwealth’s Attorney Justin Griffith told the board that law enforcement in the county is going through a “rough stretch” right now.

He noted that about three weeks ago, retired Pulaski Police officer John Leeper passed away. Then he said about a week and a half ago another retired police officer, Mike Jones died.

He told the board that he had learned earlier in the day retired State Trooper Austin Hall had passed away.

Griffith said he spoke with Hall some time ago concerning the potential parole of Stephen Epperly, the convicted killer of Gena Hall.

He said Hall had gone to Richmond with him to speak at the parole hearing for Epperly.

“It was an honor to sit between Hall and Everett Shockley,” Griffith said about the parole hearing.

He praised Hall for helping to keep Epperly behind bars and for continuing to be an advocate for justice in that case.

Griffith said he was “devastated” to hear about Hall’s passing.

“He was a great man, and this is a big loss to the county,” Griffith said.

Sweet suggested to Board Chairman Joe Guthrie that the board and audience observe a moment of sadness in tribute to Hall.


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