WINCHESTER — The first City Council meeting of 2022 opened with honors being bestowed on a business and a nonprofit that provided exceptional community support in 2021.

Sinclair Health Clinic and Neer Food Mart were each presented with a Mayor’s Excellence Award on Tuesday by the man who founded the annual recognition program, Winchester Mayor David Smith.

The awards, Smith said, “are given to businesses, citizens and organizations in our community that have gone above and beyond. They are nominated by residents in the community” and recipients are selected by a committee overseen by the mayor.

Smith said Neer Food Mart at 1856 Valley Ave. donated eggs, water and gasoline to people in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The business also gave lunches to local children, the Winchester Police Department and the city’s Fire and Rescue Department.

“They have been great community members and we appreciate everything they have done,” Smith said before presenting the award to Neer Food Mart President Rajesh Sood.

Sinclair Health Clinic, a nonprofit agency at 301 N. Cameron St. that provides free and reduced-cost medical, dental and psychological care for local low-income residents, was honored for its mission to care for the uninsured and underinsured.

“Their values include ... placing patients above all other considerations and allowing them to take ownership of their health,” Smith said as he handed the award to Sinclair Health Clinic Executive Director Katrina McClure.

In other business at Tuesday night’s meeting, City Council:

Welcomed Madelyn “Mady” Rodriguez to her first council meeting. Rodriguez was appointed last month to the Ward 4 seat vacated in November by the death of Councilor Judy McKiernan. She was also unanimously selected by council on Tuesday to succeed McKiernan on a new committee that will review the effectiveness and composition of Winchester’s appointed boards, commissions, committees and authorities.

Unanimously agreed to set the city’s personal property tax relief rate for 2022 at 50%, which means residents and businesses will pay about half of the personal property taxes owed on their vehicles. The rate has been adjusted by council each year since Virginia’s General Assembly approved the Personal Property Tax Relief Act of 1998.

Held a first reading of a proposal to update Winchester’s standards for granting real estate tax exemptions to the elderly and people with permanent disabilities. The new standards would raise the median annual household income qualification from $40,000 to $58,818, making it possible for more people to take advantage of the program.

Unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding that allows the Winchester Department of Social Services to remain in its headquarters at 24 Baker St., in a building being purchased by the city for $4,923,451.28.

Unanimously re-elected John Hill to another one-year term as Winchester’s vice mayor.

Unanimously appointed Doug Watson to an indefinite term on the Winchester Towing and Recovery Board and Christian Rousseau to a two-year term on the Community Policy and Management Team, expiring Jan. 10, 2024.

Unanimously reappointed Leesa Mayfield and Paul Richardson to four-year terms on the Winchester Planning Commission, expiring Jan. 10, 2026.

Unanimously accepted the resignation of Calvin Allen Jr. from the Winchester Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Attending Tuesday night’s City Council meeting in Rouss City Hall were Mayor and council President David Smith, Vice President Kim Herbstritt, Vice Mayor John Hill and members Les Veach, Corey Sullivan, Phillip Milstead and Mady Rodriguez. Councilors Evan Clark and Richard Bell were absent.

— Contact Brian Brehm at

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