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Town manager busy in first month on job

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — The message that the new town manager wants to send is that Hillsville remains open for business, as officials make plans to build up commerce and activity.
Travis Jackson began working as the town manager Feb. 1, and quickly found lots to do.
Even as budget planning for the 2013-2014 fiscal year has been ramping up, Jackson began working with not only other Hillsville officials, but also Carroll County representatives in order to build on past successes and try new things with the goal of benefiting both town and county citizens.

In just a few weeks on the job, Jackson is going forward with a request for architectural services to find a firm to guide the town in the creation of a farmers’ market.
The idea is to plan another attraction to add into the mix to bring people downtown, as well as to give gardeners or farmers a place to sell any abundant produce or crop they might have.
The availability of a farmers’ market might give growers an incentive to raise and sell new vegetable crops and other products.
The architectural services firm’s responsibility would be to guide the town through the process, plan any facilities that might be needed, evaluate the sites that make the most sense and make recommendations to the town.
Applications will be reviewed and scored to find candidates to interview, Jackson said.
At the same time, Jackson is looking into grant funding sources that could pay for any improvements that might be needed.
“If you do develop a farmers’ market facility for an area, it can become a multi-use facility, as well,” the town manager said.
He could see further cultural events happening at such a facility. Jackson sees the farmers market as another opportunity to build on the downtown revitalization and the Downtown Celebrations.
Town officials have already lined up the bands and set the dates for the concerts and cruise ins, which include: May 11 with the Catalinas; June 8 with The Tams; July 13 with the Craig Woolard Band; Aug. 10 with the Rick Strickland Band; and Sept. 14 with the Fantastic Shakers.
Many people turn out for the downtown celebrations, including visitors who make Hillsville a destination.
Jackson welcomes ideas from citizens with the goal of making Hillsville even more attractive to visitors.
The town manager pledges to use every opportunity he can to bring travelers and tourists off of Interstate 77 and the U.S. 58 bypass into Hillsville. Jackson believes having better signage will be an integral part of that.
The signs will make the travelers and tourists interested in seeing what else Hillsville has to offer.
“That’s why signage is so important,” he said. “So they realize there’s more to Hillsville than what’s right around the interstate.”
One of the things that impressed Jackson was the Hillsville Town Council members’ interest in boosting the town’s health and vitality.
“Every conversation revolves around sustainability and economic viability of this community,” he said.
Other projects that Hillsville officials are working on include accepting bids for improvements to the water treatment plant and seeking grants to complete GIS mapping of all water and sewer improvements around town.