In the month and a half Travis Jackson has served in the post of Hillsville town manager, he has been busy talking with citizens, business owners, and other town officials to assess what improvements need to be made to help the town grow and be attractive to new businesses. Two initiatives will begin soon, starting with a spring cleanup in May.
“We want a clean, safe environment not only for citizens and visitors, but to attract new businesses. We want the first impression people and businesses have of us to be positive. We are made up of citizens who have a high work ethic and care about each other, and we want visitors and businesses to know that,” said Jackson, who added that all citizens have to do during the cleanup is move their refuge to the curb so that it can be picked up by town crews.
Jackson’s second initiative deals with inoperable vehicles. He defines such vehicles as ones that are “not licensed, not registered and not running.”
“We already know where the vehicles are. We’ll give the owners 30 days to do something with those vehicles,” said Jackson, who added that any vehicle not in service must be stored in a garage, behind a suitable fence that hides the vehicle from the public, or under car cover, not a tarp.
“Most of the time when an industry begins looking to make a major investment, they get a newspaper usually a month in advance to look at what the problems are, what kind of healthcare is available, if there are any outstanding issues, and if the town and county are getting along,” said Jackson.
With that in mind, Jackson has made a concerted effort to work with the county as much as possible. That decision has already paid off in an agreement for the town to get all its gas from county pumps.
“The county has a contract with a fuel provider. They have graciously extended an offer to the town that will allow all our police and town vehicles to use their gas. This will have a very positive impact on our budget,” he said. “We are working very hard with the county to overcome the barriers that existed in the past.”
In addition, Jackson said he and the town council are “working hard with the county to make the I-77 area attractive to a chain restaurant.”
In regards to that, Jackson said he has contacted the Virginia Department of Transportation concerning signage that will alert travelers to the businesses available in Hillsville. The signage will advertise fuel, food and lodging.
“There is no cost to the signage, it is a state program,” noted Jackson.
Jackson also has a proposal in the works for the mapping of the town’s water and sewer lines, which would allow the town to “isolate and repair a leak in a more efficient manner.”
Another project will also begin soon, upgrades to the water treatment facility. A deal has already been struck with the county to provide water to town citizens while the facility is inoperable. Those upgrades will, of course, cost money, but are “important to meet the safe water act,” said Jackson.
Money is always a topic of discussion with a town the size of Hillsville, and Jackson said he will remain alert for any funding the town can use to upgrade and improvements its facilities and services.
“Every opportunity we have, we’re going to be looking at grants and funding sources,” said Jackson. “You have to keep up with it on a daily basis, and try to match the needs of the town with whatever funds are out there.”
In his short time in Hillsville, Jackson said he has found encouragement in the dedication of the town council and town employees.
“The town council is a very good one. They are engaged and all are focused and interested in meeting the needs of the community. They have a true love for Hillsville and want to provide services at the lowest cost possible. The town staff is one of the best ones I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of staffs,” he said.