The only contested race for a seat on the Carroll County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 7 will be between incumbent Pipers Gap District Supervisor Dr. Thomas W. “Tom” Littrell and Independent candidate Phillip G. Boatman, Sr.
In the Fancy Gap District, Republican Phillip R. McCraw will be the only candidate on the ballot after he won a three-way race in the Carroll County Republican Primary in May. In the Laurel Fork District, Republican candidate Joe Neil Webb will also be the only candidate on the ballot after defeating incumbent Joshua Hendrick in May.
Boatman retired as postmaster of Hillsville and the U.S. Postal Service in 1999 and lives in Carroll County with his 91-year-old mother. His son David’s family lives in Woodlawn.
“I have numerous family tree members and several good friends throughout our county,” Boatman said. “I have worked since I was eight years old, first as a helper in my father’s business, in a school board office, then a confectionary business, and finally in the gun section at a sporting goods store. I did not have to work. I wanted to work.”
Boatman said he was active in several organizations as a youth including the Boy Scouts.
“I know that scouting is a team and group effort. Parents, scout leaders, merit badge counselors and other scouts help in earning rank and merit badges for Eagle Scout,” he said. “I served on Eagle Boards for numerous years. One person does not deserve all the credit in any troop.”
He said he went into the Navy and attended college on the G.I. Bill. After service, Boatman worked for the postal service.
“President Reagan appointed me as postmaster in my first office. I was assigned to a special detail investigating fraud and waste in six states,” Boatman said. “We always found problems in budgets. I served in two officer-in-charge assignments, superintendent of postal operations, and a total of three Postmaster assignments.”
Boatman said he is “country and proud of it.” He is also a Baptist and believes in Christian stewardship as well as Second Amendment rights.
“I believe in commonsense and reality plus I can say no to tax dollars being wasted,” Boatman said. “You work hard for your money and my goal is to work with other supervisors to see it used wisely.”
The Pipers Gap District challenger said he also has lots budget and management experience. He said Carroll’s budgets are 35 percent needs and 65 percent wants.
“A need is a $25,000 Ford SUV. I don’t think my opponent understands that. He seems to favor wants like a $75,000 Cadillac SUV,” Boatman said. “Four supervisors and myself tried to figure out exactly what he has done for Pipers Gap District and the answer is nothing.”
Boatman also claims that the district and Carroll County don’t have the income and can’t afford to pay for the “incredible wants in our county and school administrations.”
“We have a lot of 9 to 5ers in both. I use line items and expense report for my figures you can’t hide from the truth,” Boatman said. “We have a 23rd Century administration, which counties three times our size can’t afford for a population of 26,668. I believe our teachers deserve good pay and benefits. Each school has a principal with an assistant principal. What does school administration staff do all day? The answer is lighten your pocketbook.”
Boatman claims around half of the county and school employees do not live and pay taxes in Carroll.
“We pay for magazines and brochures with grand ideas about our interstate connection and airport. I think we need to spend some of that money taking care of Pipers Gap District needs,” Boatman said. “We need to sit back and do an honest evaluation of what we can afford, clean up the waste, and look after all of our citizens. Tom Littrell’s legacy will be all the debt our children will have to pay for years.”
Littrell is currently in his tenth year serving on the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, where he has been both a former chairman and vice chairman. Littrell has also served 10 years on the Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA), including stints as chairman and vice chairman. While serving on the PSA, the Fancy Gap public water and sewer project was completed, in addition to the Coon Ridge, Fries Road, Exit 1, Oak Grove extension, Pridemore Self-Help and long range regional public water projects. Exit 19 and Woodlawn sewer projects were also completed.
Littrell currently serves on the following: Rooftop of Virginia Board (10 years), E-911 Board (10 years – current chairman), Twin County Airport Commission (12 years), Member of the American Dental Association, Virginia Dental Association and the Southwest Virginia Dental Society (past president). He also has been a member of the Oakland Ruritan Club with 34 years of perfect attendance.
