By Staff Reports
Clyde DeLoach hopes his perspective and background will secure him the Blue Ridge District post on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
DeLoach, a retired pastor, is challenging Karl Weiss for the seat in the Nov. 5 election.
There are several challenges facing the county, he said, but there are two things tied for first place in his opinion.
“One, we need to get the budget under control and get some financial stability,” DeLoach said, adding he will do that by finding ways to increase the revenue. Part of that would be a so-called Meals Tax, “which I support.”
DeLoach said he also would work to cut the budget. “None would be popular, but I think there are some there that would be feasible.”
Equally important, is finding a way to provide 24-hour medical care in the county.
“I don’t believe that we can afford a hospital at this time. I think it’s ridiculous to talk about buying the old hospital. That would cost $5 million to buy it and then have the problem of are you going to rehab it, and that would cost twice as much to do as building a new one, so you’re looking at over $20 million easily to do that, and we just don’t have it,” DeLoach said.
There are two options, DeLoach said: a stand-alone emergency room. “That’s a little difficult. I know that the EDA (Patrick County Economic Development Authority) has committed to looking at some of those things, and right now, they’re not really in favor of stand-alone emergency room because of the cost of getting people in,” he said.
“The other possibility would be a state of the art, satellite communication on ambulances so that they could connect to a doctor and have that kind of care while they’re bringing a patient in,” DeLoach said. “There are problems with that too, but we’ve got to have something. We’re not going to get any businesses if we don’t have, it plus it’s not fair to people in Patrick County.”
DeLoach said it takes at least 40 minutes, and “that’s if everything goes perfectly,” to get to the nearest hospitals in Martinsville or Mount Airy, N.C. “There goes nearly your whole golden hour” in which prompt medical care can mean the difference in life or death, he said.
Other issues facing the county board include communication and transparency of the board “are real problems. There are so many of the employees who are dis-satisfied and don’t really trust the people running the county, and people out in the county don’t feel as if they’re being listened to,” DeLoach said.
The board “has to do something about the atmosphere, the environment, the working environment. That extends to every worker in the county and to the school board. I have a background in education. I have a PhD., I’m teaching now online and I’ve taught in schools all over the country, and I think it’s so sad we don’t have a good working relationship with supervisors and the school board. Seventy cents of every dollar in Patrick County goes to the schools. So, if you don’t have a good working relationship and you don’t watch your money there, you’re really hurting yourself.”
To help address those issues, DeLoach said he is committed to strengthening public ties through monthly meetings in both Meadows of Dan and Stuart.
For better employee relations, “I think it would be a policy of simply going to each department, meeting every employee that we have and letting them know I am there to listen. One final thing is we have committees, such as the EDA and lots of committees, … a member of the board serves as liaisons for those committees, and I think they should report to the board each month or every other month so the public knows what they’re doing or the other supervisors know what they’re doing,” DeLoach said.
“I would work hard to increase tourism. For example in Meadows of Dan, there’s so many visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway each year. Meadows of Dan is the second busiest intersection, so it’s really a jewel sitting up there that we’re not developing,” DeLoach said. “I don’t want to overdevelop it because then you would lose the flavor that people are looking for but there are some simple things you can do to develop it. So I think tourism and the people—I think we have good people in Patrick County and they’re waiting for the leadership.”
DeLoach said his experience in schools prepared him to be a “good liaison with the school board,” and his past experience in the medical field gave him insight into providing healthcare and the problems associated with providing it.
He has worked with budgets, and was sent to many churches that were having financial problems during his 27 years as a pastor. He left each was in better financial shape than he found it.
After retiring, DeLoach has lived in the county for nearly three years. In the past, he served seven years as pastor of Stuart Methodist Church, has traveled extensively and held a number of posts. His diverse background gives him a unique perspective.
“I’m all for positive change and new ideas for Patrick County, and I have the background to do that,” DeLoach said. He will bring “new eyes to the problems. I don’t know if experience helps as much when we are in difficult circumstances and certainly, I’ve learned to work with people of many different backgrounds.”