Attracting more businesses and industries that offer benefits is the biggest challenge Patrick County is facing, according to Jonathan Wood, who is seeking the Peters Creek District seat on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
Lisa Mickles is also seeking the post.
Additional job opportunities are needed because “right now, our students are graduating from high school, they go to technical schools, they go to colleges, and they don’t have a lot of opportunities when they come back here,” said Wood, 40.
Wood said the board and the county administrator need to be actively looking for good paying jobs that would provide benefits to employees.
He thinks residents are in peril when it comes to medical care.
“Basically, if you get hurt in Patrick County, and it’s not between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, you have to travel out of the county,” he said. “That’s one of the harder ones to focus on, but once again, I think the Board of Supervisors and the county administrator need to be looking for medical professionals to come to our county.”
Wood said a lot of it is looking at the county’s budget and seeing where there’s unnecessary spending.
A firm believer in giving people what they need to be successful, but not giving them anything they don’t need to be successful, Wood said the county needs to stick with its budget “and see whether there’s wasteful spending. Because if you look at it, you do see a few places that we could cut back some, especially at the top.”
A supporter of involvement in elected office, Wood said he has some issues with how people have to address the board.
“Currently, if you want to go speak to the Board of Supervisors, you have to sign in, you have to go speak in the witness box to tell everyone what you want to say. That makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Wood believes residents should be able to email their supervisors or the administrative assistant and have their emails read at a meeting without them having to be there.
He said he also would push for increased transparency between the county and residents.
“I want you to be able to look at the budget, whether it’s the entire county budget, the school budget, the sheriff, Social Services, any budget that we have, and be able to track basically every dime you pay in taxes and see where it goes,” he said.
Wood added the more transparent the process is, the more people will be willing to participate in the decision-making process.
He also believes the county lacks affordable housing options, especially with the ongoing mountain construction.
“Affordable housing, rent even by the month for smaller homes, you’re looking at $600-$700 and up to $1,000 a month. That’s one of the things that we struggle with as well as medical care and not having access to 24-hour care,” he said.
Wood said the county also needs new businesses to help take some of the tax burden off landowners and homeowners. He believes the county has a lot to offer as far as natural resources, tourism, and opportunities in the school system.
“We have an industrial park that’s ready to be occupied if we could have a business come in there and occupy that space,” he said.
Wood said he can offer common sense leadership.
“I currently manage about 150-head of cattle, that’s a huge decision-making process. For those who’ve never been involved with it, you’re dealing with fertilizer bills, $30,000 some years,” and lots of other expenses, he said.
Wood also worked with the Patrick County Future Farmers of America (FFA), and the Virginia Farm Bureau on the local, state, and national levels on decision-making and dealing with budgets.
He also served as a Boy Scout master and worked with numerous people through the agricultural department.
“It all just comes down to being able to look at something and see if it is the greatest good for the greatest number of people. That’s what we need, to make sure all people in Patrick County are represented on the board of supervisors,” he said.
Wood graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a bachelor’s in wildlife science and an M.A. in curriculum and instruction.
He’s been employed by Patrick County Public Schools for 20 years as an agriculture teacher and an FFA advisor. He also owns his own cattle ranch.
Wood is married to his wife, Holly Wood, and they have three children together and a son-in-law. The couple live in the Patrick Springs area.
In his free time, Wood enjoys working with his cattle, woodworking, and helping with the Boy Scouts.