Christiansburg council approves citizen group’s sister city idea


The council also voted against the Moose Lodge taking up shop at the town’s industrial park

Christiansburg leaders are looking to become a sister city with a location of the same name.

Christiansburg, Ohio, was named after Christiansburg, Virginia, the native home of a first settler to the Jackson Township. Joshua Howell, the founder of Christiansburg, came from Christiansburg, Virginia in 1808, with his wife Mary and eight children; Joshua, John, Thomas, James, Daniel, Jeremiah, Abigail and Nancy.

According to the 2010 census, there are 526 people, 217 households and 143 families residing in the village that is located five hours and 49 minutes from downtown Christiansburg Virginia.

Tuesday night, council agreed to allow a citizen’s group to move ahead with the idea of the two Christiansburg’s becoming sister cities.

Christiansburg, Ohio is celebrating is bicentennial Oct. 6-8, and a grand parade is planned along with several other major activities like a food truck rodeo, ice cream social, a quilting show and history museum games. The community has published a history book taking a look back at Christiansburg, Ohio with a section on Christiansburg, Virginia.

Council also voted down a rezoning that would have allowed a private club to be located in the town’s industrial park. The Montgomery County Moose Lodge 1470 had hoped to open a new restaurant and meeting hall in the Threshold Center behind Pizza Hut. The problem is that the site is zoned Industrial and everything around it is manufacturing-type businesses.

An adjacent property owner expressed concern the rezoning could open the industrial park to other businesses down the road. Co-owner of the Shelor Motor Mile car dealerships, David Hagan, pointed out the land was developed to support industry.

Councilman Cord Hall said he had concerns over the rezoning as well.

“We need to maintain the I-2 zoning, and by changing it, we are opening up a situation that would be detrimental to our industrial park.

Hall also have a concern over the consumption of alcohol that would be happening at the new location by Moose members.

Councilman Brad Stipes had similar concerns before he voted against the measure. “I am worried about future requests by others that might want to locate there. The (I-2) zoning and industrial park were meant for manufacturing, and for that reason, I am against the change,” he said.

The current Moose Lodge behind Target has been sold, and the private club must move sometime in the near future.

Moose Administrator John Beamer told council the group had hoped to open temporarily at the location, while they looked to build at another spot.

By a 6-0 vote, council denied both the rezoning and conditional-use permit. Beamer said the club will now go back to the drawing board and find another location.

In other matters, council also took the opportunity to honor volunteers and staff from the Montgomery County School Board and Christiansburg Recreation Department for outstanding work last month for the third annual “Jill’s Buddy Camp”, a camp for children with special needs. The campers were ages 5-7, and the camp included activities like swimming, fishing and hiking, with almost 30 teenagers acting as buddies.

The camp was developed in 1981 by Dr. Tommy Barber, Education/School Psychologist in the Galax City Public Schools system and the brother of current Christiansburg Mayor Michael Barber. Dr. Barber later became employed by Salem City Schools and implemented the camp there in 1984.

Funding through the school system for the camp became scarce, and the camp ended in the summer of 2012. Jill Bailey Chenet and her unborn child drowned on July 25, 2012, and Jill’s tragic death initiated a jumpstart of the Buddy Camp at East Salem Elementary School in Salem in 2013, with funding being provided by private and community-raised funds. Thus, the name “Jill’s Buddy Camp.”

Brad Epperley, the director of the Christiansburg Recreation Department, then brought the program to the New River Valley. Tuesday night, he praised the relationship between his recreation department and the Montgomery County school system in holding the camp in Christiansburg.

“It’s the third year here, and it’s just amazing how the two entities work together to present it,” he said.

Also, he noted many of the buddies return year after year, and get as much out of the camp as the campers themselves.

Council also approved a permit for a gospel festival to be held along Main Street Oct. 14.

The governmental body also gave approval to demolish a structure at 1135 Radford Street. The building has been vacant for a number of years and has been listed on the town’s deteriorated structure list.

Acting Town Manager Randy Wingfield said the property owner has been contacted and told the town was proceeding with the demolishment process.

“Once it’s torn down, we will put a lien on the property to force the landowner to pay for the work by the town,” he said.

Also toward the end of the meeting, there was a very spirited discussion about department heads being required to live in the town’s corporate limits.

Councilman Henry Showalter mentioned the current list of department heads being located outside the town.

“I think we should require them to live in town. I think it’s important,” he said.

Currently, seven department heads live outside the town, with two living outside of Montgomery County. Hall called it a case of “community investment,” with most of the department heads being seen on a regular basis throughout the community.

While he agreed with Showalter that the requirement is something council should consider in the future, Hall said for now there doesn’t seem to be any problems.

“This is not an indictment on any (current) individual, but it’s a discussion on how council can move forward,” Hall said.

The discussion was tabled, and it is not known if they will revisit the requirement any time in the future.