Three current members of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors formally kicked off their re-election campaigns Wednesday during a reception at Pulaski’s historic train station.
Board Chairman and Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready played host for the event that also featured supervisors Charlie Bopp, Robinson District and Ranny O’Dell, Ingles District.
Two other Republican candidates and a representative of a third were also in attendance.
McCready acknowledged each during the event. They included Tracy Belcher who is seeking the party’s nomination for county treasurer, and Katrina Compton, wife of retired State Trooper Dirk Compton who could not attend the event. He is seeking the Republican nomination for supervisor in the Draper District.
Also attending was Thomas Holsinger, manager of Lowes in Fairlawn, who is now challenging Joe Guthrie for the Republican nomination for supervisor of the Cloyd District.
Each of the three incumbent supervisors made their cases for re-election in November.
“We’re here to continue a process that began eight years ago,” McCready said to open the event. “We’re working to make Pulaski County a better place to live, work, raise a family and to retire.”
In his remarks, Bopp said he’d lived on Robinson Tract Road all his life.
“We (supervisors) have done a lot for Pulaski and when I’m re-elected, we hope to continue on with the good things that are happening,” Bopp said.
In particular, Bopp mentioned his and the county’s effort to fund a new large item drop site off Dora Highway in Pulaski.
Bopp said he is asking the voters of Robinson District to vote for him one more time “so we can make Pulaski County greater than it already is.”
O’Dell noted his life has been mostly about construction, and he mentioned several construction projects he and the supervisors had completed during his time on the board.
Those include, he said, re-working and re-paving Wilson Grove Road, straightening out curves on Julia Simpkins Road so trucks can better access Hoover Color. Future projects include addressing the situation at the old Lone Cedar store location where trucks have problems navigating a box culvert, and the Peak Creek bridge situation on Route 100.
O’Dell said several industries have moved into the county during the three supervisors’ terms. The result, he said, is the county is seeing its lowest unemployment rate since 2000.
We added 668 new jobs last year, O’Dell stated.
Plus, he said, the county is positioning itself to bring in new residents. O’Dell noted a new housing development off Blue Sky Lane would add some 15 new homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range.
O’Dell also pointed to new projects “across the river” in Snowville and Hiwassee – including funding an almost-completed Snowville Fire Department building and new playground equipment at the old Hiwassee School site.
Both men had praise for McCready and his work as chairman of the board.
“He always has his facts together and his numbers worked out,” Bopp said. “He does his homework and I support him 100 percent.”
“He is fantastic, and if we are elected again, he will be our chairman again,” O’Dell said.
For his part, McCready said he originally ran on a number of issues, but economic development and keeping an eye on the county’s financial management topped the list.
McCready contrasted the county today compared to when he was running for supervisor in 2011.
“The Commerce Park back then was growing hay and cows,” McCready said. “Today we have the tomato factory in there and more projects are on the way.”
He continued the old Renfro building was empty, but today it houses Falls Stamping and NewCan Corp.
“The Hill Plant at the old Jefferson Mills plant was empty, but today it houses a warehouse facility,” McCready said.
“The old brake plant in the industrial park – TMD Friction – was empty at that time. Now we have Korona Candles. And the old Warner Lambert building was empty, but today we have Phoenix Packaging,” McCready said, noting it is important to the county’s economic development to keep a strong economic development effort going.
McCready noted he said in 2011 that there are two ways to pay the bills in Pulaski County – through economic development or by raising taxes. He said he, Bopp and O’Dell “don’t particularly want to raise taxes.”
“The only time we raised taxes that I can remember was for the voter-approved referendum for the new middle school,” he stated.
McCready also noted the change in the name of the county’s Industrial Development Authority to Economic Development Authority to better reflect its new mission.
“We need the EDA to not only address industrial development, but we’d like to see us obtain more housing stock, retail and food businesses,” McCready said. “We need to better balance our local economy.”
McCready noted he, Bopp and O’Dell had been big supporters of using inmate labor to do more around the county than just cut grass or pick up trash, including painting and cleaning at county schools.
He noted during their time on the board, the three had worked to improve relations between the county and its two towns and would like to see that relationship improve even more.
Noting the need for the county to continue to attract new manufacturing, McCready said it is the board’s intention to make Pulaski County the hub of international manufacturing – not only in Southwest Virginia – but in all of Virginia.
“We have some of the finest people in our community who do a great job in manufacturing and associated industries. We want to continue to push that,” he said.
McCready said he is known as being a budget hawk.
“I watch the budget closely,” he said. “Some people know I ask tough questions on how we spend money. The money is YOUR money and you deserve to know how its spent.
“That’s probably one reason why I’m not popular with some folks,” he said. “But that’s okay. I’m doing my job. I’m representing the taxpayers and you the voters, and I want to continue being your voice in that regard.”
McCready noted that the election this year is “not just in November.”
“We have a Republican mass meeting on April 25 in Pulaski at the Central Gym. That is an important time for Pulaski County – myself and Mr. O’Dell. We’ll have competitors at that mass meeting. If their side turns out enough people, we may not be in office anymore,” McCready said.
“I would not want to see the progress Pulaski County has made over the last seven to eight years stop,” he said. “I want to continue that progress. We’re doing great things in a lot of areas and I want that to continue.”
McCready appealed to voters to come out on April 25 to the mass meeting.
“You need your driver’s license and you must be a registered voter, and vote for the candidate in your precinct,” he said.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot