Two candidates have registered for the Town of Hillsville’s May 6 election, Billie Taylor for mayor and Billy Walls Sr. for the Sulphur Springs council seat. No candidates had come forward for the Laurel Fork council seat at press time.
Billie Taylor, wife of the deceased Ivan Taylor, who served as mayor from 1998-2004, is the first to put her name in the hat for the town’s top office.
“Most of my life has been in the service of the community, and I feel a strong desire to continue to improve the community,” said Taylor of her decision to run for mayor.
“I want to promote safety, continue the water and sewer, improve community wellness, push to have more involvement from the citizens, and improve the livelihood of our citizens,” she added.
Taylor, who taught for 30 years, attended Bluefield College and later received her master’s degree from Marshall University. She taught a few years in Carroll County prior to Ivan’s return from the Korean War, but most of her teaching career took place in Kanawha County in West Virginia.
After retiring in 1994, the couple moved 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.
“I’ve had experience working with money because we had over 2,000 members and had to meet a budget,” said Taylor, who still serves on the Farm Bureau Board.
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.
Walls, who is running for a second term, said, “We’ve got the town going in the right direction, and I want to keep it going and growing. The last two years, we’ve got where we could accomplish something. I feel good about the way we’re headed.”
During Walls’ first term, he supervised the reconstruction of the Beaver Dam Trail by the town’s public works employees and trustees from the New River Valley Jail, while using donated equipment and material. Adams Construction Company donated 900 tons of millings, which saved the town $45,000, and a resident loaned the town the equipment needed to rebuild a bridge, which saved the town another $25,000.
Walls added that he also supervised the eviction of problem tenants and the rehabilitation of town apartments, while developing a new lease and application process. The apartments are now rented and generating $34,800 a year.
Walls also pointed to changes involving sewer and water made by council over the past two years that have saved taxpayers money. One of those was the recent renegotiation of the funding for the replacement of the ultra violet equipment at the wastewater treatment plant that will save the town $51,320. Another renegotiation, this one over the solid waste leachate rate with the Solid Waste Authority, is expected to generate between $25,000 and $40,000 per year in additional revenue. In addition, an inflow and infiltration inventory program for the wastewater utility system will result in savings of $40,000 per year.
“I want to keep the sewer and water bills down. That’s one of my main goals,” said Walls.
One of the biggest savings resulted from a renegotiation concerning a 2011 Series Bond held by Carter Bank & Trust. It reduced the interest rate the town is paying, thus creating a savings of $414,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the interest rates over the term of the loan.
Other changes in operation have also saved the town money, noted Walls. An agreement with Carroll County which allowed town vehicles to use county gas pumps will result in an estimated $12,000 per year in fuel savings, use of the county’s GIS system will save the town $6,000 per year, and the use of the town’s legal counsel to collect delinquent taxes saved the town $7,500.
Walls pointed to several other actions undertaken by the town during his two years on council that have or will benefit residents.
A program to eliminate unlicensed vehicles throughout has been initiated, as well as a cleanup of blighted areas, council has developed a Tourism Marketing Plan that will benefit new business development, and developed Articles of Incorporation and by-laws of the Friends of the Town of Hillsville, an organization that will seek funds and assist in town events and projects.
As for the future, Walls said he would like to see the elimination of the town’s automobile decals by 2015, and hopes to lure more industry to the area, thus creating more jobs.
“I appreciate the peoples’ confidence in me and hope to continue to serve them,” said Walls. “Everything I do is for the citizens, because that’s what I’m elected to do.”
Michael Howlett can be contacted at 276-728-7311.