Sulphur Springs District Supervisor David Hutchins is seeking a third term on the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, but for the first time in his nine-year tenure on the board, Hutchins faces a challenge in this election.
Hutchins, who was appointed to serve the Sulphur Springs District in 2006, faces a challenge in the November election from Rex Hill, who served as a Conservation Police Officer from 1978-2004.
Hill said he feels blessed to have been born and raised in Carroll County to hard working parents who passed that trait on to him. He said he was lucky to have had great Sunday school teachers, Boy Scout leaders, public school teachers and coaches.
“While recently at the VFW, I re-read the names of people who I have respected all my life and it reaffirmed my commitment to service,” Hill said. “Giving back to the community that has given me so much was the impetus for my decision to run for Board of Supervisors.”
Hill graduated from Hillsville High School in 1969 and joined the army later that year. He served as an infantryman in Vietnam. In 1976, he received a B. S. from Virginia Tech in Agriculture Education and taught in Carroll County from 1976-78. In 2001, he received a B.S. from Bluefield College in Organizational Management Development. He spent the remainder of his career as a Conservation Police Officer, from 1978 to 2014. Hill married his high school sweetheart, Linda, in 1970.
Hutchins said he wanted to thank the voters of Sulphur Springs for the strong support they demonstrated for him in the 2007 and 2011 elections.
“My goal has always been to represent the interest of each citizen of my district and Carroll County,” Hutchins said. “My wife De and I live in the Hebron section of Sulphur Springs. We are active members of Midway Baptist Church and Gladeville Ruritan Club. I am a member of Old Town Masonic Lodge and Galax Moose Lodge.”
Hutchins is a graduate of Fries High School and he also attended Tarrant County College in Texas. He’s also a graduate of the Supervisor Certification Course and the Chairman’s Institute through the VA Association of Counties and Virginia Tech. Hutchins is also a graduate of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Leadership Institute.
“These educational sessions have proven useful regarding fulfilling the responsibilities of a County Supervisor for the betterment of Carroll County,” Hutchins said.
In addition to asking to provide background information, both candidates were asked the same question – If elected to the board of supervisors, what goals do you have for Carroll County and how would accomplish them?
Hill said Carroll County and the immediate surrounding area have wonderful cultural and recreational assets which enhance the quality of the lives of its residents and attract visitors. There is something for everyone— music, hiking, fishing, golf, flea markets, galleries, horse trails, scenic drives, fairs, museums, historic monuments, camping, swimming, fresh produce, shopping, dining and a wellness center, he said.
“We also have moderate weather, a strong education system, a hard-working work force and active community organizations,” Hill said. “With all these positive attributes in our favor, why are we not attracting more jobs?”
Hill said first, and foremost, his first goal would be to keep the businesses and companies that Carroll has and encourage them to expand their operations — treat them as partners, appreciate and promote their existence in Carroll County.
“We should develop ways the county can help in decreasing their costs,” Hill said.
His second stated goal is to bring jobs to Carroll County.
“When meeting with prospective businesses, we need to showcase our other assets listed above in addition to showing them Wildwood Commerce Park. Wythe County is doing an excellent job of attracting businesses with decent paying jobs. We need to study others’ tactics and learn better techniques in attracting businesses,” Hill said. “We must keep concentrating on small business development through Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority.”
Hill’s third goal would be to support the Carroll County School Board in providing a quality education for our children. He said he would also work closely with school board members in their initiatives by providing appropriate funding and support where possible, and attend periodic School Board meetings.
Hill’s fourth goal would be to analyze county government for efficiencies and cost effectiveness. “We need to streamline government processes to improve customer service and study manpower allocations to determine if we have made proper manpower assignments,” he said. “Another goal would be to keep the Southwest Virginia Training Center open. We should continue advocating elected state officials for keeping it open.”
Another of Hill’s goals would be to create a more open government for Carroll citizens. Executive sessions should be for personnel issues only, he said. He said he’d also support the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market.
“Agriculture is the lifeblood of Carroll Country,” Hill said. “We must assist agriculture producers in expanding production, innovation and promotion of their products inside and outside of Carroll County.”
Hill said another goal would be to decrease county debt, which he said would free up needed operational funds. Another of his goals would be to maintain recreation facilities and plan for public and private partnerships for future development of pool/waterpark and other facilities.
“We should work with the National Forest Service, federal and state lawmakers and the New River Trail State Park to turn over the closed campground at Byllesby and Buck Dam area to the state park,” Hill said.
Hill said other goals would be to increase volunteer participation in Carroll’s EMS and Rescue Squads. He noted the county should task its EMS board with meeting with volunteers to identify ways to increase volunteerism and participation. Another goal he listed would be to expand the planning commission’s responsibilities.
“We should task the planning commission to encompass planning for future development, building and construction within the county in their comprehensive plan,” Hill said.
When Hutchins was appointed to the board of supervisors in 2006, he said his goals of the day included creating job opportunities that provided a living wage, developing water/ sewer infrastructure and improving and renovating the school facilities.
“I absolutely make that same commitment to continue to work for these and other advancements and earnestly solicit your vote on November 3,” Hutchins said. “Today, I am proud to say that Carroll County now owns one-third of a regional water treatment facility with Wytheville and Wythe County that can produce up to 4 million gallons of high quality water per day.”
Hutchins noted that since 2008, Carroll County has installed approximately 85.5 miles of water lines that provide public water to residents in Pleasant View, Oak Grove Road, Monorat, Honeycutt Dam, Hawks Landing, Pridemore, Happy Hollow and other areas in the county.
“I am excited that the Cliffview/Fries Road project is underway with an estimated completion in the late summer of 2016,” Hutchins said. “Even with these projects, there are many areas of Carroll County that still needs a sustainable water supply and I will continue to seek ways to satisfy these needs.”
Hutchins said he’s also worked with the board of supervisors and the Carroll County School Board to improve school facilities. In 2011-12, the county received a 0% interest loan to incorporate major improvements to Carroll County Middle School and Carroll County High School. In 2013, the board of supervisors was successful in securing the funding to install a new HVAC system and to build a futuristic state of the art Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Laboratory for Agriculture in the high school.
“The STEM lab has been recognized both statewide and nationally,” Hutchins said. “In 2015, Carroll County was awarded the highest honor attainable from the Virginia Association of Counties for this project.”
Working as a team, the county has also provided Natural Gas to Mohawk Industries and retained more than 150 jobs, Hutchins said.
“We have saved you the tax payers several thousand dollars per year by converting Carroll County High School and Government Center to natural gas for heating,” Hutchins said. “More than 25 other industries, commercial operations and residents have realized significant savings through the use of natural gas. I wish to continue to expand the system to save the citizens money and to grow the economy through job creation.”
Hutchins said agriculture and forestry are the major economic drivers of Carroll County. This year, the farm equipment tax was eliminated and the real estate tax rate was reduced in the county to stimulate the local economy, he said.
“Also, the state was planning to surplus the Farmers’ Market, however, the board of supervisors was able to purchase the facility and enhance our community. Currently, plans are being developed to expand the Farmers’ Market and the County Fair, which is growing exponentially,” Hutchins said. “I have strived to serve the citizens of Carroll in every way possible and hope to continue helping Carroll grow. I wish to thank everyone for their strong support and I ask for your vote on November 3.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN