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Mayor reflects on job's first half-year

Darr names dam removal, budget committee as highlights, targets new town manager

By Ben Orcutt -- borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- With some significant things accomplished during his first six months in office, Mayor Timothy W. Darr says the Town Council is looking ahead to 2011 with positive plans.

One of the most significant things to occur since he began his two-year term in July is the removal of the Riverton Dam on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River following drownings there in April and June, Darr said.

Another high point, Darr said, was the work of the Blue Ribbon Budget Committee.
"I didn't establish the blue ribbon committee, but tasking them with helping us to work on our budget I think was important to get that third-party view of how things look from another person's eyes and what recommendations [they had]," Darr said. "And they were tasked with whether good or bad, just give us your recommendations so we could have some ideas or something maybe we didn't notice to look at going into trying to save money for this fiscal year as well as ... helping us out for future years as far as budgetary items and things like that."

The top priority for 2011 will be hiring a new town manager, Darr said.
"That's number one actually is to start the search for a new town manager, getting back to the basics of good, sound management practices and moving forward with some short-term programs as well as some long-term capital improvement programs, which are needed," he said.

Some projects are carryovers from 2010, Darr added, such as Leach Run Parkway, a new road that would connect Happy Creek Road and Va. 55.

"We're working on that a little bit more," Darr said. "We're trying to get more involved with county relations, which [Leach] Run Parkway and some of those things are going to be group projects. We're doing a lot of planning, a lot of, I guess, restructuring the way we're thinking about things based on the economy and the budget.

"I've tasked council and myself at our last work session to come back in January with some fresh ideas of some of the things that we want to look at, some of the things we want to move forward with this year, these short-term projects."

Darr has a particular project that he would like to see move forward.

"My pet has been the number tracking system for public works where when you call down there you get an actual number and you can track your project through your number from beginning to end, and it'll make a little bit more accountability on the town's part to make sure we're serving our citizens in the manner that I feel we need to," Darr said.

One councilman has suggested the panel do more research about the future of the Afton Inn, while another councilman has made overtures about a connector road between Kendrick Lane and Kerfoot Avenue, Darr said.

"In January we're going to come back with a fresh mindset and try to move forward with some of these projects," Darr said.

Darr said he thinks that between the council and town staff the elements are in place to make for a fruitful future moving forward.

"Absolutely, I feel like I'm working with a very good council and have a very good staff," he said. "The recipe is there. We have all the ingredients. We just need to put it together and make the end product, and that's what my goal's been kind of and with the council, we're going to work on the recipe to try to make that happen."

Darr is positive about the new year.

"I think you're going to see some good things come out of us in 2011," he said. "At least I'm optimistic. I feel that'll happen. We have a lot on our plate. The town is rapidly changing. There's federal, state mandates. The economy's certainly created a lot of problems as far as state funding and things go, but I think we're looking where we're going to be conscientious. We're going to try to move forward."

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