CHRISTIANSBURG–Just a week after former Town Manager Steve Biggs died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Christiansburg appointed Assistant Town Manager Randy Wingfield as its interim replacement.
Tuesday night, town council met for the first time since the tragedy, and it was a somber one as the governmental body attempted to get back to normal business. Mayor Michael Barber reminded a small audience of the tragedy when the meeting began with a moment of silence.
But the governmental body moved forward with a sense of urgency with the decision on Wingfield, who has been with the town for over 18 years and has served the past five as assistant town manager. He did apply for the position when Barry Helms retired last year.
Biggs was chosen from nearly 50 applicants. His death has shocked not only individuals here in the New River Valley, but also in Clayton, North Carolina where Biggs spent nearly two decades in the same position.
Christiansburg council members and staff attended a Clayton memorial service earlier in the day.
Councilman Cord Hall said it had been a very long and tough day. Brad Stipes asked community members and clergy to remember the Biggs family in their thoughts as they are having a hard time in dealing with the father and husband’s death.
Barber felt it was just logical for Wingfield to step into the role in leading at least for now. No decision has been made as of yet on what the next step could be.
Biggs was chosen after a national search last spring and began work last July. His family had remained in Clayton to allow his youngest daughter to finish high school this spring.
Wingfield had said earlier in the week that he was proud to have worked for Biggs and learned much from him in terms of leadership, team building and public outreach.
“He has laid a solid foundation for the town to use and built momentum that we can rightfully continue in his honor,” he said.
Council bared down and was able to do some business Tuesday night. A decision to drop an “aggressive solicitation” ordinance and replace it with an “interference with traffic prohibited” one was approved by a 6-0 vote.
Legal representation had told the group that the original ordinance as written would restrict first amendment rights of citizens. Aggressive solicitation and sales was simply not enforceable.
Council approved a new ordinance which prohibits pedestrians and motor vehicle operators from exchanging items and interfering with traffic while a motor vehicle is in the travel lane of a road or highway.
There is an exception. Items can be exchanged while the vehicle is parked or on private property.
Thus, the change would not prohibit panhandling. Instead, it would only be illegal if those individuals stepped into the roadway to seek donations.
Under the new ordinance, motorists could also be charged if they reach out and take or give something to any individual in the roadway.
This would also restrict things like political solicitation and fundraising.
Council also awarded a contract for design work of wayfinding signs in town to KMA Design, based in Pittsburgh. The company has more than 20 years of experience in signage, wayfinding and branding projects with Walt Disney World, John Hopkins University and localities like Manassas, Carnegie Pennsylvania, and Kennesaw Georgia.
The town hopes to place new welcome signs, banners and wayfinding signs throughout the community. Public Information Director Melissa Powell hopes KMA could bring samples to council by the end of the summer.
Council also moved a public hearing for a conditional use permit for a trampoline park at 200 Midway Plaza Drive to April 25.