~ PVN staff report
LURAY, Dec. 12 — During their December meeting, members of the Luray Council recognized longtime public servant and fellow councilman Jerry Schiro for his combined 30 years of service to the Town as either an employee or a member of town council.
Starting with his role as an officer with the Luray Police Department in September of 1973, Schiro would serve the Town of Luray over the next three decades as a patrol officer, chief of police (March 1976), Town Manager and Director of Public Safety (March 1985 through February 1988), Town Manager again (January 2004 through January 2007), Interim Town Manager (November 2012 through April 2013), councilman for a total of 12 years (July 2008 to June 2012, and July 2014 through December 2022), and vice mayor (2021-22).
“I can’t think of anyone who has done more for the Town of Luray,” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer said just prior to reading a a Proclamation of Recognition for Schiro that was unanimously adopted by the remainder of the council.
In addition to also serving a brief stint as the county administrator, Schiro has gained valuable government experience outside of Page County as the manager of larger municipalities like Haymarket, Middleburg, Purcellville, Hyattsville, Md. and for about a decade, Chevy Chase, Md.
Schiro attended his last public meeting as a public servant on Dec. 12, and his final four-year term ends Dec. 31. After 12 years on council, 18 years as a Luray employee, and nearly a half century working in the public sector, Schiro became one of the most knowledgable people in Page County about how local government works.
However, remaining humble as always, after the reading of the proclamation last week, and the applause that followed, he simply said, “It’s been my honor to serve.” He also thanked all those around him, and those throughout the years, whom he referred to as colleagues, co-workers and friends.
Councilman Joey Sours presented Schiro with a gift on behalf of his fellow council members — a glass decanter with his name engraved on it, along with “Town of Luray ~ 30 Years of Service”.
“NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,” the proclamation reads, “that the Mayor and Members of Town Council of the Town of Luray hereby express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for Mr. Schiro’s dedication and commitment
to the Town of Luray, congratulate him on the occasion of his retirement, and wish him the best and
continued success in his retirement and future endeavors.”
In other business at its Dec. 12 meeting, the Luray Council also took the following actions:
• Unanimously approved a Special Use Permit application submitted by Southern States to construct an open front 50’x 60’ metal storage shed adjacent to their main building at 201 Williams Street zoned for Limited Industrial. A public hearing was held prior to the vote that drew no speakers. The Luray Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and unanimously recommended approval of the permit application on Nov. 16.
• Unanimously approved a Special Use Permit application submitted by Minsu LLC (Yijie Lu) to operate a lodging house at 10 Jackson Street zoned for High-Density Residential (R3). A lodging house is commonly defined as a residential building, other than a hotel, motel or bed-and-breakfast home, where lodging is provided for compensation on a regular basis, pursuant to previous arrangements, but which is not open to the public or transient guests, for no longer than thirty (30) consecutive days. Restrictions on the permit included no more than six guests at one time, off-street parking be provided for guests, one 4×4 sign allowed, meals may be served only to guests staying in rooms, a business license must be obtained, and the permit does not transfer with sale of the property. A public hearing was held prior to the council vote, with no speakers. The Luray Planning Commission held a public hearing and unanimously approved the permit application on Nov. 16.
• Unanimously approved an amendment to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan related to transportation projects, specifically introducing Project V-8, replacement of the westbound West Main Street (Route 211 Business) bridge over Dry Run. The concrete bridge spanning 162.5 feet was constructed in 1923 and is in fair condition based on its most recent inspection. Inclusion of the project in the comprehensive plan will aid in the process of securing future outside funding. The Town’s comprehensive plan was also amended to incorporate Luray’s transportation plan. A public hearing was held prior to the council vote, which drew no speakers. The Luray Planning Commission previously conducted a public hearing and unanimously recommended approval.
• Unanimously awarded a contract not to exceed $41,000 to Pyrotecnico Fireworks Inc. for displays at the Town of Luray’s July 4th event for 2023 and 2024. Funding for the fireworks displays is incorporated into the Town’s Annual Budget.
• Unanimously awarded a contract not to exceed $1,056,578 ($981,578 – base bid, $75,000 contingency) to Core & Mains LP for the purchase and installation of remote water reading equipment, new meters and related software. The Town has secured a loan from Blue Ridge Bank in the amount of $750,000, and the Council has authorized up to $500,000 of ARPA funding for this project. Assistant Town Manager Bryan Chrisman said it could take up to one year to order, receive and install up to 2,800 water meters and the plumbing equipment that goes with them. Luray is getting the contract under its first “cooperative purchasing” effort. The Town of Strasburg received the same service from the same company, and Luray was able to lock in the same rate.
