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Wythe Supervisor election Q&A: Lead Mines incumbent Coy McRoberts and challenger Jesse Burnett
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Wythe Supervisor election Q&A: Lead Mines incumbent Coy McRoberts and challenger Jesse Burnett

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Coy McRoberts

Name: Coy McRoberts

Age: 76

Education: Fort Chiswell High School

Last job held: Self-employed, 1972-2017

Why are you running for office?

I want to help the younger generation to have something to work for.

Discuss your qualifications to serve on the board of supervisors. How do you view the role of supervisor:

I have a total of 28 years of service to Wythe County: 8 years on the Planning Commission; 8 years on the School Board and 12 years on the Board of Supervisors. The role of a supervisor is to establish county government policy, set tax rates, approve the budget, make land use ordinances, and to make various appointments. Just remember, we are human, too.

What issues are important to folks in your district?

Water to citizens we are in need, housing, low taxes, rescue squads and fire departments – which we all have in decent shape.

What issues are important to the county as a whole?

Keeping good help for all of Wythe County, getting ready for (Progress) Park to expand.

How do you see the future of the Apex Center? Will you vote to spend additional money on the center? Why or why not?

Yes. Well, Covid has not done us any good other than ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money.

What issues are on the horizon that Wythe County needs to get in front of?

Prepare for the expansion in Lot 24; taking care of the rescue squad and with the additional size being added to LMRS, we think we have it under control on our end; fire department to be ready at all times, Scott Memorial Middle School.

What is Wythe County doing right?

Everything, in my opinion With JIDA and county working together, along with the towns of Wytheville and Rural Retreat.

In what areas can Wythe County improve?

Water is a big issue as we have people who want it and need it.

Are you willing to raise taxes to fund educational needs and facilities? Do you think the school board should consider consolidating some schools?

I think we will have to look at it good as we have some schools to be paid off in 2024, and yes, whatever to fix schools. Raising taxes will be set as needed. I’m never in favor of raising taxes, but sometimes we don’t have any other choice. No, I am not for school consolidation.

What does the county need to prepare for the arrival of Blue Star-AGI?

They are already making preparations for rail, water, road and sewer now.

What industries would you like to see recruited to this area?

Any.

What businesses would you like to see developed?

Anything that has a good foundation to keep employed whomever is hired with good pay, good benefits – something to look forward to.

What changes to the county – taxes, land use, education, etc. – would be required to better recruit?

I think Wythe County is on the move to set the standard for SWVA as we have tried to prepare with sewer in Poplar Camp, Newtown, with water in places like Barren Springs and $350,000 budgeted for citizens of Barren Springs. I think we are on a roll and let’s work to keep it moving.

I didn’t visit with citizens much, as I have great respect for Covid-19. And if elected, I will continue to make Wythe County a better place to work and live in.

Jesse R. Burnett

Name: Jesse Burnett

Age: 41

Education: College Graduate

Last job held: Maintenance Supervisor

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for Board of Supervisors so I can serve our community as so many others have and continue to do so.

Discuss your qualifications to serve on the board of supervisors. How do you view the role of a supervisor?

I feel that a Supervisor should have a heart for service and a deep feeling for our communities. Growing up and farming in the Lead Mines District has instilled in me a deep love for my community for which I want to serve. In my professional career, I have been involved with maintaining several million square feet of commercial and industrial buildings which contain millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. This in turn allows me to help with a dynamic budget to keep those buildings in service.

What issues are important to folks in your district?

Having spent the last few months talking to my neighbors and community leaders there are a few things that come to light in which the county could work. 1.) An interactive police presence in our communities helping with the drug problem, securing of property, and protecting our possessions. 2.) The Lead Mines Rescue Squad is between 10-15 miles from Ivanhoe or Barren Springs which leads to longer response times. We need to have some roads looked at becoming state maintained and to have others maintained better so that our fire trucks and rescue squads can arrive quickly and safely to our residents. 3.) There is a concern with the county water system and with people on fixed/low incomes who have a hard time paying the fees or the equipment for service.

What issues are important to the county as a whole?

I would keep looking as we move forward as a county to encourage our kids and adults to see Wytheville Community College as the valuable resource for education that it is. I’d also want to explore how to keep our taxes low, but to also be aggressive in attracting skill-based jobs and agribusiness opportunities as well.

How do you see the future of the Apex Center? Will you vote to spend additional money on the center? Why or why not?

I’d like to see the APEX Center become a viable venue in the county. If productive partnerships with local business and/or counties and state agencies are formed, it could become a well-rounded event center for Southwest Virginia. The burden of using tax payer revenue to keep it running is unsustainable for long term operations.

What issues are on the horizon that Wythe County needs to get in front of?

There are a few issues the county could get in front of such as the current inflation rate which causes an increase in the cost of services and goods for all the county’s activities. The county should take advantage of our two interstate systems to attract industries as well as some anchor retail stores. Also, I would look into growing our agriculture base in conjunction with our current industries.

What is Wythe County doing right?

Wythe County is doing well in having a lower tax rate which encourages people and companies to move into Wythe County. We also have done well with building new schools and upgrading some older ones.

In what areas can Wythe County improve?

Wythe County could continue being creative with ways to increase our revenue without increasing taxes on our citizens. We should continue to encourage our communities to take advantage of WCC for job skill advancement.

Are you willing to raise taxes to fund educational needs and facilities? Do you think the school board should consider consolidating some schools?

If the county can continue to be creative and use our community assets we should be able to fund our school systems and buildings without raising taxes on our neighbors. I enjoy our community based schools and the sense of unity it brings to our students and families.

What does the county need to prepare for the arrival of Blue Star-AGI?

While preparing for Blue Star-AGI we need to make sure that we provide infrastructure for Blue Star-AGI and any additional industries that might be attracted because of it. We also could work with WCC to develop courses that would directly enable them to provide a skilled work force much like NRCC does for Volvo.

What industries would you like to see recruited to this area?

There is a need to actively recruit industries, but I would also like to see some larger anchor stores to take advantage of our two interstates.

What businesses would you like to see developed?

I’d really like to develop some unique agribusiness opportunities to provide local stores with local produce. I would also like to see some IT infrastructure be added in our communities. There is also a need to support opportunities for our small businesses.

What changes to the county – taxes, land use, education, etc. – would be required to better recruit?

One of the things that could be done to better recruit would be to take a real look at our agriculture. We should make an effort to protect our lands from being utilized for lower long-term yields than those that agribusinesses would produce over the same time with less impact on the environment. We need to continue to encourage our kids and adults to utilize WCC as the valuable education and work force developer that it is. This would be used to recruit industries to fill and expand our industrial parks. We need to remember that the communities make up our county and we need to love one another more as we move forward together. God bless!

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