Terpenny trauma taunts town

Stop by for breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant or lunch at the Floyd Country Store this weekend and conversation is dominated by the town’s decision to hire fired and tainted Christiansburg Town Manager Lance Terpenny for the same job here.

The tenor of the conversation is usually the same:

“What is the Floyd Town Council thinking?”

There’s some talk of a petition to remove Mayor Will Griffin and other members of the town council.

Meanwhile, some Christiansburg residents express relief at getting ride of Terpenny while offering condolences to Floyd residents.

“Good luck, you’re doing to need it,” is the kind of comments we have received over the last couple of days.

Floyd interviewed Terpenny once and offered him the job the next day even though dozens of other applicants also sought the post.  From what we understand, they knew of his backroom dealings with Christiansburg Town Council that allowed him to leave the job with an extra 130 grand of taxpayer money.

The Roanoke Times, in an editorial, summed up Terpenny’s departure from Christiansburg pretty well:

Christiansburg Town Council’s decision to offer outgoing Town Manager Lance Terpenny a generous severance package is both inexplicable and outrageous.

While council had unwisely been debating offering Terpenny a three-year contract (the initial version of which would have guaranteed him payment for every day of the contract even if council let him go), Terpenny had been looking for a new job.

When council members found out Terpenny wanted to end his employment with the city, they should have simply thanked him for his services and offered good wishes for his future endevours.

It was undoubtedly time for Terpenny to go. But council did not need to give him a pile of cash on his way out the door. Council members need to either explain this decision better or rescind it.

Times columnist and blogger Dan Casey asks:

Question: who gets a $130,000 in taxpayer-funded severance in return for leaving and taking a new job elsewhere?

That works out to $7.65 for every man, woman and child in Christiansburg. The town could probably hire three cops and pay them for a year for that amount.

It stinks.

Floyd’s residents should, at the very least, demand accountability from their town government.

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23 thoughts on “Terpenny trauma taunts town”

  1. I’ll answer Danny Casey’s question: A 21 year, key employee of Christiansburg gets a years salary in severance. Once these green-horn new town councilmen get their requisite government orientation they can explain it to the rabble.

  2. Doug: You would do a great service to the citizens of Floyd County — not that you haven’t already helped us many times, including exposing the “data center” fraud scheme — if you would post the time and location of this Thursday’s Town Council meeting. I know that we should know this information already, but I read the Floyd Press every week and only occasionally see notices about Town Council meetings — and those are concerning specific issues.

      • Thanks for the link. I will check it out and/or call the town government. I have quite a few town government phone numbers stored in my Blackberry.
        I have been to a town hearing about the request by Food Lion for an exemption to sign size limit,but that was quite a few years ago and was in an odd little building where I doubt they hold Town Council meetings.

        Since Doug attends the Town Council meetings (and since I am asking for only two pieces of information — time and place), I thought it would be an expedient way to get the requested information.

        With your assistance, much appreciated, I will get the information I have requested.

  3. Sounds like we have a runaway case of jealousy here. Maybe not just one.

    Terpenny cut a better deal for himself than most employees manage.
    And Floyd is looking pretty good too.

    I’d always want to hire an employee that is smarter than I am, and can do my job better than anyone esle, makes my outfit run well and perform my mission.

    You take away a trained and experienced Engineer with experience at VDoT, and 14+ holding the top C’burg post, at a bargain price you win. They lose. A little local politics, a little unanticipated economic reversal, maybe a little personal, still it’s their loss.

    Sure Terpenny wins, he earned his settlement. You figure the average earnings over the duration of his working life, it was a good move, he’s in the VA Retiremnent System, he’s employed in a familiar territory, familar job, 50kpay rate (don’t sneeze that’s good money these days) cushioned by severence, (which professionals earn for doing what they are told)

    The Press may elect to assign a different reporter to the Town beat. No need to worry about severence packages, your photos have been better than this “investigative reporting.” We all know you’ve done better work and while the standards of a town of 400 are pretty forgiving, many have over reacted, and been forgiven. But to inflame the passions or, ire of your readers with a one sided story was wrong. I hope the next story we read includes more rational analysis.

    • Jealous of what? I neither live in the town or cover its government for The Floyd Press (a little fact you seem to have overlooked). I’m retired and cover the county government and courts for the Press as a contractor. There’s nothing Lance Terpenny has that makes me either jealous or envious. I just don’t like scams that waste taxpayer money.

    • Wow, talk about spreading misinformation Mr. Herd Instinct. Doug doesn’t write about the Town Council for the Floyd Press. He writes about the county government. His investigative reporting uncovered the con men who tried to foist a phony data center deal on the county and bilk investors. He’s done more for this area than a dozen Lance Terpennys. Get your facts straight before attacking someone who looks out for the citizens of this county and does so without looking for ways toe fatten his wallet.

    • I suspect it’s Harley-envy. Lance is a better rider on a better ride. And with 30 years on the saddle he’s got seniority.

      • Doug is too much a gentleman to give you the smackdown you deserve Bob but insulting a man’s riding ability and his ride is serious stuff and shows that you not only don’t know what you’re talking about but that you obviously have never ridden with Doug.

        I first rode with Doug in Roanoke in 1966 when he worked at The Roanoke Times and I was at Channel 7, which the Times owned. Doug rode a Triumph in those days and I had a BSR. We ran with group of serious riders and no one could keep up with Doug on Starkey Road or the other twisties in the area.