• Unanimously, yet reluctantly, awarded a contract not to exceed $365,000 to Bushong Contracting Company for construction of one basketball court, one tennis court, one pickleball court, and the waterline improvements needed to accommodate these new facilities at Ralph Dean Recreation Park. The motion also included appropriation of $165,000 of the Town’s ARPA funds toward the project. The council’s only hesitation was the lack of a written commitment from two local donors who offered up to $200,000 toward the project. Council proceeded with the vote due to the expiration of the offer. Fear of higher prices later and the potential need to put the project back out to bid helped the council agree to take a vote. Previous discussions centered on what to offer at the facility, as some residents wanted more of one sport than another — so the council decided on one of each.
• Unanimously awarded a one-year contract of $32,270 to Southern Corrosion Engineered Tank Care for water tank management, specifically the exterior pressure washing of the Town’s 2-million-gallon ground storage water tank in 2023. With annual increases based on CPI, a proposed schedule calls for interior and exterior pressure washing and painting of several tanks through 2028. The contract automatically renews for another year unless the Town submits a termination notice 60 days in advance. Funding for this work will be incorporated in the annual Town Budget.
• Unanimously approved the re-appointment of Tracie Dickson to the Luray Planning Commission with a term expiring Dec. 31, 2024, and the re-appointment of Ronald Good, John Shaffer and Bill Huffman to the planning commission with a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2026.
• Received a report from Luray’s representative on the Page County Economic Development Authority, Meredith Dees, who stated that the EDA has three primary projects at this time — a revolving loan fund for local business that offers zero-percent interest on paybacks between three to five years; a feasibility study on building a beef processing plant in Page County by an agricultural subcommittee; and finding the best use for property owned on Goodrich Road.
• Received a report from Luray Downtown Initiative Program Coordinator Jackie Eliott that indicated the Christmas Tree Lighting was a great success and downtown merchants reported a busy evening; and the New Year’s Eve event planned from 8 to 10 p.m. on Ruffner’s Plaza will include a DJ, slide show, free hot chocolate, fire pits, S’Mores, photo booth and confetti cannons. The event is geared for families who want to enjoy time together prior to the clock striking midnight.
For more information about the Town of Luray, visit www.townofluray.com.
Warehouse Art Gallery closing Dec. 31, small portion of exhibits to be relocated to two smaller sites
Pickleball, tennis, basketball courts could be coming to Ralph Dean Park next year
Fairview BLA approved, derelict building code adopted, ARPA funds allocated and other Luray news
Luray considering $750,000 loan to purchase 2,400 remote-read water meters and other news
In view of his recent retirement after 30-odd years of service to the Town of Luray, I would like to share my singular and rather ironic experience with Jerry Schiro when he was on the Luray Town Council.
Having retired to Page County 8 years ago just outside of the town on the Shenandoah River, I began looking for dog parks in the area to exercise my two dogs. Interestingly, I soon found out that Page County didn’t have a single dog park and was told by residents that they had been lobbying unsuccessfully for a dog park in the County for some 20 years.
Having spent a good deal of my professional career working in political affairs, including a stint at the Library of Congress, I had gotten my fill of politics and politicians and promised myself to avoid local issues in my retirement. But, I had been taught that if you never ask questions, you’ll never get answers. So, stubborn guy that I am, I went to my first Luray town council meeting in late 2021, given that the town has an array of recreational activities and parkland, to ask the council members why they didn’t support building a dog park in Page County.
I was given some vague reasons why no dog park was considered, like the town’s liability if a park user got bitten, and that he town already had plenty of parkland for walking dogs. The mayor summed it up by saying the council had no interest in a dog park for Luray.
But, what I remember most about my brief experience with the Luray Town Council were the comments by one Councilman, Jerry Schiro (whom I’ve never met), who looked down at me from the council bench and said “Why should we build you a dog park when you don’t even live in the town?” Amazed by his patronizing comment, I left the meeting, never to return.
The next day I called the county planning and economic development administrators, who put me in touch with Stanley Town Manager Terry Pettit, who thought a dog park would be a great addition to the town and county. Two years later, I’m happy to say that “Bally’s Legacy Dog Park” is nearing completion in Stanley next to the town’s pool.
Given that I was so “influenced” by Luray Councilman Schiro for his rather rude comments back in 2021, I’m happy to report that Page County’s first dog park has been built in Stanley and is nearing completion this Spring. By the way, I’m donating the funds for most of the project. I just want to remind county residents that this dog park could have been built in Luray had it not been for my shabby treatment by Mr. Schiro. However, he is welcome to visit this first county dog park even if Luray has no interest in a dog park.
It was rude of you not to answer his question. It was your chance to convince the Luray Town Council to build a dog park but you left with your tail between your legs.
One of my favorite quotes by Benjamin Franklin was published in his Poor Richard’s Almanack: “It is a waste of one’s time to argue with a bully or the village idiot.”
Calm down, Your Highness of the Library of Congress.
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”