Three opposed races, including the office of Mayor, highlight the Town of Hillsville’s General Election set for Tuesday, May 6.
The Mayoral race pits incumbent Greg Crowder against challenger Billie Taylor, wife of the late Ivan Taylor, who served as Hillsville’s Mayor from 1998-2004.
The Sulphur Springs Ward race features incumbent Billy Walls Sr. against Bill Tate, who served as Mayor of Hillsville from 2008-2012.
Long-time incumbent Greg Yonce seeks a fourth term in the Laurel Fork Ward, where he has served on Town Council since 2002. He is opposed by Nancy Beasley.
To be fair, The Carroll News asked each candidate the same question and asked that responses be limited to 350 words. The question asked of each candidate was, “If elected, what goals do you have for Hillsville and how would you accomplish them?”
Greg Crowder took over as Mayor of Hillsville in July of 2012. The owner of Hillsville’s Race-Inn and Pole Night Distribution, Crowder also played a vital role in bringing new business Classic Creations to Hillsville in 2013.
Here is how Crowder answered the question posed to each candidate.
“I’m working tirelessly to continue making Hillsville stronger for businesses and economic growth, and a great place to work and live with our families. When I first took office, July 1, 2012, the bad storms and straight line winds came through and caused damage. In the aftermath, our Senior Citizens were checked on and those without power were brought food and checked on twice a day. We removed downed trees and made critical decisions at the sewer plant that saved the taxpayers thousands,” Crowder wrote. “The next major issue I was focused on was the budget. As you may recall, the previous administration was increasing your water & sewer bills almost double. By this time Travis Jackson was hired, and by attention to detail on the water and sewer, we saved $60,000-$80,000 a year, which stopped an immediate increase on your bill. After this we were on our way to progress.
“We had over 25 projects in revamping that saved the taxpayers millions. The police department became very proactive with foot patrols, business checks and my favorite Senior Citizens first program. I feel the police department is now operating at a higher level but at a much lower cost,” Crowder continued. “Moving forward, I’m more worried about the future of Hillsville, and that I may continue this progress if I’m elected - defibrillators in police cars; bring chain restaurants; continue to bring jobs; revitalize downtown; repair aging water and sewer systems (this is vital); continue to find money to move power lines off Main St.; tourism and ways to bring visitors to Hillsville; continue to build the “Friends of Hillsville”; continue all town services at a higher efficiency at a lower cost; listen to citizens’ complaints and investigate.
“I can’t say enough that what has happened over the last two years is not by chance or luck! It’s been by excellent leadership, great visions and the ability to carry them out. I ask as you read many words and promises, who has the strength and ability to carry out their campaign promises? My current record of meeting my campaign promises speaks for itself.”
Taylor, who taught for 30 years, moved in 1994 back to Hillsville, where Taylor has been active in various business and community organizations. She first served on the Farm Bureau’s Women’s Council, then as president of the Farm Bureau for 14 years. She was named Farm Bureau Woman of the Year in 2000.
In addition, Taylor serves on the Southern States Farm Advisory Committee, is a member of the VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary, and teaches a Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in Hillsville. She said she would like to follow in the tradition of her husband.
“If elected as Mayor I would strive to continue to build tradition in the community as Ivan Taylor, my husband, did when he was mayor, such as Safe Halloween, Christmas tree lighting and singing, and getting grant money to decorate the storefronts and street lights. I would like to start some programs for spring and fall for the community,” Taylor said. “I would like to be able to bring in new business and fill up some of the empty buildings. In just the last two years we have had numerous restaurants to close. We need jobs for our residents and it looks as if we will need to create our own jobs. If we could get grant money, we could work on the electrical and telephone wires in the street, which would improve our scenery.”
Taylor said Hillsville also needs to maintain a positive image.
“We need to project a positive image of our town. We need to keep in mind the safety of our people. We must remember all ages need something to do,” she said. “We need to work on the old water pipes and sewers. There are very old utilities. Maybe with proper encouragement we could get residents to keep their property in good condition. Another important thing we will do in the near future is select a town manager. The incoming people that are elected should be included in the selection of town manager.”
Sulphur Springs Race
The Sulphur Springs race features two candidates with 18 years of total experience on Hillsville Town Council. Walls has served as the district’s representative for the past four years. He said things have picked up dramatically in town over the past two years.
“After starting my current term as Councilman the first two years were uneventful. The meetings would last about 10 minutes or less and no major business decisions were discussed, but over these last two years we have made countless discussions and decisions for accomplishment for the Town of Hillsville,” Walls said. “Here are a few of the very important accomplishments we’ve seen in the last two years. We will have a balanced budget for the first time in five years, without going into our savings. Also, I personally got the old Rescue Squad building issue on the agenda of the new Town Council, and it was sold for a nice profit, and not to mention the savings of wasteful spending by stopping the mowing, maintenance and utilities that went for well over 10 years.”
Walls said he also would be opposed to any town involvement with the Bottle House that was brought up by council in recent years.
