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County candidates share their goals
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Candidates vying for seats on the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 5 named economic development, education, tourism and stamping out litter among their short- and long-term goals.
“My primary short-term goal is keeping pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the permit we need for grading work” at Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, said incumbent Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant.
Bryant and other county and economic development officials have said the new industrial park represents one of the area’s most important assets for job creation, and plans are to prepare a 200-acre site in the park. But the corps, acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, has declined to issue the needed permit without an identified end user.
County Administrator Tim Hall said recently that representatives from two companies went to the corps with the county and said they would consider locating in the park if the permit is granted and the site work done.
Hall said he is cautiously optimistic that progress is being made. But that would not have happened without the support and intervention of Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Reps. Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt, he said.
Bryant said he is confident the site work will attract industry and jobs to the area.
He said he also is committed to continuing to work on securing retail and manufacturing jobs “to promote job growth” by doing “anything I can do to help get jobs in here.”
Also among his long-term goals is “working with the school systems and local colleges to promote the highest and best education possible for our students. I think the schools and the colleges are doing a good job. Education has my continuous support,” Bryant said.
Bryant said many of his goals fall into both the short- and long-term categories, including his support of the county’s campaign against litter. That is important not only to make the county more attractive for residents, but also to aid tourism efforts, he indicated.
“We are trying to promote Henry County, and that is one thing that we neglected to do for years,” Bryant said. “We’re finding that tourism really pays” off for localities, he said.
Data from the Virginia Tourism Corp. for 2012 stated that more than $44 million was spent by visitors to Henry County, and more than $19 million was spent by those in Martinsville. Tourism also spurred increases in local and sales tax receipts, employment (more than $9 million) and payroll ($520,000), Bryant said data show.
“That’s not bad for one year, you know?” he said.
Randy Scott, who hopes to unseat Bryant in the Collinsville District, said in an emailed statement that his first priority “would be to restore integrity to the leadership of Henry County.” His second priority “is to build a local economy on good paying jobs in new manufacturing/technology industries which will provide tax revenue for schools, public safety, libraries” and other services.
“Danville has set the example for incorporating a diversity of good paying jobs in that community,” Scott wrote. “Good paying jobs attract upscale restaurants and department stores ... bring charitable donations/memberships to animal rescue, arts/theater, churches and other philanthropical organizations.”
Milton Kendall, the incumbent Iriswood District supervisor, said his short-term goals include obtaining the needed permit and starting grading work at Commonwealth Crossing, as well as to “support local colleges and the training programs they offer.”
Kendall said he has worked and will continue to work to promote job creation in both the manufacturing and retail sectors, “support more vocational offerings in schools and also work to put the fire and EMS classes back in schools. I also would continue to support our efforts to stop littering and do what I can to support and promote beautification efforts” on roads.
Continuing to promote and support construction of Interstate 73 — and starting it in Henry County — tops the list of Kendall’s long-term goals, he said. Officials have said they believe the interstate would be an asset to local economic development.
Among Kendall’s other long-term goals are an expansion of PSA water lines in the Iriswood District and “adding additional paid staff to the EMS system as revenue becomes available” to pay for them. Kendall said he envisions the funds will come from the current paid program.
The additional staff members, he said, are needed “to assist the volunteers and help give the best care” to residents.
In addition, he plans to work with other supervisors and school officials to address the need of the elementary schools in Collinsville.
“I know that’s not in my district, but it is something we need to look at,” Kendall said.
Other goals include promoting the new shell building to find a tenant or buyer, and “I also want to look at the jail needs so we can work to address the overcrowding issues there,” Kendall said.
Pat Favero, who is challenging Kendall, said he believes the county must promote small business and offer incentives to those opening in Henry County. “I run a small business and understand the challenges of a small business. We can get people back to work one job at a time. This is my primary goal,” he said.
His other goals include increasing economic development “by investing in our public schools, encourage adult high school diploma or GED education, and provide training for those seeking employment” through continued efforts to enhance offerings at Patrick Henry Community College and the New College Institute; focusing on advanced manufacturing and vocational/technical programs and using those programs’ success to market the area to help create jobs; and focusing on improving growth of retail businesses and actively recruiting retail as the population increases and unemployment decreases as the economy grows, he said.
Also, “we should continue to invest in infrastructure, including fiber optic Internet, for our local businesses, and Henry County should support a ban on uranium mining,” Favero said. “I hope to make this happen” if elected.
He also would work to obtain the necessary permit for Commonwealth Crossing “so that it can become an asset to our community and continue growing our industrial parks; expedite construction” of Interstate 73 starting in Henry County; and have a plan for working with the city in its decision in the reversion process, Favero said.
Decreasing crime and drug use in the area also is possible “by supporting our police force and economic development,” Favero said. “When people are working, they are less likely to commit crimes.”
Jim Adams, who is unopposed in his re-election bid, said that both his short- and long-term goals are consistent and center around jobs and economic development.
Adams said long term, that means planning for infrastructure such as expanding business parks and creating them, and “we still have to be consistent that” the companies recruited have jobs that match the skill sets of the available workforce.
He also will continue to support and work with educational partners, “whether it be the public school system, NCI or Patrick Henry (Community College) to make sure that we are making the very best effort to educate what the workforce is demanding,” Adams said. “And that is something that won’t happen overnight.”
“Consistently, what we hear from manufacturers is they need certain skill sets. If those skills have not been attained, then we may need to develop them,” Adams said.
That development process may need to begin in elementary school with a different curriculum developed aimed at achieving what is needed in the work place, he said. Math skills may be one of those areas, he added.
Also to attract economic development, “we have to consistently look at what makes the community more attractive” in terms of amenities and other offerings, Adams said. “I think that consistently we also, long term, have to look at capital improvement realistically,” not only in the schools but also to replace outdated infrastructure.