Lights to shine on SWVA Farmers' Market

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Increasing use and security are two reasons that extra lighting will go up at the retail building at the Southwest Virginia Farmers' Market.

Members of the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority agreed to the price of $8,472 to install 10 wooden poles and 20 400-watt metal halide lights.

While there was some question whether the funds should come from the IDA or the supervisors, the title to the property is held by the authority, as County Administrator Gary Larrowe pointed out at the IDA meeting.

The county has invested a tremendous amount at that facility, including $250,000 to pave the parking lot, funded by a grant and some electrical improvements.

Locals are hoping to get more use out of the cannery located at that site, and discussion has involved opening up that facility at night, as county officials discussed.

Plus, there have been problems at the retail market with thefts, and the lights could help with that, Larrowe indicated. "You still need to take care of your property," he said.

Authority member Barry Hicks agreed. "We own the property over there, and with all the investments that's going on in that area over there..." he noted,  "I think it's a necessity."

With that, he made a motion to buy the materials and install the lights, which the authority members approved unanimously.

"It's our hope it would solve the security issue," said market Manager Kevin Semones after the meeting.

But it's not just a security issue, he explained. It's also about getting more use out of the facility.

As of last year, Carroll County started holding it's agricultural fair at the farmers' market, and there's hopes the facility can provide other events in the evenings and on the weekends in the future.

While he acknowledges there's been three or so break-ins at the retail building since last fall, resulting in some money gone and some damage to property, Semones expects the lights will make the farmers' market a more inviting and user-friendly place for the general public.

Some of the people that use the cannery to make apple butter show up before dawn to start work, he noted.

The Blue Ridge Regional Visitors Center sits next to the cannery, and sometimes people try to stop there when its dark, Semones said. There are times when those visitors coming off Interstate 77 believe the visitors center is at the farmers' market offices across the creek — probably because the wholesale side of the market has more lights, he believes.

And there is expected to be more activity at the bank of retail spaces being developed on the property, too, and he sees the new lights helping with that.

"I think it's a positive thing for everybody," Semones said about the lights being installed.