A large turnout of more than 800 voters have decided who will serve on Hurt Town Council. Although the votes still have to be certified, unofficial results show that Gary Hodnett received 286 votes to retain the seat he has filled for the past few months following Randy Doss’s departure from council. There is a year remaining on this seat.

Shirley Barksdale-Hill has been on council for the past few months after council appointed her to serve in Jeff Saunders’ vacant seat until election. She received 206 votes to retain the seat for the next three years.

An empty seat stemming from the departure of Norman Bivens was also decided by the voters who voted Jeff Bowling into office with 163 votes. He will serve on this seat for the next three years.

A fourth candidate, Lester Worley, Sr., received 114 votes.

During a recent interview, Gary Hodnett explained that he plans to use his wide range of knowledge of the business world to help move Hurt forward. “My concerns center on industry and increasing the business footprint in the town. Two items leap out at me. First, is the Key Industrial Complex. Second, is Staunton Plaza. I’m also focused on many other issues that include, but are not limited to, water, sewer and a stronger working relationship between the town council and the residents. After all, we answer to the needs of our residents,” Hodnett states. “We do not have any problems, only opportunities. I plan to use as many of my personal contacts as possible to benefit the town. I started working on this prior to my appointment to council and will continue moving forward. This is not simple or easy. It will take time and change, plus a commitment from council to address many of the issues that have presumably been a deterrent.”

Now that Shirley Barksdale-Hill has experience being on council, she shares that the most difficult part of serving has been the challenge of having enough time to work on some of the projects and ideas such as an Emergency Preparedness Plan for the Town of Hurt, which was badly needed when the town was hit by the May 31 storm that damaged 14 homes in Hurt. “We hope to have our first draft, then a meeting with community participation very soon,” she explains.

Like all council members, there are particular projects she is passionate about. “It has turned out to be a lot more work to be done in our town than I was aware of. Another priority is to help bring Hurt back to life by seeking new businesses and shops to locate here, especially a grocery store.

The owners of the old shopping center has been contacted and asked to let us know what are their intentions for the empty building. Some efforts to clean it up a little have begun, but no word of anything more at this time,” she says.

Gary Hodnett plans to use his wide range of knowledge of the business world to help move Hurt forward. “My concerns center on industry and increasing the business footprint in the town. Two items leap out at me. First, is the Key Industrial Complex. Second, is Staunton Plaza. I’m also focused on many other issues that include, but are not limited to, water, sewer and a stronger working relationship between the town council and the residents. After all, we answer to the needs of our residents,” Hodnett states. “We do not have any problems, only opportunities. I plan to use as many of my personal contacts as possible to benefit the town. I started working on this prior to my appointment to council and will continue moving forward. This is not simple or easy. It will take time and change, plus a commitment from council to address many of the issues that have presumably been a deterrent.”

Jeff Bowling says he believes in serving the community and is a longtime volunteer. He has lived in Hurt all his life and is a Lifetime Member of the Hurt Volunteer Fire Department and has been on the Board of Directors for eight years. He volunteered for 28 years on the Altavista Life Saving Crew until it closed. He shares, “I believe in helping people in the community. That’s what I’m here for.”

When talking about what his goals for the town are, he says, “I would like to see more businesses come here. However, I know it’s difficult to attract them.”

He is also concerned about the aging water and sewer lines/system and knows that will need to be addressed soon. “It’s expensive and we need to look at our best financing options. Grants are out there if you can fill out the right paperwork.”

Citizens went to the polls at John L. Hurt Jr. Elementary School in Hurt. After the polls had closed, Hurt Mayor Gary Poindexter said, “I appreciate all four of our candidates who ran for office today (Tuesday) wanting to get involved in the town and I look forward to serving with them on council. I received word they will be certified to sit on council at our next scheduled meeting on November 14, 7 p.m.”