Candidates compete for seat in Laurel Fork

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Incumbent Greg Yonce will face challenger Nancy Beasley in the May 6 Hillsville election.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — While the challenger for Hillsville Town Council believes that the Laurel Fork ward needs a new voice, the incumbent says he has the experience to do the job.
Both newcomer Nancy Beasley and incumbent Greg Yonce will appear on the ballot for the Laurel Fork ward seat in the May 6 municipal elections.

Nancy Beasley
“I truly believe the Laurel Fork district needs a new voice,” Beasley said in a written statement in response to candidate questions from The Gazette.
She’s long had an interest in local government, and her decision to seek a seat on town council follows two town issues that arose in 2012 — an idea for Hillsville to buy the Bottle House (made out of pill and wine bottles) for a tourist attraction and the rumor of five-year contracts being offered to the then-town manager and police chief to continue their employment.
“At this point, I got involved politically and felt it was my duty to speak out for myself and the citizens in town,” she recalled. “Many citizens approached me and suggested that I run for council, which thrilled me because I was thinking about it.”
Formerly in retail and merchandising and now retired, Beasley has also represented Hillsville on the Southwest Regional Enterprise Center, an organization that helps startup small businesses. She served as charter member of the Twin County Experimental Aircraft Association, treasurer and coordinator of Young Eagle free plane flights for youths, has been involved in Hillsville First United Methodist Church and served as president of United Methodist Women.
Beasley said she would bring “common sense and common reasoning” to the Laurel Fork ward. She promises to keep Hillsville working well with Carroll, as what will benefit the county will also benefit the town.
“Having the town and county work together, making it attractive to lure new businesses and industry to the area,” she wrote.
For Hillsville as a whole, Beasley wants to continue to balance the budget and to find grants for infrastructure improvements and a new downtown revitalization.
She also wants to avoid giving future severance packages to employees who are leaving.
“Another sore subject to the citizens of Laurel Fork district, that angered many, the severance package paid out to the former town manager and police chief,” Beasley said.  “If any employee resigns or leaves their position they are entitled to their unused sick days and unused vacation pay. That’s it.”
For Laurel Fork, she expects that fixing low water pressure and adding hydrants would help with fire protection and extending both water and sewer to areas where it’s wanted and needed to help with development.
Beasley promised to represent Laurel Fork fairly and without favoritism and keep the budget balanced.
“I will make sure they stay with the budget and will treat every dollar as if it is my own,” she said.

Greg Yonce
Laurel Fork ward incumbent Greg Yonce believes his 12 years of service on town council will help continue the progress in Hillsville, if re-elected.
Yonce wants to continue providing town services to the citizens while keeping the budget balanced.
He noted that the town has a greater concentration of emergency services and police patrols and shorter response times.
“Since being on council since 2002, in my first term, I came in under the platform of public safety,” he told The Gazette. “That’s a service you have to provide…. You’ve got to show the citizens you care enough about them to protect them.”
Yonce said the goal is to keep taxes, rates and fees as low as possible while still providing a variety of quality services.
He is proud that the town keeps the water and sewer rates affordable, while at the same time the workers earn annual awards for water quality; and that Hillsville has more modern treatment facilities than nearby localities.
“Hillsville is below the state average in our water and sewer rates and we always have been,” Yonce said.
Not many localities, if any, operate public utilities at a profit, but instead work to break even, he said. It’s been a challenge in recent years after losing Carroll County as a customer and costs of operation have not gone down. Chemicals needed to treat water have gone up in price.
“I have to pay the same water and sewer rate that everybody else does, and I don’t like it when things go up,” Yonce said.
Town councils he’s served on have resorted to using cash reserves to make the budget balance.
“We had to use funds from the reserves, but that’s what those funds are for — there’s a lot of localities that wish they had the reserves that we had to pull from,” Yonce said. “Fortunately, we have not had to cut any services that the town provides.”
As a part of the Twin County Airport Commission, Yonce has contributed to several improvements including the recently completed terminal building.
This is important because the airport serves as the “front door to the community.” Yonce expects the improvements at the airport will help make a good first impression on visiting business leaders.
A member of Hillsville First Baptist Church and past leader of the Hillsville JayCees, Yonce has served on town council through the boundary adjustment agreement with Carroll, the creation of the Beaver Dam Trail and the downtown revitalization.
“We would like to continue to see things progress in the direction that we’re going,” Yonce said.