Smith to draw on experience to help lead county

By Thomas Wilson

   Changing districts hasn't changed Commissioner Wayne Smith's intention to vote representative of the people's views.
   "The four years of experience I've had has helped," said Smith, 53, who is seeking his second term on the Carter County Commission. "I feel like I'm representing the people of my district and voicing their opinions to the commission."
   Smith was elected to the 4th District in 1998 under the precincts of Hampton, Little Milligan, Elk Mills, Siam and Courthouse. Redistricting resulting from the 2000 U.S. Census moved the Hampton resident to the 6th District where he lost Siam and Courthouse and added the Valley Forge precinct.
   He said he had talked to 6th District citizens about issues ranging from speed limits on county roads to water problems of flooding and storm water run-off.
   Developing new industrial property should also be in the county's immediate plans, he said.
   Smith also felt that the Watauga Regional Water Authority drive to provide water service to the county was a good move, but wasn't sure how the project would fully benefit Hampton and Roan Mountain residents.
   He also said he believed in representation of the people when it came to the issue of zoning.
   "I voted against zoning the last time it came up before the commission," said Smith. "If the people of the 6th District are against zoning, I'm going to vote against zoning. If they are for zoning, I'll vote for it."
   Smith also said the decision to hire a financial director was a "wise move" in order to consolidate the county's financial duties.
   "As far as the cost, it's not really going to cost the county any more because we are having some people retire and the county executive won't be making as much money," he said.
   He also said past problems at the county jail with flooding caused by inmates had been corrected, but the facility still faced an overcrowding problem.
   "Down the road, we need to be looking at an add-on facility or new facility," he said. "It is a major problem for the county."
   A pre-fabricated jail structure that could be built quickly for a lower price could be a cost-effective alternative to alleviate jail overcrowding in the immediate future, Smith said.
   However, he noted that any project required commissioners to know where funding could be found given the instability of the state's financial troubles and the trickle down effect to the county.
   "The state's budget is definitely going to give us some problems. We need to balance our budget so we don't have to raise taxes," said Smith. He cited last year's $73,000 increase in health insurance premiums for county employees that forced the county to find available funds.
   "That wasn't a case where we were just spending money. That is something you've got to have for your county employees," he said.
   Smith serves on the commission's Health and Welfare, Law Enforcement, Recreation and Building committees. He said he had attended classes on government operations around the state and had actively sought to represent the 6th District's residents.
   He and his wife Tammy reside in the Hampton Community. He has been employed by Kroger for 23 years.
   Smith has one son, David Smith, a U.S. Marine who is stationed in Annapolis, Md., and one stepson, Chad Lunceford, who resides in Lynchburg, Va.
   "I'm a people person," said Smith. "I like to help people and I get a lot of satisfaction if I know I've helped somebody."