Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence accepts position with Blacksburg

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VINTON–Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence has accepted a position as Deputy Town Manager for Community Development for the Town of Blacksburg. His last day with the Town of Vinton will be January 1, 2016. He will begin work in Blacksburg on January 4.

Lawrence worked for the Town of Blacksburg for 10 years before becoming Vinton’s Town Manager. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1998 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public and Urban affairs, he worked in various capacities in Blacksburg as Development Administrator and Assistant Planner, Senior Planner, and Assistant to the Town Manager. He went on to earn his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Virginia Tech and graduated from the Senior Executive Institute, Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

In  September 2008 he was chosen from a pool of 40 applicants for the Vinton Town Manager position to replace Kevin Boggess who moved on to the City of Salem as their city manager.

“I thank Chris for his dedicated service to the Town of Vinton and know that he will be a very successful Deputy Town Manager for Blacksburg,” said Mayor Brad Grose. “We wish him the best.”

According to a press release from the Town of Vinton, “Under Lawrence’s leadership, the Town of Vinton leveraged over $17 million in investment through regional governmental partnerships and grants. Projects included downtown revitalization, a new downtown Roanoke County library, the expansion of Greenway trails, investment in water and sewer infrastructure, and a new Walnut Avenue bridge. He worked diligently to build strong partnerships with the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce and improve relationships between the town and the business community. Lawrence has worked closely with Town Council, town staff, and the community on numerous projects and initiatives to make Vinton a great place to live, work, and play.”

“During his seven years with the town, Chris has made a positive impact on the Vinton community,” said Mayor Brad Grose.

“Significant business investment in expansions and relocations to Vinton reinforces what a great community Vinton is and the strong entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the business community,” said Lawrence. “Many of these projects would not have been possible for a town the size of Vinton without the visionary thinking, community spirit, entrepreneurial energy, and hard work of our community. Our incredible staff, partners in Roanoke County and throughout the valley, nonprofits, and churches in town have made these projects happen. It has been an honor to serve the Vinton community and work with such an amazing community with a huge heart and sense of community pride.”

Lawrence and his family helped open the new Vinton Library at the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on November 18, 2015.
Lawrence and his family helped open the new Vinton Library at the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on November 18, 2015.

A media release issued by the Town of Blacksburg indicated that in the newly created position of Deputy Town Manager for Community Development, “Lawrence joins the town manager’s team to provide additional focus on economic development, capital project management, and customer service in the building and development process. He will coordinate the activities of the Planning and Building, Engineering and GIS, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation departments.”

“Blacksburg has always held a special place in my heart after my wife and I graduated from Tech and I began my career with the Town of Blacksburg,” said Lawrence. “The opportunity to come back is exciting. I look forward to learning more and working closely with town council, staff, citizens, and the business and university communities.”

“We’re happy that Chris has decided to return to Blacksburg,” said Blacksburg Town Manager Marc Verniel. “His successes in the Town of Vinton combined with his experience in local government management, his background in planning and development and his strong understanding of the Blacksburg community make him a perfect fit for our organization. He was always a valued and respected member of our team and we’re looking forward to working with him again in this new capacity.”

Vinton Vice Mayor Matt Hare said, “It is sad to see another Vinton manager move on but exciting to see that Chris will be following in the footsteps of several former Vinton town managers who have moved on to other localities in the valleys.  His commitment to our community was apparent in his interactions with our staff and citizens.  His steady leadership helped Vinton weather difficult economic conditions and ultimately helped move us to a stronger, brighter future.  Personally, I will miss him.  He is a good man, great father and husband, and dear friend.  I look forward to hearing of his success in Blacksburg and wish him and his family well; they will be missed.”

Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence (second from right) helped break ground for the new Vinton Public Library in April 2014.
Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence (second from right) helped break ground for the new Vinton Public Library in April 2014.

 

Lawrence has not only been a highly respected member of the administration in the Town of Vinton, he has also been a valued member of the community at large where he and his wife Heather are actively involved with their children in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and with the PTA at Herman L. Horn where their children are students. Lawrence is also a member of the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club and an active board member on the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Virginia Tech graduate Lawrence lost a bet with town employees and was forced to dress as a Wahoo at Fall Festival in 2013.
Virginia Tech graduate Lawrence lost a bet with town employees and was forced to dress as a Wahoo at Fall Festival in 2013.

He plans to move his family to Blacksburg at the end of the school year.

Chris Lawrence is traditionally on hand each spring for the planting of trees by school children on Arbor Day. This celebration was on the Wolf Creek Greenway in 2012.
Chris Lawrence is traditionally on hand each spring for the planting of trees by school children on Arbor Day. This celebration was on the Wolf Creek Greenway in 2012.

“I wish Chris the best but I sure am sorry to see him go,” said Angie Chewning, Executive Director of the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce. “Both professionally and as a neighbor, he will be missed. Chris worked in moving Vinton forward; Blacksburg is lucky to get him.”

“It has been a pleasure working with Chris Lawrence over the years with the Vinton Chamber as well as the Vinton Town Council,” said Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty, who served as president of the VACC for three years prior to joining town council. “He and his family have been an asset to the Town and they will be greatly missed.”

“Chris has been an excellent leader for the Town of Vinton,” said former councilman Wes Nance. “His tenure included some difficult economic times.  Chris, however, met those challenges head on and the Town emerged from that difficult time stronger and well positioned for future growth. Investments in our water and sewer infrastructure, our downtown’s appearance, and a new downtown library have all primed the area for private investment.  Vinton’s loss is Blacksburg’s gain and I wish Chris and his family the best and much happiness in his very bright future.  Vinton Town Council will have a difficult job replacing such a talented Town Manager. Chris Lawrence fit the community’s personality and needs perfectly and will be greatly missed.”

Vinton Town Council will meet soon to select an interim town manager and to develop the recruitment process to replace Lawrence.