Littrell continues to be heavily involved with the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo). A resident of Carroll County since 1978, Littrell lives on a small farm in the Oakland community with his wife, Faye. They have five children, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry (now Virginia Commonwealth University). The owner of a dental practice for 45 years, Littrell is also a past Eagle Scout, a past Captain in the U.S. Air Force, a member and church treasurer of Oakland United Methodist Church, a former member of Twin County Regional Hospital Board, a Registered Boy Scout adult leader for 44 years with 50 scouts achieving the coveted Eagle Scout award while scoutmaster for 42 years.
He also led the fight to change the Twin County Airport charter to make the Commission more representative of the funding partners, worked with the board to prohibit tractor trailers from using Lambsburg Mountain Road, and continues to promote Wildwood Commerce Park to potential occupants. During his tenure, the board also brought natural gas to some areas in the county and the Town of Hillsville, saving some businesses, the Governmental Complex and some Carroll County schools considerable money in energy costs.
“There is public water and sewer at all four Interstate exits which makes them more attractive to businesses. The completion of the public water project at Exit 1 sealed the deal to bring Loves there. It is a very busy and successful business,” Littrell said. “I also worked diligently to fill the empty buildings in the Industrial Park.”
Littrell said the county’s finances should be carefully analyzed, adding that the needs should be met and the wants should be carefully examined. There should also be a more aggressive effort to collect past due real estate and personal property taxes.
“These past due taxes now total close to $5 million. Last year only 91 percent of taxes due were collected. If these past due taxes were collected, the budget would be much easier to balance,” Littrell said.
Littrell said he will continue to fight to keep the Southwestern Virginia Training Center open by marshalling support among members of the General Assembly and county citizens. He said he will return to Richmond during the 2018 session to testify before the appropriate committee or subcommittee. Littrell also wants to continue to promote regional cooperation between Carroll County and Grayson County and the City of Galax.
“This saves money by reducing redundant services. Examples are the Regional Landfill, Regional Jail, Regional Library, Regional E-911, BRCEDA and the Wired Road. Regional projects receive a more favorable review when applying for grants,” Littrell said. “I will continue to ensure the health and safety of the county’s citizens by supporting the volunteer emergency services and providing paid responders when volunteers aren’t available.”
Littrell said he also will work to provide the best education for the children that the county can afford.
“A good education is the path to a successful and prosperous future,” Littrell said. “I will survey and target the workforce needs of our area, encourage Wytheville Community College and Carroll County High School to provide courses that satisfy those needs.”
The incumbent said he would also explore the possibility of convenience centers for trash collection around the county which would reduce litter and help the natural beauty of Carroll to not be marred. He also plans to continue to support agribusiness.
“Agriculture is one of the most important activities in our county,” Littrell said. “The annual Carroll County Agriculture Fair is a wonderful showcase for our farmers and producers. It continues to grow in popularity each year.”
Littrell noted Carroll has one of the busiest exits off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The high daily traffic count along Interstate 77, which bisects the county, provides tremendous opportunity to entice folks to stop for services or recreation.
“There needs to be a reason for the travelers to stop in Carroll,” Littrell said. “We need to boost and promote destinations to attract them.”
Additionally, Littrell said the Southwestern Virginia Training Center remains a passion of his. The residents require specialized equipment, highly trained caregivers and a safe place to live. “There is a constant effort to attract jobs to our area, but if the SWVTC closes, there will be approximately 350 jobs lost. It will take a long time to replace them,” Littrell said. “I hope the board will assume an aggressive stance to secure a tenant for Wildwood Commerce Park. It is ready and waiting. There is natural gas, sufficient electrical power, water and sewer and paved roads. The pads are construction ready. The airport and Interstate 77 are minutes away.”
Other areas of concern for Littrell include exploring ways to improve high-speed internet service in Carroll and returning Woodlawn School to a productive facility,
“I enjoy helping my constituents with solving problems and answering their questions. To me this is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a board member. There are several unfinished projects I would like to continue working on if elected,” Littrell said. “I am for progress. If elected, I will undertake my board responsibilities with integrity, honesty, fairness and common sense.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN