Renfro believes recruiting jobs should be group effort

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Richard "Dickie" Renfro has an extensive history with Carter County, something he believes makes him the right candidate for commissioner in his 5th District.
   "I was educated and worked in Carter County my entire life. I was brought up in a family that valued the community of Carter County, a community working together for improvements and growth," he said.
   As such, the issues of "quality and improvement of the schools of Carter County are of primary concern to me as an educator and parent," he said.
   "I strongly support a hard-working law enforcement, the volunteer fire departments, Emergency Medical Services, and maintaining safe roads."
   Renfro said he believes that countywide zoning is something which will benefit all of the citizens in Carter County. It is important, he said, "to have a decent place to live and work and to take pride in the county that we live in, to protect and improve the value of property for individuals and businesses."
   Renfro supported countywide zoning from the beginning and believes it is important for persons traveling through the area to see that property located adjacent to highways throughout the county "are cleaned up and looking nice," he said.
   "It seems like the people up in Roan Mountain would want it more than anybody. It's kind of a tourist attraction with the state park, the beautiful mountains, the Rhododendron Festival and all else that they have," he said.
   Renfro gave outgoing County Executive Truman Clark a pat on the back for not only doing his job, but keeping track of the county's finances as well.
   Hiring a county finance director after Clark's departure "will allow [that person] to focus on the financial aspect of each of the county departments. The responsibility of the finance director has been superbly handled by the previous county executive, along with his many other responsibilities," according to Renfro.
   When it comes to bringing industry to the county and providing more jobs for residents, Renfro thinks the responsibility should fall "to more than just one person."
   Renfro said he believes a committee made up of representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations should tackle industrial recruitment.
   "I think Mr. [Haynes] Elliott has done the best he can, but I think he needs some help," Renfro said. "Maybe someone with a background like Truman Clark might be a good recruiter. Somebody that's had a position like he's had, that knows the right people to contact."
   Renfro said there are several selling points the county could use to attract industry, including countywide zoning, maintaining the current property tax rate, improving public utilities, and continuing with road expansion programs.
   He also believes continuing to work on establishing a regional water source for the county would be helpful.
   "For a business to come in, they want to make sure they're always going to have plenty of water to work with and good electricity -- to make sure it's going to be there in the future for them."
   He also believes completion of a new highway project is in order.
   "I think our road system right now in our county is tough to get through. I think when we get the new project from Milligan to Stoney Creek, to get people in and out from where they would be working, would help a lot," Renfro said.
   Another selling point to industry, he said, would be the county's low tax rate. "We can't skyrocket it. They don't want a high tax rate," he said.