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City council honors Don Merricks
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Former state Del. Don Merricks (center) receives the key to the city from Martinsville City Council. Shown with Merricks are council members (from left) Mark Stroud, Danny Turner, Mayor Kim Adkins, Vice Mayor Gene Teague and Sharon Brooks Hodge. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Don Merricks was a role model for all elected officials, according to Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins.

Merricks, a Pittsylvania County Republican, represented the 16th District in the Virginia House of Delegates for six years before deciding not to seek re-election last year. The district includes Martinsville and parts of Henry and Pittsylvania counties.

Martinsville City Council on Tuesday presented Merricks with a symbolic key to the city in recognition of his service to the city and its residents.

“In the last six years, you have become a true friend of Martinsville and a highly respected advocate for southern Virginia,” Adkins told him during the council meeting. “We have seen first-hand what it means to be a statesman.”

According to Adkins, Merricks exhibited high levels of honesty and integrity, and he frequently visited Martinsville and Henry County.

“You rarely missed a city festival, special event, an invitation to listen to our concerns or economic development announcement,” she told him. “You shied away from the spotlight and were the first to congratulate everyone in the room for milestones met or exceeded.

“You did represent Martinsville with class,” said Vice Mayor Gene Teague. “You really set the standard for what a delegate should do” in office.

“You stood up for us,” added Councilman Danny Turner.

Merricks said he always preferred to stay out of the limelight, so to speak, and instead “work behind the scenes.”

As a member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, Merricks said he will continue working to help Martinsville and Henry County get the commission assistance they need.

Merricks recalled that he knew few people locally when he began serving as a delegate but he got involved in local activities and community events, and he has since made many friends among area residents.

He was touched to receive the token key.

“I’ve never had a key to a city before,” Merricks said. “I can’t think of a better place to get it from.”

Merricks has said that he introduced at least 50 bills and of those, about 75 percent became law. Among those bills were ones that create a 10 percent tax credit for qualified small business investments for eligible investors and let economic development organizations extend performance agreements with companies, according to the website

Del. Les Adams, a Republican from Chatham, was elected Nov. 5 to succeed Merricks.

Also Tuesday, the council gave final approval to a “preliminary ordinance,” as well as initial approval to an “authorizing ordinance,” required as part of the city’s plans to refinance bonds issued in 2009.

Carter Bank & Trust has agreed to refinance general obligation bonds issued to help the city buy a utility truck and install electricity-generating equipment at its former landfill site, as well as general obligation refunding bonds issued to refinance school and redevelopment projects, officials have said.

The latest refinancing effort is estimated to save the city more than $120,000 in debt service costs.

A public hearing on the refinancing will be held Feb. 25, when the council will consider final approval of the authorizing ordinance. If that occurs, the refinancing will close on Feb. 28, said city Finance Director Linda Conover.

With up to a foot of snow or more in the forecast for today and Thursday, City Manager Leon Towarnicki encouraged people to call 911 if they need help, such as if they lose power and heat and need to go to an emergency shelter.

If roads become hazardous, garbage trucks probably will not run Thursday, Towarnicki said. He added that the city hopes to have all streets plowed at least once by late Friday.

He reminded property owners that they are responsible for removing snow from sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses, and they cannot legally push snow from their properties into streets.

If possible, motorists should remove their vehicles from streets to make it easier for city vehicles to plow the streets, Towarnicki said.

More coverage of the council meeting will appear in Thursday’s Martinsville Bulletin.


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