The three –Clayton Kendrick, of the Mayo River District, Denise Stirewalt, of the Peters Creek District and Clyde DeLoach, of the Blue Ridge District, (pictured above) – were sworn into office in December 2019, and began their respective terms the following January.
The questions differed only to the extent that some were tailored to specific issues raised by each candidate during their respective campaign. Remaining questions were asked of each of the three supervisors. All were asked to discuss their progress in terms of the goals they identified during their respective campaigns and their ability to keep their campaign promises, areas they hope to improve and why, as well as areas they deemed the board should focus on moving forward. Each also was given an opportunity to add anything else of note, and could rank their overall performance on a scale of 1 to 10.
DeLoach ranks board performance
By Taylor Boyd
After serving half of his four-year term in his role on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, Clyde DeLoach reflected on his service and performance.
DeLoach, of the Blue Ridge District, also began serving as chairman during the board’s Jan. 10 reorganizational meeting.
He said he would rank his overall performance and ability to keep to his campaign promises as an ‘8’ overall on a scale on 1-10.
During his campaign, DeLoach ran on his primary goals of transparency, economic development, education, finances, and community involvement.
Regarding transparency, DeLoach said, “I started out strong, and with COVID I haven’t done as well.”
DeLoach is currently in the process of setting up a monthly radio segment at WHEO, the local radio station, to better reach and communicate with county residents. He said that he also answers the calls and emails of citizens that contact him regarding the ongoings of the county and board decisions.
In terms of economic development, DeLoach said the county has had some successes over the last two years, including the $40,000 check presented to Ten Oaks, LLC by Virginia’s Agriculture & Forestry Industries Development (AFID) to assist with expansion, as well as other projects that cannot be discussed publicly at the moment.
DeLoach noted that Sean Adkins, director of the Economic Development Authority (EDA), is working with nearby counties to create partnerships. “To get grants, he’s got at least two grants that you have to put in some seed money, but one of them I know you get like five times back what you put in. So, he has those kinds of projects,” he said.
DeLoach added that tourists also are returning, and good things are happening for the county because of that.
Education ranked high on his list of campaign priorities, and to help promote it, DeLoach enrolled in a two-year Virginia County Certified Supervisors program and received his certificate of completion in October. He also recently was appointed to serve on the board Patrick & Henry Community College.
DeLoach also has joined committees with the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO), and two committees with the National Association of Counties (NACO). “It’s educating the supervisor and it’s giving access to representatives and federal officials that can help the county,” he said.
In terms of county finances, DeLoach said, “I think we’ve done what we promised to do. We haven’t raised taxes and we’ve worked hard to cut out any fat in the budget. So, we’ll have to see what happens with this budget, but we’ve done well so far,” he said.
The annual audit, presented at the Jan. 10 meeting, showed the county was in good financial shape. “Two years ago, they basically were saying ‘you’re looking at being taken over by the state if you don’t get your act together,’ and (now) we’ve come to where we have a little bit of a contingency fund,” he said.
Regarding increased community involvement, DeLoach said he wanted more participation in county affairs and more people to know what is going on. To help with this, he wants to create a planning committee with the Patrick County High School to attract younger people. He hopes to get this program started later this year.
“Basically, it’s giving them the chance to make some suggestions and things like that,” he said, adding he thinks the board is moving in the right direction.
Moving forward, Deloach wants to improve on the healthcare aspects of the county. “I said when I was running that I don’t think it’s in the cards for us to have a hospital anytime soon. But I wish we could get some kind of 24-hour emergency care,” he said.
The opportunity to talk to federal officials through NACO can also improve the county’s access to healthcare because “it helps to get these connections, and it helps to form partnerships in other counties because” other counties are facing the same issues as Patrick, he said.
During his campaign, DeLoach noted that it would be difficult to get an industry to come to the county if there is no 24-hour health coverage. “That’s just the way it is, and that’s something that we’ve got to work on,” he said.
He also wants to see the county do more with tourism, economic development, and broadband.
Going forward with the second half of his term, DeLoach wants to work harder on the county’s budget. “There’s some strains there. The health insurance – we have pay out a lot for all of public safety. People expect that, they need it, and we need to provide it, but that’s coming with some expenses.
“I just want to keep working hard to keep everything fair to the people and open and take advantage of any opportunities that are out there,” he said.
Kendrick discusses mid-term performance
By Taylor Boyd
Clayton Kendrick, of the Mayo River District, reflected his service to the county thus far after reaching the half-way mark of his first term on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
Kendrick, who was named the vice-chairman at the Jan. 10 reorganizational meeting, said he feels good about his ability to meet his campaign promises and his overall performance.
During his campaign, Kendrick said his primary goals were the county’s budget, property taxes, medical care, and transparency.
Regarding the budget, Kendrick said he thinks the board has been successful as it created a balanced budget for the past two years, even “when it was said we couldn’t do it the first year.”
During previous budget sessions, Kendrick noted that there were many who said the budget couldn’t be balanced without tax increases. “I think as a whole, we’ve done really good,” he said.
While he has not fully accomplished his goal of lowering the county’s property taxes, Kendrick has been able to keep them from going up. He said this is partially due to the other sources of revenue the county has created, like the meals tax and the cigarette tax. “We’ve made a lot of cuts, too, that’s been able to keep the property tax down. Cuts is what most of it was,” he said.
Access to medical care for county residents also ranked high on Kendrick’s campaign priorities. During his tenure on the board, Kendrick has worked with the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to find funding opportunities to improve access to healthcare for the area. “We worked, a lot of it is behind the scenes stuff and stuff we can’t talk about, but we’ve done a lot of things to get that done,” he said.
Kendrick added there also are projects in the works, but he cannot comment further on them yet.
He is watching the status of a bill that was introduced by Del. Wren Williams, R-Stuart, and proposes a feasibility study on the potential to reopen the former hospital. Kendrick said the county could also help with this endeavor if the bill passes.
“Hopefully that deal will come up with something, or will at least get their attention in Richmond, that we need something,” he said.
Kendrick said he also feels good about keeping his promise to increase transparency between the board and county residents. “I think we’ve been really good about that. We try not to have anything in executive session, except what was actually required by law that we can’t do in public. So, I think we’ve been really transparent,” he said.
Moving forward, Kendrick wishes to work to bring more jobs and businesses to Patrick County. He said that would add more tax bases to the county and allow private property real estate taxes to not be the majority of revenue.
“That’s one of the main things, trying to keep the tax down low to where the citizens, especially the older people, can hang on to what they worked all their lives for,” he said.
Kendrick said he would also like to see the county focus more on infrastructure. While he believes the U.S. Route 58 project to expand 7.4-miles over Loves Leap will do a lot to improve travel, he thinks the project should be extended to four-lanes all the way to Hillsville. There also are several local projects that need to be done to improve roads and bridges throughout the county.
Additionally, “we still need to work on the broadband. We need to make sure we get that in here as quick as we can,” he added. Kendrick said focusing on these issues will also help improve tourism and help the Tourism Department get the things it needs.
Stirewalt prefers constituents’ rating
Denise Stirewalt, of the Peters Creek District, requested the questions be emailed to her. They, along with her responses, appear below.
How would you rank yourself and why on: Healthcare, Financial status of the county, Transparency and resident involvement, Tourism?
“It is not my responsibility to rate myself. I prefer my constituents rate me. I continue working hard in all areas for the greater good of all citizens,” Stirewalt wrote.