“Moving forward, there are rumors that the ‘bottle house’ is being considered again by my opponent. I can assure the citizens of Sulphur Springs Ward, as your councilman, I will never waste your tax dollars on the ‘bottle house’ or anything else that would not bring in a positive cash flow,” Walls said. “On progressive issues, we have the Farmers Market, with a stage, planned for behind the Carter House, our Downtown Events and Concerts. We also are close for a major brand name restaurant to come to our town. Finally, I have led the fight to stop the mandatory purchase of vehicle Town stickers in 2015. The Mayor supports me on this issue, so if we both are re-elected this would be eliminated.
“Also, I need to comment on a previous statement. After the election two years ago, my opposition made unpleasant comments about myself and the good people of Sulphur Springs that voted for me. I promise you if I’m not re-elected and my opponent wins, I will not point fingers and belittle the citizens who voted for him. I have great respect for our citizens and their vote.”
Tate also brings much experience to the race as he served 10 years on Town Council prior to his two-term stint as Mayor. Chief among his goals for re-election is a return to morals, he said.
“If I am elected, the goals I have for the Town of Hillsville begin with restoring the moral of the town employees. If your employees are happy, then quality work gets accomplished. If your employees are not happy, then their work will suffer, which in turn makes the town suffer,” Tate said. “I would also like to see the town restored to the high quality of life that its citizens deserve.”
Tate said he is also against increased utility rates.
“Another goal I have is for the water and sewer systems to maintain themselves without having to increase rates. In order to do this we need to apply for grants. We have many streets and sidewalks in our town that are in need of repair. I would like to see these repairs made in a cost-friendly and timely manner,” Tate said. “Some other goals of importance to me are projects that our past Town Manager Travis Jackson was working on. I feel we need to continue working on these projects. Promoting jobs is another goal I would like to achieve if I am elected to office. I would also like to promote tourism for our town. We have a beautiful town and we need to let the world know how great our town is. My past record shows how much I care for this town. If elected I will return the Town of Hillsville to the community we are all proud to be a part of.”
Laurel Fork Race
Greg Yonce, owner of Yonce Real Estate and Appraisal Service, and an associate at CVS, is seeking a fourth term on Hillsville Town Council, having held the Laurel Fork Ward seat since 2002. If re-elected, Yonce said he would work to continue the services the Town of Hillsville provides to its citizens.
“I believe that taking care of our citizens is important and is accomplished by the services the town provides. I will work to continue and expand services, such as water & sewer, sidewalks, public safety, trash collection, and all other services without major increases in the fees,” Yonce said. “Unfortunately, as with any other business, fee increases are unavoidable, but I will work to keep them as reasonable as possible. I will also continue to find jobs for the local citizens. Business recruitment should be a priority for any elected official. It has been said that for every business looking to establish in an area, there are 47,000 localities recruiting that one business.”
Yonce believes the donation of the Sidna Allen home to the Carroll County Historical Society will open up more opportunities for job growth.
“It may not be immediate, but in time I believe that Hillsville and Carroll County will be able to create jobs from this. I have and will continue to work with Carroll County in exploring new ideas to promote our area,” Yonce said. “What is good for Hillsville is good for Carroll County. I worked with the county to refurbish the HVFD ladder truck, I was directly involved in the boundary adjustment agreement, and I represent Carroll County on the Twin County Airport Commission. The airport has seen significant growth over the past few years and this was accomplished with very little expense to the funding localities. The airport is the front door to our community. I have always had an open door policy and will continue that. I have lived in Hillsville for 47 years and owned a business in Hillsville for 20 years. I know the day-to-day needs of Hillsville and will represent Hillsville to the best of my ability.”
Yonce is being challenged by Nancy Beasley, who worked at Wal-Mart for more than 13 years, and is currently employed by the Carroll County School System at the school bus garage. She is also an aide with two special needs students she transports to Wythe County. In addition, she served on the Southwest Virginia Enterprise Board for six months and is a charter member of the local Experimental Aircraft Association. She said she believes the citizens of Laurel Fork need a new voice.
“I can be that voice. I am more than willing to listen to the citizens’ concerns and needs,” Beasley said. “I will be available anytime and easily reached with a quick response to the people’s concerns. I will try to answer their questions, and if I don’t have an answer I will get it in a timely manner.”
“I want to keep the momentum of the town going in the same direction as it is now, meaning the town and county working together for the benefit of all citizens. Not only, we are citizens of the town of Hillsville; we are citizens of Carroll County as well. By the town and county working together, we make it attractive to lure business and industry to this area.
“We need to continue to balance the budget and staying within the budget without going into the reserve funds or raising taxes or cutting services. Continue to keeping services, such as water and sewer treatment, sanitation, police department and other safety issues, as cost effective as possible. Finding grants for the vitalization of the downtown and improving the infrastructure, such as expanding sewer and water where it’s needed and wanted,” Beasley said. “Goals include to fix the low water pressure found throughout the district and finding a way to put in more fire hydrants ensuring extra fire protection for home and property. These goals also apply to the rest of the town. By achieving these goals will be the economic engine to attract jobs so citizens can stay and work without leaving the area.”
She also would like to help the town continue to put on events for citizens to enjoy.
“I fully support the Downtown Summer Nights, Christian Family Fun Day, the 4th of July Celebration and the Safe Halloween and Christmas celebration,” Beasley said. “I am looking forward to potentially having a farmers market behind the Carter Home and a stage area for special events. We can expand on this by having some type of special music and street dances and other activities for our preteens and teens. I feel that we need to do more for our young people.”