Vienna’s Thornton gets new post

VIENNA – Vienna City Council voted 5-1 to hire Paul Thornton for the position of community development director during Thursday evening’s council meeting.

Thornton left the room during the conversation and vote on the matter of his hiring for the new position, and was absent from the vote as well. The remaining five council members and Mayor Randy Rapp voted on the matter, with Councilman Bruce Rogers voting against.

Council member Steve Stephens, who had previously been against the creation of the community development director’s position, said he had changed his mind and now supported the creation of the position after investigating what Parkersburg’s community development director had done for the neighboring city.

Thornton will assume this full-time position on July 1 and will receive a salary of $38,000 plus benefits, Rapp said.

Thornton announced he would step down from Vienna City Council, a position he has held for more than 20 years, effective July 1.

Thornton went on vacation from DuPont Washington Works on April 1, and has since officially retired, he said. He had to report back for a medical exit interview on June 6, but has not worked at the company since April 1, he said.

Thornton will remain in his roles at the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority, the Wood County Solid Waste Authority, and the National League of Cities Community and Economic Development Steering Committee in Washington, D.C., he said Thursday evening.

“I’m looking forward to devoting all of my time and energies to the city of Vienna and the businesses and citizens in the community,” Thornton said after the vote at Thursday’s meeting.

The new position will focus on strengthening the business community by recruiting potential businesses, expanding businesses and creating jobs in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Thornton said.

One of the first tasks will be to create a list of the available business properties in Vienna, Thornton said. He will seek opportunities to combine several smaller abandoned or unused lots into larger, more attractive parcels of several acres each, he said.

“Right now, there are no plans to expand the business section of the city,” Thornton said.

Private citizens will not be asked to relocate in order to create these planned larger parcels, Thornton said.

In other business, council heard the presentation from the Mid-Ohio Valley Workcamp representative Ryan Ice. The workcamp brings Christian youths in from other states and teaches them the importance of community service through the painting of houses that need assistance in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Ice said.

Ice said the group will bring students from Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan in to work with local students to paint 36 homes in the MOV this summer. Most of the volunteers are 12-18 years old. Four of the homes to be painted this year are in Vienna, Ice said.

The Community Development Block Grant for fiscal year 2014-2015 was approved by unanimous vote. It allotted $85,254 to the block grant, to be used in the following manner: $25,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance improvements at the Jackson Memorial Park restroom near the caboose, $25,000 to build ADA compliant bathrooms near the Jackson Memorial Park soccer fields, $10,000 for the emergency furnace replacement program, $15,000 for administrative purposes, and $10,254 for the window replacement program, Rapp said.

After Vienna resident Lawrence Wilson spoke during the public forum prior to the start of the city council meeting, Rapp warned Wilson that future use of language which Rapp deemed inappropriate for public settings would result in Wilson being barred from speaking at future public forums.

Rapp later said in an interview that he was speaking of Wilson’s references to bodily functions in front of children who were present at recent city council meetings.

Wilson said he felt Rapp’s comments were meant to intimidate him.

A general fund revision of $22,902 was approved unanimously to cover what was referred to as “unplanned, unbudgeted expenditures in the coming year,” Rapp said.

An internal budget revision of unspecified amounts took place in several departments, and was approved with a generalized unanimous vote. All of these revisions consisted of already allocated money being shifted from one line item to another within individual departments, Rapp said.

Vienna Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting its annual ice cream social today at 6 p.m. in Spencer Park. Cake donations are still being accepted and tickets are still on sale, said Vienna Fire Chief Steve Scholl.

A Flag Day ceremony will be held today at the Vienna Senior Center at 11:30 a.m. with lunch following, Rapp said.