Christiansburg officially appoints interim town manager following standoff, suicide

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) The Town of Christiansburg officially said goodbye to Town Manager Steve Biggs Tuesday in Clayton, North Carolina.

Many members of town government went down for a memorial service and then went into a town council meeting that night.

Biggs' Assistant Town Manager Randy Wingfield had been serving as acting town manager for the last week.

Tuesday night, he was officially appointed interim town manager, with a raise of nearly $17,000.

"I appreciate the opportunity, I know it's a difficult situation, but I do have a very supportive and very supportive council," Wingfield said. "I do think we have a good foundation for the future with the town too."

Mayor Mike Barber said Wingfield, a 19-year employee of Christiansburg and assistant town manager for five years, was the logical choice for the position.

He said, "I don't think there's anybody that knows Christiansburg any better than he does and I think he knows what council wants."

But that doesn't mean the memory of Biggs will be gone. His name was mentioned several times in the meeting.

Council Member Bradford Stipes said in the meeting, "I make a simple request to beseech the members of our community of faith within the Town of Christiansburg to pray for his family because they are absolutely devastated."

Wingfield himself brought up Biggs and different decisions and opinions he had while he was alive. Wingfield was asked if he would commonly defer to what Biggs said and did.

He answered, "If there's already been a final decision, I think generally we will honor that, I don't see an instance where we wouldn't. Sometimes there will be direction needed from Council, of course though."

And it will be up to the council if they want to advertise an opening for town manager or make Wingfield permanent.

"Everything caught us off guard," Mayor Barber said. "I think we're in good hands right now and if he is the one we choose in the future, fine, I think that we won't lose a step. But we haven't decided for sure either process or whether."

Tuesday night was the first time either Mayor Barber or Wingfield spoke on camera following the standoff and eventual suicide of Biggs.

Wingfield said of the situation, "To be honest the first couple of days were a little surreal, more than a little bit of a shock to everyone. Definitely a difficult time, but like I've said I do think he laid a positive foundation for the town."

Mayor Barber said, "It's been difficult. I was very fond of Mr. Biggs, I think that he was probably one of the most talented administrators I've ever run across. That loss has been hard for me personally. We're going to deal with it, we're going to on, and I'm glad I have a very solid council behind me because we had lots of conversations over the last week about things."