Hero recognized by Pulaski Town Council

Pulaski Town Council on Tuesday saluted several citizens including a local hero; heard a presentation on tourism and learned a grant program using CARES Act funds is on its way to benefit non-profits in the town.

According to a council resolution honoring her, Olivia Hale was driving to her parents’ home the morning of July 5 when she saw smoke coming from the vicinity of Peppers Ferry Road. Upon investigating she found a house fire in progress at 918 Mashburn Avenue.

Hale assisted the elderly couple in the home to escape and get away from the dwelling.

Responding to the concern the elderly woman had for the welfare of her two dogs, Hale moved the residents to safety and successfully located the two pets who had fled the home and placed them in the safety of her own vehicle.

Hale then advised first responders upon their arrival that there were oxygen tanks in the residence. She then continued to care for the two elderly residents until their son and rescue personnel arrived.

Council also recognized Mike McManus for his 29 years of service to the town. McManus retired May 1.

McManus began his career with the town in 1991 as Assistant Park Manager for Gatewood. Two years later he became Park Manager – a position he held until his retirement.

Council also recognized two former members – David Clark and Joseph Goodman – for their years of service to the town.

Clark previously served as a councilman from 2006 until 2018 when he was elected mayor. He served as mayor until 2020. Goodman served as a councilman from 2016 to 2020.

Interim Town Manager Darlene Burcham reported to council that 15 applications for the town’s Small Business Recovery Grants had so far been approved with a number of others still in process. She said half of the CARES Act money set aside for the grants has been used.

Burcham said the town will continue to receive applications for the small business recovery grants, and she anticipates Pulaski County to provide additional CARES Act funds to the town.

Because of that, she said, the town will soon roll out a recovery grant program for non-profits in the town as did Pulaski County earlier.

Pulaski County received nearly $3 million in Federal CARES Act funds, and sent over $625,000 to the towns of Pulaski and Dublin.

Burcham also announced that the town’s Social Media Manager, Jordan Whitt would be leaving town government in the next two weeks to accept a position in the private sector.

During the public comment period, Goodman and David Allen both spoke about previous comments by council concerning employees of local businesses parking on Main Street.

The comments were made recently during discussion on West Main Street LLC’s plans for renovating the old McCrory’s and pawn shop property on Main Street.

Both Goodman and Allen said there are no parking issues on East Main Street where they work.

“We don’t have any parking issues on East Main Street. There’s plenty of parking available for businesses there,” said Goodman.

Goodman said council is “regulating a problem that doesn’t exit,” and asked council to “stay out of it and work on West Main.”

Allen agreed, noting there had been a parking issue before, “but not now.”

In her presentation on tourism, Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Peggy White defined tourism as our assets, such as Claytor Lake and our trails as well as our creative economy … artisans, musicians, etc.

“People come here to enjoy our everyday lifestyles,” said White. “People pay to come here and to get away.”

White said the economic impact of tourism in Virginia has grown from $1.3 billion in 1969 to $26 billion in 2018 – creating over 234,000 jobs.

She noted that from 2014 to 2018, Pulaski County had realized a 2.8 percent increase in state tax receipts and a 1.7 percent increase in local tax receipts.

“Tourism provides jobs, revenue, reputable image, community culture and more,” White said.

White reviewed the chamber’s past successes in boosting tourism in the county leading to this summer’s “Staycation” effort, which promotes Pulaski County as a place for locals to enjoy a safe vacation here rather than traveling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Future plans include installing “gateway” signs at Draper and Claytor Lake off the interstate, introducing a condensed visitor’s guide for the county, promoting fall scenery here and a “shop local” effort all across the county in November.

White also invited the town to join with other New River Valley localities in a valley-wide effort to promote tourism in the NRV.

Noting she wants to see this area rise to being one of the top 15 tourism destinations in the state, White said Pulaski County can’t do it alone.

“But we can if we work collectively as the New River Valley,” she said.

“We want the town to be a part of this NRV tourism campaign. We’re asking for you to partner with the rest of the valley. We’re not looking for a financial commitment now. We’re looking at a roll-out next spring,” White told council.

White mentioned to council two events that are coming up locally, including a “Battle of the Bridge” golf tournament and a drive-through Treat Trail with pumpkin carving contest.