        I’ve known Doug for more than 40 years and have ridden with him off and on for much of that time. He has owned and ridden Triumphs, Nortons, BMWs, Guzzis, Ducatis and bimotas. He has run motocrosses, dirt tracks and off road events and won his fair share.

        I currently ride a BMW 1150 RS and am constantly amazed at Doug’s ablity to stay with me on his Dyna Glide, which he handles more like a sport bike than a cruiser. He has kept up with me on dirt road and gravel.

        I have no idea what Mr. Terpenny rides or what his skill level is on a bike but I doubt that he is a better rider than Doug Thompson or that his 30 years in the saddle comes close to Doug’s 45 years plus.

        You owe both Doug and the readers here an apology but given the way you toss insults around (hillbillies, etc.) I doubt one is forthcoming. Maybe the four of us should spend the day riding Squirrel Spur.Then we might see find out who is the better rider.

        • Jon; Maybe you should read through the entire anti-Terpenny slander litany here; “massive ego”, “political opportunist”, “cast off”, “theft of public funds”. Look, I really don’t care what scooter anyone rides or where, but at some point Mr. Thompson is going to have to share a very small town with a guy he has represented to be a crook and a conman. He’s walked this thing too far out already. It just looks foolish.

          • Seems to me Bob that the only one looking foolish here Bob is you. You claim you don’t care what scooter anyone rides but you’re the one who started that debate with the statement that “Lance is a better rider with a better ride.” You claim your buddy Lance is being slandered because a Christiansburg town official said he has a massive ego when just about anyone who has does business with him claims the same thing. As for “theft of public funds,” that’s exactly what it appears to be. Even the Roanoke Times called it a sham and said the town should rescind the deal. I doubt Doug has to share the town long with the likes of Lance Terpenny. The Christiansburg reject won’t last long in Floyd.

  4. And when I get the information about the time and place of Thursday’s Town Council meeting, I will post it on Blue Ridge Muse so that others can benefit from that information, should they want to attend.

  5. @ Bob: I have never seen a state or local job anywhere providing for “severance” at voluntary retirement or resignation. Where special employment perks were provided, this would have required a detailed contract (which Terpenny never had) and must still comply with State Code as regards the use of public funds for public servants. Are you saying this is and has been standard practice in Christiansburg? Or that it has not because no other employees were ever “key” to that government? No wonder their red ink is so dark.

    @ Herd: Another Marshall fan club member who bought way into “Friends of The Lance” circle?

    • Well, are you an expert in employment law or aren’t you? Since Virginia is an employment at will state, and employment contracts are rare, severance is discretionary and in keeping with an employer’s respect for the length and value of service rendered. Then there is the liability of the Town of Christiansburg, which fumbled their negotiations with Terpenny and put a 21 year employee on the street without cause, and without notice. Mostly, it appears because that he pissed off a few self important hillbilly warlords for the sin of having better things to do than kiss their a$$.

      • Looks like the hillbillies won. They are still in Christianburg and your pal Lance is not even making a lateral move. He is going from managing the third largest town in Virginia to one of the smallest with at least an $80,000 a year salary cut. Oh, I forgot, he is leaving town with $130,000 grand in taxpayer funds that he obtained under questionable circumstances but many in C’Burg feel that’s a small price to pay to rid the town of a self-important town manager who forgot that he worked for the people and not the other way around.

        I feel sorry for the citizens of Floyd but they can do like the residents of Christiansburg and vote out the clueless members of the Town Council who fell for Terpenny’s act. Meanwhile, I am sure Mr. Terpenny has his resumes out looking for the next marks to con. Jonathan is right. He won’t last long in Floyd. The government may be gullible but the people are not.

        • Bob: Just provide some examples. No contract, no cause, just a buy out.

          Are contracts the new norm, or not?

          IF (all current) Town Council members held Terpenny in high regard, they still had no legal right to use tax funds and bridge this hole in VRS.

          “Length and value” of service are subjective at best, and had been previously addressed via an annual salary and bennies.

  6. All Points Bulliten to any lawyers in Floyd County who are willing to advise the citizens as to the legal aspects of dealing with this Terpenny trauma.

    Floyd has just, this year, achieved the zenith of perfection in combining contemporary & traditional aspects of the town. The last thing we need is a Town Manager with “secret” developmental-related connections and goals. Let us make sure that everything that has been achieved is not ruined by a financial opportunist.

  7. As Doug posted earlier, the Town Council meeting is this Thursday, Jully 15th, at 7:30 pm at the Town Hall on Wilson Street.

  8. @Herd (Terpenny..”trained engineer..experience with VDOT): his training and experience are best exemplified by the N. Franklin St./Cambria St. intersection; what a fiasco for folks and businesses.

    Nothing short of misery has been experienced by residents and taxpayers due to several Terpenny-promoted pork-barrel projects, most of which were year(s) late and over-budget: the poorly-planned AQctr., the Downtown Revitilization project. Overbuilding and illegal building permit allowances (just ask his boy (friend) Randy Wingfield in the permits office), and a propensity to smother citizens’ projects that were viable, exposes the ‘true’ Terpenny.

    The ‘Trepenny trauma’ as of late is coming Floyd’s way. Developers are glad he is coming, or is he?

  9. For those interested, the next Floyd Town Council meeting is this Thursday, July 15 at 6:30. That information is per a call to the Town of Floyd offices. Previously, the time was given as 7:30, but that is incorrect. Please make sure you show up on time!

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