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Sep 03

Manager's Message 9-2-14: Back to School and Fall Changes

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 9:54 AM by Mary Bunting


It is hard to believe that summer is officially over. Like many of you, I sent my children back to school today and the whole time I was wondering how the summer had passed so quickly. I suspect many of you who have children were doing the same! One of my traditions is to take First Day of School pictures, even though my children (especially my new high school student) hate it. If any of you do the same, I would love to see your first day pictures!

As I was reflecting on my day, I received the following reminder from Ben Harris, Deputy Fire Marshall. I thought it was very timely and wanted to share it – special thanks to Ben for providing this reminder to us all:  “The new school year has just begun.   Let us be cognizant of children playing at the bus stop and running out in the street.  When responding to incidents, remember to make sure that the school bus driver has acknowledged your presence, secured the bus, and all the children are safe before continuing – proceed with caution.  The school bus driver will acknowledge your desire to pass.   Please maintain a high level of awareness; children are unpredictable, so please expect the unexpected.”

Fall always brings with it changes. We have had some big changes in our executive leadership over the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to be sure all of you were aware of these changes. Jimmy Gray, who first came to us as our Fire Chief and then became an Assistant City Manager, chose to retire at the end of the fiscal year. He graciously stayed on a little longer while we completely the search for a replacement. I am pleased to announce that we found his replacement in our own backyard. Steve Bond is currently a Deputy City Attorney in the City Attorney’s Office, but he will become an Assistant City Manager on Monday, September 8th. Many of you may know Steve but for those of you who do not, Steve came to us from the Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office where he was a prosecutor. When Steve first came to us, he represented Social Services and later began representative of Police and Fire as well as Human Resources. Because the departments that are in this Assistant City Manager portfolio are the ones Steve so closely worked with in his career with the City, we could think of no better person to take Jimmy’s place. I owe a big thanks to our City Attorney, Vanessa Valldejuli, who was gracious in agreeing to let him leave her office. She now has big shoes to fill! However, we both knew that this selection would be best for the departments in this cluster, and we are thankful that we have someone who can really hit the ground running.

Gloria Washington, our Budget Director, also opted to retire. Knowing she was planning to do so, we decided to eliminate her position in the city budget to save money. Brian DeProfio, Special Projects Coordinator in my office, had been detailed to the Virginia Air & Space Center for several years but is on his way back. Therefore, we have expanded Brian’s role to include oversight of the Budget Office which has now been merged into my office.

And, just last week, our Conventions & Visitor’s Bureau Director – Sallie Grant Divenuti – retired. Sallie and her husband are adopting a child and she is opting to open this next chapter in her life by being a stay at home Mom. Mary Fugere, director of media and community relations for the HCVB, has agreed to step in as the Interim Director for the CVB while a national search will begin to fill this position.  Mary has many years in the travel industry both in the private sector and with the city of Hampton.  Mary has worked in all facets of the CVB industry including sales, marketing and media placement.  She will be a great asset during this transition. 

While many of you will not be directly impacted by these changes, I have committed to keeping you posted on large organization wide initiatives and changes so I thought it was appropriate to share this news with you. For those of you who will directly work with these wonderful individuals, I am sure you will enjoy doing so.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and don’t forget to send those first day of school pictures my way!



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