Ramblings: 'Microtransit' Pilot Launches Next Week; McGuire Enters City Council Race; City Seeks School Board Applicants

What are Ramblings? Ramblings are a collection of short items that have caught our attention for one reason or another.

What are Ramblings? Ramblings are a collection of short items that have caught our attention for one reason or another. We’re on the lookout for tidbits related to money in politics, data, business, civic engagement or interesting events. Think you know of something that could be a Rambling? Drop us a line at editor@roanokerambler.com and we may well write about it. Happy reading!

Roanoke’s on-demand bus service for late nights and Sunday will launch next week. RADAR, which operates van trips for people with disabilities for Valley Metro, will run the service. ROANOKE RAMBLER FILE PHOTO

Roanoke's 'microtransit' pilot debuts

Roanoke’s on-demand bus service for late nights and Sunday launches next week.

The two-year microtransit pilot means bus riders can book trips Monday through Saturday from 8:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Valley Metro General Manager Kevin Price said the system will begin taking reservations today (Wednesday) for the first trips starting on Monday.

Valley Metro has contracted with the nonprofit RADAR, which operates trips for people with disabilities, to run the service. Eight passenger vans will ferry riders to and from anywhere in Roanoke City, Salem and Vinton.

Residents can call (540) 343-1721 to book a ride, by 5 p.m. the day before their trip.

Fares will be $1.75 in exact cash.

Transit officials say passenger demand is critical in determining whether to extend the service beyond the pilot, which the city is funding with $2 million in federal pandemic relief dollars.

“We want this to be sustainable,” Price said. “We don’t want it to end in two years.”

Environmental advocate Terry McGuire filed paperwork Tuesday to run for Roanoke City Council this year. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATE

McGuire running for Roanoke City Council

Environmental advocate Terry McGuire filed paperwork Tuesday to run for Roanoke City Council this year.

McGuire ran for Council in 2022 but lost in a contested Democratic primary that propelled Vice Mayor Joe Cobb and Council members Peter Volosin and Vivian Sanchez-Jones to victory that fall.

McGuire, a Franklin County native, is a senior legislative representative at Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm.

“I believe very deeply in public service and giving back,” McGuire, 41, said. “I believe that I have an important voice and skill set that would be valuable and needed more now than ever on Council, and, specifically, that's my background in community organizing and environmental policy and planning and the intersection of that with community and public health.”

McGuire serves on the city’s Mill Mountain Advisory Board and as chair on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He also serves on the Old Southwest neighborhood association board and as an officer of elections.

Voter Registrar Andrew Cochran said McGuire filed paperwork Tuesday to run for Council. McGuire joins candidate Phazhon Nash in seeking one of three Council seats up for election. Councilwoman Trish White-Boyd has announced she is not seeking reelection, while Council members Stephanie Moon Reynolds and Luke Priddy have not yet announced their intentions.

Among priorities, McGuire cited expanding after-school and youth recreation programs; protecting and expanding parks and green spaces; boosting affordable housing; and promoting sustainable development and smart growth.

“I think a huge priority for me, and motivator for me in running, is doing whatever I can to stop development at Evans Spring,” McGuire said. “I think that is a case study in bad planning.”

Roanoke will also elect a new mayor this fall, with Sherman Lea announcing his retirement. Cobb on Thursday became the first candidate to announce a campaign for mayor.

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Roanoke seeks school board members

Three terms for Roanoke’s school board will be up for office this summer.

Roanoke City Council will decide who to appoint to the seven-person board, which oversees a district of roughly 14,000 students and more than 2,100 staff.

The clerk’s office is accepting applications until March 11 for seats currently held by Michael Cherry, Diane Casola and Mark Cathey. Their three-year terms expire June 30.

At least one new face will come on the board this summer, as Cathey is not eligible for reappointment.

Council members will pick school board members from the applicant pool. Roanoke and Salem are outliers among Virginia localities in not directly electing school board members.

Those interested in serving can find the application online at this link and can contact the clerk’s office at (540) 853-2541 for additional information.

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