Kendrick focused on budget, medical care

By Staff Reports

  1. Clayton Kendrick Jr. hopes to oust incumbent Lock Boyce in the contest for the Mayo River District seat on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
    If he is successful, Kendrick said the budget deficit and the higher property taxes would be his focus.

“I’m looking at doing cuts anywhere we can and trying to find alternate sources of revenue” to help address those issues, said Kendrick, 65.

Closely behind finances, Kendrick said medical care is his next priority.

“We’ve definitely got to do something” to shore up healthcare, he said. “I don’t know if we can get that hospital back or not, but we’ve got to do something. If you have a heart attack, you don’t have time to be transported to hospitals in Martinsville or Mount Airy, N. C., or Rocky Mount or whatever. We’ve got a real good thing with our rescue squads and our people, but we need some kind of hospital or stabilization place in Patrick County. We need to work towards that,” Kendrick said.

Realistically, Kendrick said he would like for the former hospital to reopen and operate as it was before it closed about two years ago.

“We had a good hospital, but I don’t know if it can” reopen in the current state and given the maintenance, repairs and licenses that are needed, Kendrick said. “We would have to have help from the state or the fed government because Patrick County can’t afford the cost to get that hospital back up and operating like it was before.”

In lieu of reopening the hospital, Kendrick said he would support a standalone emergency room, — but “we would have to have help from the state or federal government to get that. As I understand it, to have a freestanding emergency room, you have to have a hospital within so many miles of that stand-alone emergency room.

“They’ve got two in Roanoke, but yet they’re really close to the hospitals,” he said, adding “as I understand it, the permits right now wouldn’t allow us to do that in Patrick County. We need to work towards that with our legislators. We definitely have to have something” that would provide 24-hour healthcare.

Kendrick said he supports public involvement, and thinks “more people should come to the meetings and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the supervisors to have a meeting every so often in their community and advertise it. We definitely need to involve the people because you don’t know what they want or need if you don’t listen to them.

“I’d like more people to come to the committee meetings too,” Kendrick said of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA) of which he is a member, tourism meetings and others.

“All are public meetings that the people can attend, and they should do it. We just have to advertise more and get people to come more,” Kendrick said.

When residents do attend meetings, “you shouldn’t humiliate them when they speak to local government. You should listen to them and research them and value their opinion. I think a lot of the reason they don’t come to meetings is they don’t want to come because of the way they are treated. You shouldn’t treat people like that,” Kendrick said. “I’ve seen that and been done that way myself. … People should be able to come out and speak.”

He said he believes local government needs to be more transparent.

“There is some stuff that legally has to be done in executive session and kept private but I think there’s a lot done in executive session that doesn’t need to be done,” Kendrick said. “Just because you don’t want the people to know something is no reason to carry it to executive session. I think all the board needs to be more open” to the public.

He also would encourage county staff “to be more open and forthcoming with information. The public ought to be able to get any information that’s not part of executive session,” Kendrick said, adding the public “shouldn’t have to go through all these hoops and hurdles that they do now to get information. … Anything that’s public knowledge, you shouldn’t have to go through an act of congress to get it.”

The county’s strengths are its people, Kendrick said. “Our people have great personalities and are cordial. We’ve got a beautiful county. This is just a great place to live.”

What the county lacks are other sources of revenue and attracting economic development, he said.

“I agree with the direction the college (Patrick Henry Community College) is going. They’re starting to train people in vocational skills instead of everything so high tech. I think everything is headed in the right direction on that because you’ve still got to have people that can work on cars, mow yards, do landscaping, welding” and other trades, Kendrick said. “We’ve just got to find new ways for the county to grow.”

A Patrick native, Kendrick said he is a lifelong resident of Patrick County and has operated his own business successfully for more than 40 years.

“I think that gives me the skills I need to work on county issues like the budget. You don’t run a deficit budget. You’ve got to stay ahead and you’ve got to keep something in the bank or in the contingency fund to fall back on when you have problems or something happens that you’re not expecting,” Kendrick said.

Also, as a member of a former watchdog group, Kendrick said he learned “a lot about how the county operates. Plus, I’ve been here all my life, and I know a lot about how things work,” he said, adding that when the watchdog group disbanded, the county had $2.5 million in its Contingency Fund and, we were told, a balanced budget.”

Kendrick and his wife, Editha, have several children, step-children, grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

“I don’t have much of a hobby other than the farming and business,” Kendrick said. “I like camping, but farming is probably my favorite hobby.”

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