By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 9 — During Monday night’s Luray Council meeting, a longtime town employee received a well-deserved moment of recognition.
Mike Ritchie, Executive Director of the Virginia Rural Water Association, presented Luray’s Superintendent of Public Works Lynn Mathews with the statewide organization’s 2022 “Man of the Year” award.
“If we learned anything from COVID, we learned what ‘essential worker’ means…there was not a citizen in Luray that turned on their tap and it was dry because they didn’t come to work,” Ritchie told the council prior to making the presentation. “It’s important to us to see deserving people get recognized.”
Ritchie touted Mathews as “dependable, efficient and always reliable,” noting the he keeps his department “in continuance compliance” and excels at relationships with his peers and providing good leadership. One comment Ritchie read from those nominating Mathews for the award stated: “Lynn Mathews is a first class individual…the Town of Luray has been very lucky to have him.”
Mathews noted that his tenure with the Town has lasted 42 years, however he deflected the spotlight onto those he works with in providing town services.
“The staff here…from the office staff to my co-workers…they’re the ones that make all this happen,” Mathews said modestly.
Council members applauded the presentation of the award and complimented Mathews for his longtime service to the Town.
“I don’t know how many compliments I’ve received about your service,” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer said, “and no complaints.”
In other business at its May 9 meeting, the Luray Council took the following actions:
• Unanimously approved a Proclamation of Appreciation recognizing Cain Harbison, the area forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry, for helping obtain several grants for the planting of trees and vegetation throughout the Town. Harbison has also personally participated in the planting of more than 4,000 tree seedlings along the Hawksbill Creek.
• Heard a report from Luray Downtown Initiative Program Director Jackie Elliott that the Town of Luray has been recognized as an “Advancing Virginia Main Street (VMS) Community” — one of 28 localities across the commonwealth to earn the designation. LDI is also working with VMS through a pilot project of the Work From Home initiative that involves a day-long agenda on Tuesday, May 24, including a focus group on working remotely in Luray and a downtown tour for VMS officials.
• Unanimously approved a revised Field Use, Equipment and Maintenance Agreement with the Page County Recreation Department for use of the soccer field at Ralph Dean Park. The biggest change in the agreement came with the transfer of mowing responsibilities to the Town rather than the county’s recreation department, who said they didn’t have the equipment or budget to maintain mowing the field.
• Unanimously approved a rate of 39.5 percent for eligibility of 2022 personal property tax relief. Personal use vehicles valued at $1,000 or less are eligible for 100 percent tax relief on personal property taxes. For personal use vehicles valued at more than $1,000, owners are eligible for 39.5 percent tax relief on their personal property tax bill. Personal use vehicles valued at more than $20,000 are eligible for 39.5 percent tax relief on the first $20,000 of value.
• Unanimously approved a special event permit for Page Alliance for Community Action’s (PACA) first ever “Float Your Boat Cardboard Boat Regatta” set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 at Lake Arrowhead. The regatta starts at 1 p.m. Registration is $50 the day of the event, or $25 in advance. The event serves as a fundraiser for PACA and its programs.
• Unanimously approved and accepted a Deed of Gift from Baker Development Partnership LLC for a 0.27-acre lot for use as the site for the new Luray Landing Lift Station. The Deed of Easement provides utility access and maintenance easements to extend water, sewer and electric facilities to the lift station, as well as maintenance access when needed.
• Unanimously approved the extension of the Town’s audit contract with Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates for audits of the Town’s financial statements from June 30, 2022 through June 30, 2024.
• Unanimously awarded a contract for HVAC replacement at the Train Depot to J. Rex Burner Plumbing & Heating not to exceed $19,970. The replacement was not anticipated or budgeted, so the council voted to pay for the project using federal ARPA funds anticipated in the next allotment. Delivery of the HVAC equipment is anticipated to require three months of lead time.
• Unanimously awarded a contract of $1,568,358 to General Excavation for Memorial Drive Phase II improvements. Council deferred a decision earlier in the meeting and later discussed the issue in closed session in order to confer with the town attorney. The overall project will provide sidewalks, curb and gutter, lighting and street improvements leading to the Page Memorial Hospital campus.