|C.F. Council Names Chuck Unroe As Town Manager|
Accepts Mohler Resignation
|Clifton Forge, Va (Nov. 10, 2020) - =In a surprise move Tuesday night, Clifton Forge Town Council voted 3-2 to hire Iron Gate Mayor Chuck Unroe as the new town manager, following a closed session to accept the resignation of current Town Manager Reba Mohler. Casting the dissenting votes were council members Ron Goings and David Oeltjen. (Both Goings and Oeltjen earlier favored examining some potential candidates from the Virginia Municipal League, but that idea failed by a 302 vote.)|
Council member Dave Oeltjen, who lost his bid for re-election in last Tuesday’s general election, said that Mohler had sent the letter to him and fellow council member Ron Goings. Mayor Jeff Irvine, who won re-election, and Carl “Shorty” Wolfe, were the two highest vote-getters.
According to the letter Oeltjen read during the monthly meeting held via teleconference, Mohler said she was told within three days of her taking office that if the November election went a certain way, she could not be assured of a job. She said that she felt it was unfair for her to be used as a political pawn, and decided to seek more stable employment elsewhere.
Oeltjen said he had asked Mohler who told her that, and she named council member Bob Umstead and Mayor Irvine.
Neither Irvine nor Umstead specifically addressed those allegations, although Mayor Irvine did say that he had tried to talk Mohler out of leaving, and that he appreciated her service to the town.
Goings read a prepared statement, saying that he had been unaware of Mohler’s concerns about her job being threatened. He said he felt those fears had been unfounded and were based on gossip. He said he felt that the town had lost a good person in the process and he wished that Mohler had come to him with her concerns.
Goings also said he was very concerned about the divisiveness plaguing the town, and lamented the image that it sends. “We have a lot of complex problems,” he said. “We’re losing population for a reason.”
He talked about a slogan that was created for Clifton Forge many years ago: “Scenic, Busy, Friendly.” It’s still scenic, he said, but no longer busy or friendly.
Vice Mayor Pam Marshall congratulated Wolfe for his election victory, thanked Clifton Forge Main Street for deciding to go ahead with a Christmas parade, and wished Mohler well in her new position.
Marshall also noted that a film crew has been scouting Clifton Forge as a location for the filming of a movie that will be aired on Hulu in January or February.
During public comments, a letter by Ingrid Barber, who is chairing the Alleghany Highlands Commission on Racial Equity, was read, recognizing 12 different recent accomplishments, such as: the state funding of Green Pastures, a recreational area in the eastern part of Alleghany County that served African American residents and has been closed for many years; renovations scheduled for Booker T. Washington Park in Clifton Forge; the $1.4 million grant for the Wrightsville community in Covington; and other efforts by Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall and Covington Police Chief Chris Smith for reaching out to the local African-American community.
During the town manager’s remarks, Mohler said that over $80,000 had been awarded to local businesses as a result of CARES funding.
Council approved a request from Clifton Forge Main Street to hold a “reverse” Christmas parade on December 4, from 6 to 8 pm Entries in the parade will be stationary, starting on the 400 block of E. Ridgeway and ending at the Clifton Forge Fire Department.
Council also held a first reading of an ordinance to vacate and sell portions of a public right-of-way at 709 Palace Blvd. to David Hipes. The second reading will be held at the December council meeting.